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Gunmetal Gods #2

Conqueror's Blood

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The Kingdom of Alanya is home to mystic warriors and mischievous djinns, vulgar poets and vain philosophers, soaring simurghs and scheming shahs.

Little do the people know that a power struggle between an ancient sorceress and an upstart sultana threatens to bathe the sands in bile and bones. A bloody cauldron boils, and primeval gods laugh whilst they stir it.

As warhorses charge, arrows shower, and cannon shots brighten the night, all must choose a side.

550 pages, Kindle Edition

Published June 20, 2021

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About the author

Zamil Akhtar

6 books298 followers
Get your FREE copy of Death Rider, a standalone novella in the Gunmetal Gods series, by joining his mailing list at https://ZamilAkhtar.com

When Zamil was fourteen, he moved from the dry, dune-spotted Arabian peninsula to the hilly, arctic wasteland that is Western Massachusetts. He despises the cold, isn’t very fond of the sun, and prefers spending all day indoors mashing the keyboard in the hopes something great will come of it. When not dreaming up dark and fantastical journeys, he enjoys binging horror movies, wasting precious time arguing about international relations on Reddit, and occasionally traveling somewhere exotic. He currently lives in Dubai with his loving wife and his badly-behaved pet rabbit.

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5 stars
218 (41%)
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203 (38%)
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88 (16%)
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12 (2%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 65 reviews
Profile Image for Zamil Akhtar.
Author 6 books298 followers
June 19, 2021
This is the best novel I've ever written. Hope you love it!
Profile Image for Sarah.
Author 19 books431 followers
June 22, 2021

I really loved Gunmetal Gods. Akhtar’s world and the characters that populated it gripped me, and I was anxious to read more. When the author contacted me to see if I’d be interested in reading the second book in his series, I jumped on the offer. While I expected Conqueror’s Blood to perhaps pick up where Gunmetal Gods left off, it was really its own thing. Set in the same world, this was truly a unique story, and I loved it for that.

Where Gunmetal Gods gave the reader dueling first-person narratives from opposing sides of a conflict that was reminiscent of the Crusades, Conqueror’s Blood tells the story of two women who are friends, set in the midst of a mystery. Yet it keeps all the fantastic elements of the world that was established in the first book of the series, and even expands upon them.

There are some crafty things Akhtar does in regards of narrative. There are inherent limitations to not only his world, but to the perspectives of the two women telling their sides of the story and Akhtar does a great job circumnavigating these limitations in the most natural way, cutting through the distance (both emotionally and physically) and bringing the reader directly into the center of the conflict. This makes the book feel a bit more personal than Gunmetal Gods did, and a bit more immediate, while keeping some emotional nuance and depth that I, quite frankly, did not expect.

The book itself builds upon all of the things I loved in Gunmetal Gods. Here we get this gorgeously wrought Middle Eastern setting with sand palaces and bazaars, food that is described so beautifully it made me seriously hungry. There are also djinn and spirits, gods that manipulate events through human counterparts, and sprawling landscapes steeped in magic, and full of mystery. In fact, I would say Akhtar’s care with how he constructed his secondary world is one of my favorite elements of this book as a whole. I was constantly swept away by the majesty and detail of the world he’s created. Nothing was overlooked, and due to that care, this secondary world was one of the most real I’ve come across, exotic, and yet fully grounded.

Conqueror’s Blood is a bit of a mystery and told from the perspectives of two women, friends, who are more than they know. These perspectives allows the reader to get a bit of a nuanced view of the tale being told, but also gives this particular mystery a bit of depth and layers that it otherwise wouldn’t have had. It’s not all comfortable, either. There are some parts of this book that are distinctly uncomfortable, but I think sometimes being uncomfortable while you read is not just okay, but important.

Zedra and Cyra are the two women at the core of this book. Friends, and yet they fill very different roles and have distinct personalities. As one would expect in an epic fantasy story, the fate of themselves, and those they love hang in the balance, and both characters are pushed past what they thought they were capable of in the course of this book. With their connection to the throne, the book is both a mystery and full of politics as well. There’s a lot here that is both fantastic, and much like the world the author has created, steeped in reality as well. I did occasionally wonder if Akhtar drew upon real-world historical influences to write this book, because I felt like I could sense some bits of history speckled throughout the narrative.

The characters are raw and real, and I truly felt for them. Wherein most books I find myself preferring one character over the other, I felt like these two were equally balanced, and I liked them both. They each brought something to the story that was truly unique to them and made the book work as well as it did, and they each had limitations that needed to be worked with. Their personalities and voices remained individual, and their arcs were surprising, and incredibly gripping. They did not stay stagnate, as characters, they evolved along with the story.

Conqueror’s Blood is one of those books that will demand your full attention. You can’t read this while your attention wanders. There’s a lot that happens in this book, and a lot of it is below the surface. You have to pay attention, or you’ll probably end up re-reading passages to pick up things you missed. This isn’t to say it’s a difficult book to read, because it’s not. It’s beautifully written, but there is a lot that happens here, and the plot moves so quick, if you aren’t paying attention, you’ll miss details you needed to feel the full impact of the story.

