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The Tower of Living and Dying

(Empires of Dust #2)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  474 ratings  ·  117 reviews

Marith Altrersyr – father-killer, dragonlord, leader of the blood-soaked Amrath Army – is keeping his promises. He is determined to become King of all Irlast and take back the seat of his ancestors.

Only Thalia, once high priestess of the Lord of Living and Dying, the holiest woman i
Paperback, 514 pages
Published August 7th 2018 by Orbit
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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Sean Barrs
Anna Smith Spark captures the dark heart of grimdark fiction with her poetical prose in this fantastically violent sequel to The Court of Broken Knives.

The Tower of Living and Dying begins exactly where its predecessor left off: with blood and death in vast quantities. Marith has really come into his own; he harnesses some dark force that makes him an indestructible killing machine. Men, armies, dragons alike fall before his sword and his fury. When he wields his blade, he is like a painter with
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
A fantastic second book in a Grimdark world!

Happy Reading!!

Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾
May 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviews, fantasy
The Tower of Living and Dying is a wonderfully written grimdark novel that takes everything great about The Court of Broken Knives and ramps it up to 100. It is one of the most unique fantasy stories I have read.

“The god thing dived. Blazing golden. Pure pure perfect perfect life and hope. Marith killed it down with one blow.”

Anna Smith-Spark is a fantastic writer, there is no denying that. Her prose is inspiring - lyrical and beautifully cold. Being Book 2 of Empires of Dust, it is evident he
The Tattooed Book Geek (Drew).
As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek: https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress...

The Tower of Living and Dying starts near immediately after the ending of The Court of Broken Knives carrying on the various story arcs from the first book. Marith has a goal, total domination and dominion over all of Irlast, to reclaim the kingdom that his ancestor Amrath once ruled over, he is, after all, Amrath reborn. From the White Isles, across the Bitter Sea, to Ith, the Empt
Peter McLean
Jul 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The grand, sweeping black metal opera that is The Empires of Dust strikes up the second act.

Marith the Murder Christ and Thalia, Queen of all Irlast, embrace their dark destinies, while in dreaming Sorlost the consequences of Orhan's past deeds come back to bury him.

It's a second act that feels less visceral than the first, perhaps, and yet more mythic, prose like honey and wine and razorblades. This is a book designed to be read aloud, an epic tale to be told over meat and mead by the long fir
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Full review below. Review plus custom cocktail available at The Tome & Tankard Inn.

Well, there’s no point mincing words about it. The Tower of Living and Dying is my favorite book of the year so far. It is one of the most masterful, rich, compelling and pitch-perfect second books that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. The Court of Broken Knives was one of the most criminally underrated books of 2017, with its incredibly bold and evocative prose, compelling characters and deliciously dark wo
Maja Ingrid
Sep 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
2019 reread
Sorry not sorry this is gonna be long-ish and rambly because no reasons at all.

First time I read this book I had some struggles, mainly because I didn’t remember enough of the first book. At this reread There are some bumps in the road as well, and I think it comes down to the narration of the story. Both this book and the previous uses a technique where some chapters are regular third POV (limited) and first POV, and also uses a POV we don’t really know who’s perspective it is from,
Nov 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-the-book
Took me a while to finish this sequel. I had a hard time focussing and you kinda need it with the way this series is written. I fking love the style it just costs me more concentration which I have a bit trouble with this year. I still enjoyed it immensely! I love how raw and grim the atmosphere is. People in shock and so much death and death and killing and blood everywhere. I finished the 150pgs I had left today and having a fresh, rested mind really took me properly back into this world with ...more
Petros Triantafyllou
Aug 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Queen of Grimdark, holy be Her name, is back. And Death follows close behind.

Μarith, although a King now, is still in exile in Toreth Harbour in the aftermath of the battle of Malth Salene, planning his next move to reclaim his birthright, his throne. Consumed all the more by his past demons, and becoming all that was promised by his ancestry, the only thing that seems to keep some of Marith’s humanity is Thalia. His Queen, who is still by his side, trying to bring out the little goodness t
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
'The Tower of Living and Dying' is the sequel to 'The Court of Broken Knives', and the second book in the fantastic 'Empires of Dust' series from grimdark and epic fantasy loving Anna Smith-Spark. Let's get this out of the way first - it is imperative that you read 'The Court of Broken Knives' before embarking on this one, as this book is heavily based on the happenings of the first novel.

