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Century of Sand [Kindle Edition]

Christopher Ruz
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £10.99
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Book Description

Richard and Ana are on the run.

As a young soldier, Richard led a rebellion that installed the King's sociopathic Magician as the new regent. Now, after forty years of watching his comrades vanish into the dungeons of Stonebridge Castle, Richard has fled the kingdom with his mute daughter in tow, escaping into the desert wastes where magic still boils in the clouds and demons walk the dunes inside the bodies of men.

The Magician isn't far behind, and he's brought a pet: the Culling, an undead stitched-together tracking dog with a taste for blood. But Richard has his own weapon, stolen from the Magician himself: the calcified heart of a demon, which he hopes to trade back to its original owner in exchange for sanctuary. What he doesn't know is that his daughter, Ana, is far more valuable than the stone. She was the last piece in the Magician's grand weapon, and he'll tear the desert in half to get her back...

Century of Sand is a 120,000 word novel, and the first book in an epic fantasy trilogy that follows Richard and Ana as they chase down legends and battle to stay one step ahead of the Magician. Murderous warlords, a priest with a dark past, and creatures torn from Richard's nightmares lie between him and salvation.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 890 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007NG8H7W
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #550,623 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The start of something incredible 24 Mar. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A distinctly adult and evocative novel with a setting that I found vaguely reminiscent of the Earthsea stories in terms of crafting and detail. Mr. Ruz recalls that which makes the most beloved and classic of fantasy tales so enthralling to readers; the descriptions are evocative and none more so than those detailing the thoughts and emotions of his intriguing characters.

I normally cringe at the thought of diving in to the start of yet another "epic fantasy trilogy", but in this instance my reservations crumbled. Century of Sand is ambitious in scope but still deeply personal, and it's the best fantasy novel that I have read in years.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Sand in your hair 10 Aug. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Christopher Ruz has created an interesting and well-imagined world. His characters come to life as real people, and you can feel their physical and emotional pain through the words Ruz chooses to convey the desert setting and the torture inflicted on the characters. There were some moments where the reader is sucked right into the situation and can feel the desert sand in their hair and on their tongue. Ruz has obviously spent a lot of time researching desert life and clothing, as well as constructing a Meritran language which is believable. His ability to observe the interaction of people who speak only fragments of each other's language is rare in fantasy writing.

The only thing I need to mention as a failing of the story is that I never quite got to grips with the deeper events of the story. I understood Richard and Ana's day-to-day existence and the actions they took within the plot, but I didn't find it easy to grasp the overarching plot of the story. I cared about them as people, but didn't quite feel I understood their motivations and metaplot. More information on Richard's background would have made it slightly easier to follow. Worldbuilding can bog down the plot, but the book could have done with a few more explicit scenes on Richard's background and particularly on explaining the relationship between the country from Richard comes and Meritran.

That said, this is always a hard balance to achieve. Ruz' exquisite language and action-packed plot largely trumps this problem, and I am very much looking forward to reading the next books in the series, when I hope I will get to understand more about his world beyond the immediate action of the plot. The book comes highly recommended.
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I received this book from Humble Bundle and found yet another gem.

A great story, well told set in a realistic fantasy setting with very believable and well crafted characters. Similar to the Robin Hobb or maybe George RR Martin books but with it's own unique style. The lead characters are no heroes just a father and daughter both damaged in their own ways, struggling just to survive,

I especially enjoyed the writing of the combat scenes; no 30 minute of swashbuckling sword play but realistic, panicked, desperate fights for survival that are over in seconds.

Well worth your time to read.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.6 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't just sit there. Read this epic book darn you! 23 Mar. 2012
By Andy White - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
This. Here. Buy. There is no question that you should buy this book. Click, go on.

Fine, I'll explain why:

Mr Ruz weaves a complex and (at times) heart-rending story of a man on the run with his damaged daughter. The characters are richly developed - each of them is at times beloved, at times completely detestable, and always so very human.

The pacing of the story is relentless. I hesitate to say that I couldn't put it down, but... well I really couldn't put it down. I read the whole damn thing from start to finish in one go. I was completely dehydrated by the end. Maybe the book should come with a warning label?

This is "fantasy" genre, but the fantasy elements are fairly light and subtle (in general, some notable exceptions) - I'd commend it even to those who don't enjoy swords and sorcery.

I could go on for hours, but the long and short of it is: you should read this book and support this author. Go!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars unrelentingly grim 17 April 2012
By David - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is a well-written fantasy quest. I will not disagree with the praise in the earlier reviews but I would like to raise two cautionary points. First, this is definitely only the first volume of a planned trilogy. The primary conflict is unresolved; the text just ends with a hair-breadth escape like other escapes in the story. So if you like it, you'll be waiting for the author to get the next volume written.

Second, the author's style is gritty and physical: he makes every grain of sand, every moment in blazing sun, every hour of exposure to wind and cold and thirst, tangible. It takes skill to do this, but nevertheless, the characters endure this well-described discomfort, pain, fear, deprivation, and physical misery every page. It just never lets up. I found this wearying. I'm doubtful whether I'll buy Volume 2, because I'm not sure I want to sign on for a few hundred pages more of this near-death march. For much the same reason, I gave up on Joe Abercrombie's "First Law" trilogy -- a series that anyone who enjoys Century of Sand should try. The conditions assailing his characters were so unrelentingly grim, painful and hopeless, I couldn't stand to be around them.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wholly different and wonderful style of "fantasy" 10 April 2012
By Tom F. - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Tension. Anxiety. Desperation. Paranoia.
Guilt. Fear. Revenge.
Loss. Betrayal. Second chances.