The mystery at the core of the book isn’t unraveled fully until the final pages of this story, and while I expected the ending, at least in some form, I was still surprised enough by so many other aspects of the book, I didn’t mind that small nugget of predictability. In fact, it allowed me to really enjoy how the author drew together all these narrative threads.

Conqueror’s Blood was one of those books I was overjoyed to have read. It’s a furious story full of tragic lows and emotional highs, where people are pushed past their breaking points in a world that was so finely wrought and exotic, I felt as though it fairly leapt off the pages.

Zamil Akhtar is one of those authors who is a credit to the genre. He writes the kind of epic fantasy I love. Its raw and real, full of layers and depth, absolutely gorgeous prose, and characters that leap off the page and breathe right along with me. Conqueror’s Blood is an amazing addition to this series, and a must-read.
Profile Image for P.L. Stuart.
Author 3 books378 followers
March 11, 2022
"'Perhaps once you've wizened up the nature of things, you'll learn that no gain is too tainted to refuse. You may one say find that the tower you've been building all your life is missing a foundation. It comes crashing down, crushing everything you love, and you've to pick up the pieces and rebuild whatever you can - ill-gotten or not.'"

"Conqueror's Blood" is the second book in the "Gunmetal Gods" series, and the follow-up to the outstanding "Gunmetal Gods", which is Book One. "Gunmetal Gods" is one of the first books I read in 2022 and still firmly sitting in the top five books I've read so far this year.

So you can imagine how jazzed I was to get my hands on the sequel. While it was completely NOT what I was expecting, author Zamil Akhtar has somehow managed to outdo himself with this second book in the series, which is no easy accomplishment. 

To be clear, "Conqueror's Blood" feels not so much like a sequel, but a completely new entry, in a different part of  the sprawling, lush, incredible Middle-Eastern inspired world that Akhtar has created. While some key characters from "Gunmetal Gods" show up, and have significant impacts on the story, they more or less are cameos appearances of some of my favs from that first book, including Kevah (protagonist from "Gunmetal Gods"), and another major character who readers thought was done for, and whose appearance shocked the hell outta me!

Other big names from "Gunmetal Gods", such as Micah the Metal, Murad, and others are referred to in "Conqueror's Blood", and Akhtar cleverly inserts them on the lips of others in this new book, to only add to their legend, and backstory. 

"'I don't recall the details of the fight, but it was over rather quickly...for some reason instead of finishing me off, he simply backed away and returned to the line while his army cheered his name - Murad! Murad!'"

But "Conqueror's Blood" is not about the Sirmian Shah (one of my favs), or other great male characters, though there are plenty to choose from, with incredible new (old) ones like Hadrith, Kato, Eshe, Pashang, Kevah, Cihan, Kyars, Mansur, Khizir Khaz, and more gracing the pages. No, this novel is all about the astounding women, and the main characters of "Conqueror's Blood", Cyra and Zedra, are extremely complicated, messy, ambitious, obsessed, beautiful, dangerous, and utterly enthralling.

Politics, fanaticism, poetry, possession, power plays, blood magic, and hellish gods using mortals as bait, waiting to pounce on each other are afoot, and the kingdom of Alanya is the centre of all that. Steering all those elements are the two powerful female leads.

Cyra is a Sylgiz (an Endless Waste tribe) by birth, and royalty (albeit it minor) in exile, as the daughter of Khagan Yamar. But she has spent adulthood as a favourite - as close as a daughter - of Shah Tamaz of Alanya. Tamaz is a clever, long-reigning, pious, and mostly benevolent ruling monarch. Cyra's estranged brother Cihan is now the powerful warlord of her old tribe.

Cihan wants his sister back in the fold. He also wants revenge on Cyra's new people of Alanya. Cihan believes that Tamaz has wrongfully executed some of Cihan's men. Cihan is ready to wage war on Alanya, for this cause alone, and also to feed his own ambitions.

Though due to her familial relationship, Cyra is sent to treat with Cihan on Tamaz' behalf, Cyra has no intention of rejoining her real family and being a minor noblewoman among nomads in the Endless Wastes. She wants power and prestige, and the opulence of Alanya's Sand Castle and its court. The upstart Cyra aspires as high as the wife of the future Shah.

But Cyra hides lots of secrets that could compromise her plans. Among them, due to searching for love in all the wrong places, boredom, desperation, and a desire to be useful, has driven her to become entangled in the plots of the scheming Hadrith, her paramour.

Hadrith's causes might seem outwardly just in the end, but he also might be using Cyra to destabilize Alanya, to increase his own gain. The consequences of his schemes could harm all Cyra holds dear.     