Smith-Sparks prose is absolutely exquisite, it flows beautifully, and it doesn't surprise me at all that the
Glorious! Bloody glorious! Full review asap. 5 stars all the way!


I am definitely looking forward to instalment #2. Strongly encourage others to explore The Court of Broken Knives. The first book has firmly lodged in my memory.
Hiu Gregg
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs
When I read The Court of Broken Knives earlier this year, I was blown away by the strength of Anna Smith Spark’s voice. She manages to convey emotion in a way that very few authors can. Her writing style is different from the usual fantasy fare. It’s raw. Visceral. Sometimes angry, sometimes melancholic. It doesn’t feel like you’re reading a story so much as someone is telling you a story.

The Tower of Living and Dying is a continuation of the first book in many ways. It has that same engrossing
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
4.5-stars that would have been 5 had I enjoyed it as much as book 1.

The 'Queen of Grimdark' strikes again! If you are a fan of this genre then you have to read these books! The author's style of writing is unique, in my experience. Her unusual literary skill adds something extra that gives it more feeling than other authors in this genre. I am not a visual reader but even I could feel the hopelessness of the worlds' inhabitants at times.

I read the hardback version and it included the map below.
Chris Berko
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
You get more of everything you loved about book one in book two of the Empires of Dust series The Tower of the Living and the Dying. More treachery, more blood, more fighting and more death. I started this as soon as I finished book one which I'm glad I did because when I first picked up book one it took me a while to get used to the writing style. Not so with this story, everything clicked right off the bat and I was once again immersed in a truly unique tale. I also admire the way she can port ...more
Michael Fletcher
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Once again Anna has claimed a position at the very top of my BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR list.

She is evil. She is sneaky. No, I am not talking about one of the characters. Though I kinda am.

That ending is fucking brilliant.

Can't wait for book 3!
Aug 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, grimdark
The Court of Broken Knives was a highly unusual and fantastic book for the fantasy genre, and The Tower of Living and Dying takes all the great things, artistic and evocative prose, stunning battle scenes, conflicts and melancholy, lyrical beauty and brings it to a whole another level with everything dialled up to 11.

The writing style is unique and highly original, and this is probably what made The Court of Broken Knives a marmite book for some fantasy readers. Those who have read literary fict
Ross Thompson
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*** I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is that review ***

The follow-up to the epic Court of Broken Knives seamlessly continues the story.

This time the focus of the action stays in the same place for large chunks of the book (7 parts I think), rather than chapters jumping around from one to another. This allowed a slightly greater focus on the plot than in the first book, but the difficulty with that is keeping the momentum on both paral
Jon Adams
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think I'll have to come back to this review after some digestion. ...more
Adrian Collins
Aug 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Originally posted on Grimdark Magazine.

he Tower of Living and Dying both builds upon and eclipses the world and story Smith-Spark started with The Court of Broken Knives. It’s bigger, wider, more sprawling than its predecessor, and yet also more intimate and deep.

In The Tower of Living and Dying Marith marches his armies to find the body of his ancestor, Amranth, painting the continent red with the blood of men, women, beasts, and gods.

The story kicks off with Thalia and Marith in the immediate
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
First off, big shoutout to Hachette Audio, the author, Colin Mace, and Meriel Rosenkranz for an ALC (advanced listening copy) of The Tower of Living and Dying in exchange for an honest review. Receiving this ALC in no way influences my thoughts or opinions on the novel.

I can’t start off this review without stating a couple of truths:
1) The Court of Broken Knives (Empires of Dust #1) was one of THE most underrated books of 2017, IMHO. Had Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames not come out last year
Megan ❀
I truly believe this book is a masterpiece. RTC.
Steven Poore
The Court of Broken Knives, the first in this trilogy, was hands-down my book of the year in 2017. The Tower of Living and Dying has more competition this time around, but it also manages to develop and twist the narrative far more than a middle book in a trilogy normally ought to.