A tired old man, chasing after forgotten legends, desperately trying to save his daughter. To redeem himself for past actions. To escape from a madman who would see him and all he has left destroyed.

What Christopher Ruz has done with Century of Sand is genuinely brilliant. If it weren't for the harsh time constraints on my life at the moment, I would have read this non-stop. This *deserves* print publication.

As the title suggests, much of the book takes place in a fictional desert country, known only as "the western desert". Ruz captures the harsh and unforgiving nature of the landscape with exquisite detail. The places and people described on this journey are presented in stark contrast with the protagonist's eastern homeland - an imperialistic feudal kingdom, notorious for the slave trade and religious crusades into neighbouring lands. Issues such as religious bigotry, language barriers, and a world where food is scarce and water is more valuable than gold, provide a host of problems that the characters have to overcome.

The anxiety and paranoia that rise from being in an alien place, with no option to turn back for fear of losing everything drives the story forward at a brilliant pace. But the combat, the action, is excellent, and I think the early action scenes are what really hooked me with this book.

Above all, it just *feels* real. Just enough bad decisions and emotional dialogue to be believable, without being painful or predictable. The characters are wonderfully built throughout the course of the book, and the backdrop of history that slowly fall into place... It doesn't feel like you're reading one story, but rather the culmination of three stories, linked together.

This isn't your usual sword-and-sorcery fare. This writer is one to keep an eye on.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" meets Martin's "Game of Thrones" 19 Dec. 2014
By S. A. Hunt - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition
Sometimes you catch a movie on cable TV and there’s this muted, dramatic, slightly off-kilter, made-from-the-heart quality about it. You’re instantly drawn in by its distant intensity and slightly aged quality. You look it up on the internet, and yep, there it is: it was made in Australia.

There’s something about Australia that seems to bring out the true creativity in its indies. They put out rich, complex movies that would never have seen the light of day in cookie-cutter Hollywood—Dark City. Mad Max. Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. They are eerily magical, with a stately pace and intricate characterizations, lit from backstage by a blazing red sun. Their actors say their lines quietly so that you’ve got to turn up your TV. Their scenes move across the beautiful desolation of the Outback, the vast bushlands standing in for the Apocalypse, for farmlands, for prairies and Las Vegas.

Richard, the protagonist of the book, isn’t your standard fantasy hero. While not written in the same flowing unchaptered frontiersman style as Cormac McCarthy’s masterwork “The Road”, this story carries the same feeling of fatherly protectiveness, of helplessness, a xenophobic vigilance against the unknown dangers of a foreign wasteland. Fleeing an enigmatic enemy known only as the Magician, the weathered fugitive hustles his increasingly strange daughter from town to town, clashing with a revolving cast of leering highwaymen and proud bedouin.

Aged, put-upon and weatherbeaten, the weary tactician is a deft cross between the driven Roland Deschain and the reluctant Indiana Jones. He doesn’t run from a fight, but he doesn’t charge mindlessly into battle, either—fear drives his decisions; fear of death, fear of losing his daughter, fear of losing his sanity, the fear any normal person would experience when forced to face the creatures that Richard encounters. And that makes him one of the most relatable heroes I’ve ever seen. He does what I would do, and feels how I would feel, and that makes it extremely immersive. His decisions feel real and make sense.

Richard and Ana’s tale has that special something that makes Australian indie so imaginative and commanding of attention. It also has the lyrical cadence and tight, locked-inside-the-head scope of a book that should have been published before the invention of the Kindle, a legacy fantasy epic that belongs between Lackey and Jordan on a shelf in a 1994 Waldenbooks.

If you’re a fantasy fan, you would be denying yourself a real treat by skipping this one. Get ready for the sequel, “The Ragged Lord”, and pick up “Century of Sand”. Just don’t forget your burnouse—the sun’s murder out there.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superior Fantasy 19 April 2012
By Brad - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I picked up this book based off of recommendations in a fiction forum, having never read any of Christopher Ruz's work before, and I'm glad that I did. I'm a big fan of epic fantasy, but I've felt that recently the genre has been getting stale. Then Century of Sand came along and reminded me what excellent, hard hitting fantasy looks like.

Among the novel's many strengths is its sense of place. Ruz never overplays his hand in terms of world building, but instead lets his narrative and characterizations do it for him. The reader is dropped in the middle of a desolate swath of desert in a forgotten corner of a nameless empire, but by the end of the book I was completely engrossed in his world. He does in one book what other series can only manage in two or three (if they are lucky).

The novel is dark. In some cases it borders on horror, which I would normally balk at were it not for the central relationship between the main character, Richard, and his daughter Ana. It is so fully realized and believable that it shines through some of the more "slasher fic" aspects of the narrative and grounds them as completely realistic. Their dichotomy is so well written, in fact, that they occasionally outshine the evil magician by comparison. If I can find one soft spot in the book it is that the motivations of this main villain remain murky, but I think this is only because I have the crystal clear development of Richard and Ana to compare him to. Also, this is the first in a trilogy, so I have no doubt we'll learn more about the magician in the future.

I really hope this book gets the audience it deserves. The setting is unique, the dark tone is pitch-perfect, the writing is outstanding, and the narrative is water-tight. Give it a read. You'll see.
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