Meanwhile Zedra, as well, is favoured by Tamaz, and like another daughter to him. Little more in actuality that a concubine to Tamaz's heir, Kyars, Zedra has borne Kyars a son, and the potential future Shah of Alanya.

As the mother of the Crown Prince's child, and being beloved of Tamaz, Zedra wields some measure of influence, like her best friend Cyra, in Alanya. But Zedra is keeping far darker secrets than Cyra. For an ancient sorceress, tied to those who worship Father Chisti - called the Children - lurks inside the body of Zedra. A shapeshifting being, obsessed with restoring the faith of the Children, and in the process, potentially destroying the world.  

For me, of course, the most important thing about a book is always the characters. I loved what Akhtar did with "Conqueror's Blood", following a similar format in "Gunmetal Gods", where we alternate POVs between two people who are on opposite sides. This time, the two female leads are close friends, and it is only as things unravel we see how diametrically opposed they are.

Even if one character is obviously more sinister than the other, that other character is highly flawed, makes horrible decisions, and does bad things. Cyra is tortured by what she does to find comfort, and guilty over whose arms she find comfort in. But she is exceptionally cunning, brave, and fundamentally, a good person at her core. 

Consequently, the "bad" main character, Zedra, also internally feels remorse for her crimes, and might even evoke sympathy from the reader, as we gain insight and understanding into why she is the way she is. Powerless to escape her long history of brutality, both that she has committed, and what has been enacted against her family, all in the name of religion and the gods, Zedra was my favourite character of this book. So compelling, sometimes so sinister, and yet so vulnerable, I was drawn to this main player, to see if there was any redemption possible for her.

Moreover, the secondary characters are all highly grey, with murky motivations, continually shifting loyalties, willing to do the worst to further their aims. And, with varying factions within factions, the reader's emotions will roller-coaster as they change sides too, uncertain of who truly to root for in terms of who deserves to ultimately emerge victorious, as Akhtar pulls us along like puppets on a string, through a bloody trail of deceit, siege, and primeval gods.

As with "Gunmetal Gods", Akhtar is on the top of his game in terms of the mind-boggling world building, in "Conqueror's Blood". He makes me want to take a stroll through the streets of Alanya, soaking in the poetry in Laughter Square, eat a bowl of tamarind sherbet, and inhale all the spices. The world is so layered, beautifully textured, replete with different customs, cultures, faiths, languages, attire, idiosyncrasies, literature, and everything else that makes it feel completely real. 
We get so many amazing and interesting themes in this novel, but again, the heart of it is religion and faith. We see and hear more of the gods, and the main one who dominates the last quarter of the book is about as despicable as they come. The scarier thing is that he might not be the MOST despicable of what IS coming. 

And we see mortals (and sort-of-mortals) completely not only at the mercy of the capricious gods' ambitions, but also paralyzed by their own faith, their prejudices against the faiths of others, and driven to terrible, inhumane acts by zealotry. The end always seems to justify the means, in the mind's of the faithful, and by the time there is any real kind of self-reflection, and examining of what one is willing to do for one's gods, and if those gods are worth all the horror, it's usually far too late.

Akhtar may have created an intellectual, sophisticated world where poetry is appreciated, even revered, but I find much of his writing to be poetry itself. I keep finding myself re-reading passages, for the beauty of the words. I attach one of my favourites below:

"Did she want me to say sorry? Sorry I destroyed your life...I wished I'd never done it, but I couldn't hold that remorse. True remorse requires repentance, and true repentance requires justice, and if I were to face justice, then who would protect my son?"

The magic in the books is eerie. Blood magic, where everyone's blood has a different value. 

"And worse...it can only be written with saint's blood, angel's blood, or god's blood. Three of the rarest flavors."

Zedra uses blood as the engine for her powers, and it is truly chilling to behold. But besides the blood magic aspect, it is the gods in the book that really make things fascinating. The epic climax, when some of them come calling, is completely breathtaking. 

This book leaves a lot of futures in question, a lot of character arcs incomplete, and the reader begging for more.     

"Conqueror's Blood" is an extremely dark book, violent, haunting, beautifully written, and simply marvelous. Far better than five stars, and there is no way I will ever miss out on reading everything Akhtar writes. I have no idea where he is taking me next, but I'm going definitely going along for the ride. It promises to be wild!
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,086 reviews2,953 followers
November 9, 2022
3.0 stars
After loving Gunmetal Gods, I was so excited to read this follow up novel. Unfortunately I was very underwhelmed. This is not a direct sequel but instead follows other characters. After the engaging plot of the first book with two memorable main characters, I was let down by the slow plot and the flat characters in this one. There are still good elements to this novel, but it did not meet my expectations.
Profile Image for Slick Dungeon.
29 reviews13 followers
June 20, 2021
ARC review

It's a tall mountain to climb when you set out to write a second novel. A first novel can grab readers' attention and generate a lot of buzz if it is good. A second novel has to meet the expectations set out in the first book and then exceed them. Some authors are better than others at achieving this.