No spoilers, but while Marith is touring his Death! Death! Death! show northwards across the continent, this is less his book than Thalia's. Everything gathers pace to a breathtaking climax and a final chapter that def
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
*copy from Netgalley in exchange for a review*

The Tower of Living and Dying. Lets start with this: It is not kidding around. It. Is. Not. Kidding. Around.

This is a story which delves into the darkness which sits at the heart of humanity. It explores the way human nature intermingles atrocities and violence with the capacity for love and joy, even in (perhaps especially within) those who might be seen elsewhere as monsters. In fact the existence of monsters feels a little outside the strokes the
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Anna Smith Spark’s second volume of her Empires of Dust Trilogy, The Tower of Living and Dying (to be published in August by Harper Voyager), continues the careers of her three main protagonists: Marith, demon-descended, with a hopelessly addictive, deeply nihilistic but also monstrously charismatic personality, his lover, Thalia, enclosed priestess and ritual slaughterer of adults and children until he by accident escapes with her, and Orhan, over-well-meaning and rational aristocratic amateur ...more
Aug 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, favorites
Find this review at Forever Lost in Literature!

Last year, I read and was blown away by The Court of Broken Knives and could not wait to get my hands on a copy of the sequel because I desperately needed more of Anna Smith Spark lush prose. I am thrilled to say that Tower of Living and Dying completely lived up to my expectations--and then some more. There is something so engrossing about Spark's poetic, addicting writing style. Her writing never fails to make me want to just slow down and alm
S. Naomi Scott
Following last year's Court of Broken Knives I had high expectations for this book, and I have to say I was not disappointed. As with the first book in the series, The Tower of Living and Dying may not be everybody's cup of tea, but if you enjoyed the first you're going to love the second.

Anna Smith Spark has a unique way with words, combining elements of Homeric tradition with lyrical prose, alternating fragmented sentence structure with long form descriptions, and even changing from third- to
Ned Lud
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Favourite read of the year. Yea, yea I know it’s only the end of February. Still........
Yasser Ahmed
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Tower of Living and Dying is the second instalment in the Empires of Dust trilogy and ticks all the boxes that a middle book should be ticking. Second books often fall into the trap of just being mostly filler or spending the majority of time setting up the final book but not this one. The Tower of Living and Dying instead just continues on immediately from The Court of Broken Knives. It’s easier to look at it as one long story broken up into separate volumes à la the First Law trilogy.

The T
Lynn Williams
Aug 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Having just finished The Tower of Living and Dying by Anna Smith Spark I can say with absolute confidence that not only was this a fantastic sequel to an impressive debut but it’s a definite contender for one of my best reads of the year so far. While the Court of Broken Knives delivered an unexpected novel in terms of the author’s own unique brand of writing, the Tower of Living and Dying cemented for me the love for that particular style. If the final ep
Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)

You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.

There’s something truly cathartic about grim and gory stories. Through those strong emotions that are allowed to be unleashed into the world, they let the soul clear itself from all the negativity. Some characters embrace this darkness with every fiber of their body and go on to set a very bleak scenario for the world in which they live in but allow the reader to unleash their own repressed energies by vicariously living through their actions. A
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'Game of Literary Thrones ... the next generation hit fantasy fiction' The Sunday Times

Anna Smith Spark lives in London, UK. She loves grimdark and epic fantasy and historical military fiction. Anna has a BA in Classics, an MA in history and a PhD in English Literature. She has previously been published in the Fortean Times and the poetry website Previous jobs include petty

Other books in the series

Empires of Dust (3 books)
  • The Court of Broken Knives (Empires of Dust #1)
  • The House of Sacrifice (Empires of Dust #3)

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“kill you. But that … The god thing dived. Blazing golden. Pure pure perfect perfect life and hope. Marith killed it down with one blow.” 2 likes
“A single ray of sunlight broke through the clouds. Shone on Marith’s silver crown.” 0 likes
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