Zamil Akhtar's first novel, Gunmetal Gods showed us a world of armies, magic, terrifying and strange creatures, and personal stories about men whose struggles would change the fate of the world. That book focused on Kevah and Micah who would become entwined in events that shaped history and changed the two of them forever.

The follow up to that book, Conqueror's Blood is told from the alternating perspectives of Zedra and Cyra, two women who are the center of events that will change a kingdom. Zedra and Cyra are friends and both are connected to the throne of Alanya. Zedra wields more power than one would imagine and she has the power to bend events to her will. Yet Cyra may be stronger than she knows. What the two women do will decide not only the fate of themselves, the ones they love, and the kingdom they call home but also may be the deciding factor in the fate of humanity.

While it's not strictly necessary to have read Gunmetal Gods in order to enjoy Conqueror's Blood the reader will have a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the events in the current volume if they have read the first volume.

The book is an immensely enjoyable read full of deep characterization, a world that feels complete and alive, creatures that are magnificent and terrifying, has tons of action and political intrigue which will keep you up reading late into the night.

If you love fantasy books like Throne of the Crescent Moon or the Game of Thrones series, Zamil Akhtar is a must-read author. It is a tall mountain to climb to write a second novel. Lucky for readers, Akhtar has laced up his climbing shoes, checked his gear twice, made a plan, and carried it out all the way to the summit.

Take my advice and read both Gunmetal Gods and Conqueror's Blood. The only drawback is there is not yet a third volume. And when there is I'll be eagerly reading through it.
Profile Image for Sofea Eliana.
132 reviews2 followers
May 22, 2022
“I suppose I didn’t mind being unhappy and loveless, if I had a purpose, if I could make a difference. Truth is, I don’t think I’m all that lovable. People have always wanted me for every reason that wasn’t love, so searching for it seemed pointless.”

what the fuck.....ZA had no right to end the book the way he did.... I am, speechless, at least gunmetal gods had a conclusive end.

I definitely know there's no way a grimdark fantasy book would end in a happy ending, but still, wow.

the characters in this book are way more complex and complicated then the first, their paths are much more harder to differentiate as good or bad, it just makes you judge all the characters as humans, trying to do what they think is right at the moment.
we have many reoccurring characters from the first book such as kevah, sadie, celene, kinn and aicard which was comforting in a way.

I was ROOTING for Cyra and Eshe, but I knew there's no way they'd end up together, but it still hurts, I wanted them to be happy so bad, and now he hates her- the ending I a cliffhanger IDC, I need a conclusion, I need a satisfying ending, this is all too much for me. Cyra had such a crazy ass character arc and development, she deserves so much more than what she got, she is a victim and I will STAND BY THIS STATEMENT IDC!!!
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Carlos.
17 reviews5 followers
April 20, 2023
Just when you thought you couldn’t read a better self-published book, this one comes and slaps you right in the face for even thinking that.

Not going to lie, I was hesitant at first at the shifting POV’s and because of a slower start than book one. That’s it, that’s my rant for this book. Safe to say, I liked this one more than the first. It makes sense to have new POV’s since this helped to get more worldbuilding and more knowledge about other cultures, gods, characters, and intentions.

What I love about this book is how you, as the reader, take sides very quickly with the characters. You decide to root for a certain character, but by the end you are not so sure anymore if you are rooting for the good guy. I like the sense of despair that the characters get and how they are willing to go to the darkest of places to achieve their goals.

The twists and turns this book take, leaves you even dizzier than the last entry in the series. From around the 40% mark, all the way to the end, is a rollercoaster ride that never stops spinning. The author turns up the notch and everything goes bonkers. The plot and its pacing do not let you go. I was hooked by the end of each chapter, wanting to read more just to know what was going to happen next.

Overall, amazing book. Can’t wait to finally start Elder Epoch.
Profile Image for Taylor.
375 reviews114 followers
February 11, 2022
3.5/4 stars.

I was told to be prepared for the fact that Conqueror's Blood is very different from Gunmetal Gods and though it is directly connected to the same storyline/world, that definitely rang true. The core of the story is still the same, though, and that consistent thread made the story feel cohesive.

As a character-based reader I felt very connected to the characters from GG, so the switch in perspectives that we got in this installment had me missing those I'd come to love. That being said, I did see the necessity of the switch to expand the world and further the plot of the story. I didn't particularly LIKE anyone, but they were extremely interesting to read about.

The theme work in this book is STELLAR. The perpetual cycle of violence and power, and the fact that it's usually young women/girls who face the most consequences for the choices of those in power-despite their societal position that often keeps them from the power themselves. I also loved the dissection of religion as a controlling force in society to be wielded as a weapon; often with each side feeling that they are on the side of good. The religious themes are taken to the next level as the Gods in this world actually are physical beings with their own desires and goals. How does one square the religion developed by humanity as a form of worship with an actual being that may or may not match that perception? It's a mind-bending question, and one that Akhtar tackles relentlessly here.

The worldbuilding and lovecraftian horror elements are also expanded in this installment, and all of it has me intrigued. I can't wait to learn more about all the forms of magic in this world, though I'm particularly interested in the Jinn (I also need more Kinn in my life).

The end of this story is heartbreaking, but wonderfully done. I'll be thinking about it for a few days, and ruminating on the oppressive feeling it left me with; though I don't think it could have ended on another note.
I'll be reading the prequel novella next! Excited to get into it.
Profile Image for Robert Defrank.
Author 6 books14 followers
June 21, 2021
Gunmetal Gods was amazing, and Conqueror’s Blood kicks the adventure up to another level!

Having given readers a story of holy war paralleling the Crusades with interventions from angels and djinn and hints of a terrifying Lovecraftian cosmology, the author continues the formula of dueling first-person narrators on opposing sides of a brewing conflict, but in this case it is two female protagonists each vying for her own survival and that of her loved ones, each burdened with a terrible task and each forced to exceed her own capabilities and seek both dubious allies and dark and perhaps damnable powers.

And while a significant portion takes place in a harem or else someplace one of the heroines would be away from the main action, the author has presented an ingenious method of bringing the combat up close and personal, as well as circumventing the other limitations of the first-person viewpoint.

The reader is presented with a mystery that is only fully unraveled in the final pages, and again rises to the tragic heights of Gunmetal Gods. The story also delves into the strange metaphysics of the world with a unique type of blood magic that I wont spoil here.

The story also demands something of a closer reading (difficult due to the breakneck pace of the plot) or the pleasure of a re-reading. While the factions of Gunmetal Gods were immediately recognizable, Conqueror’s Blood deals with one religion’s internal conflicts, which can be less easy to keep straight.

And yes, some old friends from the first book show up. Conqueror’s Blood is very much a separate story from Gunmetal Gods, but also dependent on it, and so reading Gunmetal Gods first is highly advised.

Profile Image for Douglas Lumsden.
Author 7 books124 followers
August 2, 2021
Truly Awesome!

Gunmetal Gods is about Holy Warfare. Conqueror’s Blood is a much more ambitious tale about power politics. I love this book in so many ways. I love the Middle Eastern mythos and cultural themes that permeate every part of the story and set it apart from the Western mythos found in most other fantasy. I especially loved the politics of the harem in the early part of the book. I loved the character development of the two female protagonists, two morally gray characters whose difficult choices drive the larger story. I love the writing, the way it immerses the reader in a world of jinns, mad gods, tribal politics, exotic cities, harsh countrysides, and blood magic. What a marvelous ride! The author took a lot of chances with this book—defied convention at every turn—and it all pays off.
July 24, 2021
Great story with female protagonists

An excellently written story that keeps you on your toes all the way throughout, the magic, politics, and plot twists are all excellently well thought out. If you're looking for some amazing storytelling I highly recommend reading this series!
21 reviews
July 25, 2021
Very creative

I like the first book but this one was even better. It is full of twists and turns and surprises. The characters are interesting and the magic system is very unique. It leaves you guessing and looking to see how the tale is brought together at the end of the series.
5 reviews
June 30, 2021
In my opinion, this book is leaps and bounds better than its predecessor.

Aside from having lots of beautiful turns of phrase, this book really captures the atmosphere of its world. The characters are developed carefully, and as you watch them take each step you can't help but support them.

Unlike Gunmetal Gods, this book doesn't have villains so much as people with opposing goals constantly pushing each other and escalating until the book reaches its climax. I really appreciated that - I found myself sympathizing with both characters until the very end, even when they did something horrible justified by their rivalry.

Part of why I was so excited to read this book was the mystery surrounding the magic and gods in the background. This book delivers some fresh new information to build upon the foundation set by its predecessor. No spoilers :)

I think any reader will love this series' unique blend of setting, mystery, and characters.
Profile Image for Wolfmantula.
222 reviews22 followers
December 7, 2021
For more reviews go to www.Wolfmantula.com, and follow me on Twitter @wolfmantula

In Gunmetal Gods, I had an issue with the narrator’s main character voices being too similar which led to some confusion on my part at times and me giving it 4 stars, despite how amazing the book was. I was running into a similar issue in Conqueror’s Blood, with both Cyra and Zedra, the new POV’s voices being similar. After speeding up the audio from 1.0 to 1.25, I could hear a bigger difference in their voices and this may be because Peter Noble reads a bit slow. That may also have been why I judged Gunmetal Gods audio too harshly. If you plan to listen, I would recommend listening at 1.25 or faster, for a much better experience.

“We are but playthings
for the gods. They dress us up and set
us against each other.”

This is an incredible sequel with a fast paced and deep plot of political intrigue, divine intervention, well written characters that are not free from harm, and dazzling Middle Eastern settings of landscapes, palaces, bazaars and foods that make you wish you were there seeing all these places, eating the food and drinking the date wine. As mentioned, we get 2 new POV’s in Cyra and Zedra who are at first friends and later become enemies and the fate of all is in their hands. The gods and Djinn are creepy but at the same time, they are absolutely a epic (look at the cover). The ending was terrific and gives a nice twist that leads us into book 3, which I expect to be just as epic.

“Patience in a moment of
anger prevents a thousand regrets.”

The author has said he believes this is his best work yet, and I have to agree. This took what was already a great story and took it to another level, and only makes me thirst for book 3 to come out. What I love most about Zamil’s world is how little I know of Middle Eastern history and culture. While most of us know a lot about Greek, Norse and Roman mythology, there is a seriously untapped market for Middle Eastern. Some will find it as a detriment because they don’t know it, I love it. I love learning, and the more I read from Zamil, the more I look up and the more educated I feel.

The only thing I wished this had was a “story so far” even though it wasn’t really needed to keep up with this story. Just a refresher of what happened so far and what lead to the events in this book, since there are elements of book 1. Fingers crossed for one in the next book of the series though!
Profile Image for Alan Behan.
625 reviews13 followers
June 8, 2021
Gunmetal God's was my first book of the year, and it was so good, the anticipation of waiting for the second book Conqueror's Blood, boom its finally here, Zamil Akhtar has out done himself with this beauty, a cracking Middle Eastern setting, with beautiful described Sand Palaces, Bazaars and dishes that set pallet watering, the characters and plot are fantastic, this series has the lot, from warring God's using the main players to do their dirty work, Gun toting horse warriors and gholam, Blood wrenching battles, Magi, Djinn and Blood magic, and one heck of a story, the Shah is dead, who will sit the Golden Devian Throne by the end, highly recommended..😁💙
Profile Image for Francis Blair.
Author 16 books14 followers
November 12, 2021
While this book was a vast improvement in writing quality over Gunmetal Gods, I can't help but feel like the story didn't quite live up to the expectations of the first. But then, perhaps it is unfair to compare them, as they are so different in tone and setting that they almost need not be part of the same series at all, would not truly be if not for a few character cameos that link them inexorably together.

Rather than featuring two characters on opposite sides of an untenable religious divide, this story starts with the two viewpoints beginning as friends, only for their diametrically opposed goals to eventually fling them into conflict. Rather than spanning an entire nation torn apart by war again and again and again, Conqueror's Blood took place almost exclusively inside a single city, and was as much about political intrigue as it was about strength of arms.

Things I very much liked about this story were the magic system (both how it incorporated the previous book and expanded on the origin and mythology) and the way how both MCs were shown to be sympathetic, in such a way as to make it difficult to truly root for one or the others. Often I found myself switching from who I wanted to see victorious as frequently as the chapters changed. Also, the return of Kevah was a delight, even if he did feel slightly underutilized.

Some of the political intrigue did prove to be a bit of a stumbling block for me, particularly at the beginning when some of the machinations aren't entirely made clear, or aren't explained until later. A few of the secondary characters also felt inconsistent in their motives and actions, not so much that it ruined immersion, but enough that it felt like there may have been a bit of a disconnect between the beginning and ending segments of the story.

That said, this is still a top tier story, and Akhtar continues to prove that he is one of the best when it comes to self-published stories. It is also refreshing to see such well-written stories that are not set in your standard Euro-centric fantasy world, and the sheer amount of worldbuilding that has been done for this series practically drips out of every page.

TLDR: If you enjoyed the first book because of the lightning pace and the sharpness of its characters, you may find the more mature, subtle tones of this book a bit jarring. However, if you enjoyed the first because of the richness of the world and characters, then you will find all of that and more in Conqueror's Blood.
Profile Image for Phlyanthrope.
2 reviews
June 22, 2021
A superb follow up to Gunmetal God's. Akhtar continues the expansive and unique world building that characterizes his fiction. Anyone expecting more of the same of the previous novel will be pleasantly surprised at how different the setting and characters are, although some familiar faces make a comeback.

What really stood out to me about Conqueror's Blood was the way Akhtar deftly weaves different plot lines and characters together. He crafted a fast paced, unpredictable story where the reader gets an impression of vast currents and schemes moving in the background, only a portion of which is visible.

Overall, a very enjoyable and well written book. Fans of Gunmetal Gods will love this one.
Profile Image for Anselm Patey.
Author 3 books18 followers
December 20, 2022
An excellent follow up to Gunmetal Gods, which I've picked as my Book Brakcet 2022 book of the year. Conqueror's Blood exhibited Akhtar's wonderful and rich writing style and worldbuilding. I enjoyed it from the beginning, although for the first 80% I had to admit that it wasn't engaging me quite as much as the first. This was mostly because it featured more palace intrigue and less action, and also because the forms of magic featured were a little too close to "magic systems" for my taste (I'm not into LitRPG or magic systems, or anything that takes a step in the direction of games rather than storytelling).

However, the final run of the book is spectacular, and the stakes and action really jump into top gear.

I'm very much looking forward to Elder Epoch.
87 reviews
October 10, 2022
I tried to finish but I just can’t right now. It’s not bad but at halfway through this book is missing almost all the magic of the first one. Book 1 was a fast paced military fantasy drama with two extremely well realized POVs that are thematically outlined as polar opposites.

Here we have two main POVs that don’t stick out at all. For the first 100ish pages I actually struggled with who was who because they felt so similar. The author also isn’t as good at political intrigue as he needs to be for a book like this. I appreciate the intent to do something different. But it didn’t work.
Profile Image for vibe.
17 reviews
April 11, 2022
another phenomenal book from zamil akhtar, that builds on an already rich world. it's hard to put into words how enchanted i was with almost every page.

please read it!
2 reviews
August 20, 2021

Just read it. Now I need to write seventeen more words to post my star rating. Four more to go
Profile Image for Wadi Hisham.
126 reviews
November 21, 2022
In one word: insane. The first book went some crazy places but Conqueror's Blood pushes that boundary even further. The parallel storylines were interesting and full of twists and turns.

And the ending. Oh boy, the ending. That's how you make a villain.
Profile Image for Simon Plastow.
11 reviews
January 21, 2023
Relegated the main characters from the first book to bit-part side characters. New characters and story aren't gripping but the world building is still ok. Disappointing
Profile Image for Logan  Wurst.
91 reviews3 followers
May 12, 2023
What a fantastic sequel to an incredible book one. It takes some real writing chops to start with two new main POVs in a completely different setting from the first book. It was very reminiscent for me of malazan and how Erikson continually adds new point of view characters, which are equally as awesome as the characters you already know. And that's high praise coming from me because malazan is my number one series.

The fact that the author writes in the first person continues to amaze me because this world is so epic and normally first person POV leaves me wanting more. I DO want more but not because the book is lacking, but because it is so incredible I didn't want it to end. Luckily, I have received an ARC for Elder Epoch so I can start that immediately!
11 reviews
August 8, 2022
So. This book, just damn. Conqueror's Blood is the second book in the Gunmetal God's saga. It's a well known fact that most second books suffer from second book syndrome, meaning the second book in a series doesn't stand up against the first book. That is absolutely not the case with Conqueror's Blood. This installment has just as much action as the first and really makes you think as much as the first did. Just like Gunmetal God's it continues the argument of good vs. Evil and just as before I couldn't really decide who the actual villain was it was kind of more of a perspective thing. There were times I thought Cyra was the villain and others I was certain it was Zedra. In the end I felt they were both victims and both villains in there own right and I think that's what Zamil Akhtar was going for (though I could be wrong). I found myself both loathing and feeling sorry for both of them, to say it was a bit of an emotional roller-coaster is an understatement. I knew Zedra was doing what she thought she was right for The Children but Cyra felt the same for her world. They both hurt each other and they both did terrible things to the ones they loved (I was really hoping for a happy ending for Cyra and Eshe). The twist of Zedra actually being Nora with Zedra's memories actually took me by surprise, but not in a way I can call it a dirty twist. There were hints but they were so well hidden I didn't put it together until the reveal. Besides the plot the writing fantastic. Just from reading Akhtar's other works I've come to expect writing that flows and drags me in and I wasn't disappointed. I can't wait for the next installment, I'm getting really curious about The Dreamer, who or what is it? What's going to happen with Kevah and Sadie? Will Cyra ever truly be happy? What about Nora? In the end I think I can say I actually enjoyed this installment better than the first, although it's super close. I look forward to book 3.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Vamshi aruru.
288 reviews
September 25, 2022
4/5, I'm torn on this book. On one hand, this book is a direct improvement over the first one. The characters are more consistent, the pacing is better, the prose is more memorable, and the world building is just as good.
At the same time, I found this book less enjoyable than the first. For one, I couldn't get behind either of the two main characters. I was frustrated all the time by the decisions they were making. Yes, they were making decisions true to their characters, but it was still frustrating not to have atleast one character I could truly get behind.
The far bigger problem was that the ending wasn't satisfying at all. It gave far more questions than it answered. Momentous things happen which aren't given enough time to breath and discuss, and the ending felt rather abrupt.
Despite all that, if you liked the previous book, you'll like this one. The world building is amazing, and quite honestly, the best reason to read his book. I feel like the characters are better written in this one than the previous, and the plot is far far better. The number of people who had their own motivations to do what they did and how the alliances shifted and changed naturally through out the book was very enjoyable to read.
So, a frustrating book to review. Hopefully the next book comes soon.
Profile Image for Rana Garcia.
30 reviews1 follower
March 22, 2023

Book is cool, but if I have to read "ululating" one more time. Where did the Kevah storyline go? This book left more holes than Swiss cheese at a mouse factory. Fam, create a diagram of your characters lives and find the connection to make the story whole.
588 reviews1 follower
April 14, 2023
This story takes place after the events of the first book, but introduces a new setting and characters. There are two main characters. The first is Zedra, a "blood writer" (a type of sorcerer) who is on a secret mission to restore the rule of her people, "The Children", who were wiped out 600 years ago. The other main character is Cyra, a young woman with a complicated position in the Shah's court. As in the previous book in this series, chapters alternate between these characters.

Zedra is the instigator of the story. She has a plan to restore her people, and it involves skulduggery and the occasional murder. Ultimately she plans to make her infant son the "Padishah", or ruler of rulers. As a blood writer, she is able to create blood runes for various uses. She is also a soul shifter, which means that she can possess people or animals for a time. The first step of her plan is to foment war, but Cyra thwarts this plan by negotiating a peace between the Shah and the Sylgiz tribe that threatens the kingdom. This leads Zedra to take extreme measures to preserve her plan, and things deteriorate from there. It takes a while for Cyra to even realize that she's in opposition to Zedra but eventually she does. To make their struggle more even, Cyra also gains magic powers of her own.

Like the first book, much of this book is about war and conflict. But in the first book the main characters were leaders of their respective countries so they could command armies directly. Zedra and Cyra don't have such power, so they have to work indirectly. There are twists and turns, all centering around control of the capital city of Alanya.

A key question in this book is how far you would go to achieve your aims. Zedra was sent here by Father Chisti, the leader of The Children, who pressures her to do whatever she has to in order to restore them, including atrocities. Will she? Cyra too has to decide how much she's willing to do in order to survive, especially once she gains considerable power.

The prose continues to be great, powerful and interesting. One nitpick: Akhtar overuses the words "snicker" and "snigger". Everyone, from servants to Pashas, snickers. Does no one laugh or chuckle anymore?

The plot is good, but not as good as the first book. In that book the stakes were clear from the first moment, and the two main characters knew about each other and hated and strived against each other directly. In this book the scope is smaller (just one city), and the main characters don't even know that they're in opposition until around the middle of the book.

The characters are very good. Zedra is sort of the villain of the story, but she has good reasons for what she does, and she's conflicted about it. Cyra starts out as the "good guy" but circumstances lead her to take the opposite journey of Zedra, as she becomes harder. The other characters are interesting but not as well drawn. The most interesting of the "other characters" is Pashan, a warlord with a fearsome reputation who perhaps isn't as bad as he seems at first (despite the occasional brutal murder).

A few characters from the previous book make an appearance, but they don't have huge parts. Kevah has advanced in sorcery and uses it on occasion, but he's on the periphery of the story. Celine, the daughter of the Crucian Imperator, is still a hostage -- just held in a different palace. She still doesn't have agency. Sadie also reappears but her role is much smaller. Micah is a no-show; perhaps he really did die at the end of the first book.

There are hints of eldritch powers that are meddling in this conflict, and they become concrete towards the end of the book, in a shocking finale. But even after reading two whole books in this series I still don't know if Zamil Akhtar has a plan for these powers, or if they're just there for spice. Their nature and motives simply aren't explained. In the epilogue Cyra makes a good summary of all the unknowns about them! That's good; perhaps it means that Akhtar knows our (the readers') pain, and will be less coy in the next book.
Profile Image for Bookish_Austin.
127 reviews10 followers
April 20, 2023
The sequel to Gunmetal God's is one that I went into relatively blind. I thought we'd be following the same cast of characters, but that isn't the case. Instead of Kevah and Micah, we follow Zedra and Cyra and I really enjoyed the direction the story told.

Two aspects that I loved in book one were the world building and the thematic elements that Akhtar focuses on. I am a sucker for any fantasy that pulls us away from stereotypical medieval Europe, and the Middle Eastern setting in this one is executed flawlessly. Sprawling cities, deserts, and a variety of cultures sets a solid foundation that is built upon with vivid imagery and beautiful descriptions. Religion is a topic touched on, and I love what the author does with it. Religion happens to be divisive, with each side believing that they are right, and the author does a great job navigating the difficulties that comes with addressing said topic.

This one felt a little more like a political power struggle than the first one, and I enjoyed following both Cyra and Zedra. They're well fleshed out characters whose stories are intertwined, and the character development of these two was fun to follow. The author does a great job showcasing emotion, and that made the characters easy to connect to, even if they were doing awful things or had motivations that I couldn't relate to.

We did have some cameo appearances from characters in the first book, but this is very clearly a book that serves to expand the world further, not just being direct sequel to the storylines in book one.

The loss of a star is mostly just due to personal preference. I typically don't enjoy first person POV, and here we have a story of alternating perspectives, both told from first person. There were times where the story would lose me, and I'd have to go back and reread a little to remember which character we were following. The plot felt directionless at times, especially in the beginning, but this was only a minor bother for me.

Conqueror's Blood is a great expansion to the already diverse and unique world built in Gunmetal God's, and I am curious to see what the next book contains.
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