A lone caravan braving a desert twice as wide as the Sahara. A mad queen bent on revenge. A global crime syndicate. A 300-year plague. Dueling spy guilds. Spirits who feed on human souls.
And at the heart of it all, Kandri and Mektu Hinjuman: the two most wanted men in a war-torn world.
Sidewinders, the second book in The Fire Sacraments trilogy, is a longer, stranger, and altogether more ambitious tale than its predecessor Master Assassins. It follows Kandri and Mektu through the Sumuridath Jal, the Ravenous Lands, a desert of terrible size and innumerable wonders.
Now part of a caravan led by a severe desert Master, the brothers must cross this land of monsters and magic, lost cities and gemlike oases, shapeshifting thieves and famished ghouls—all the while pursued by the fanatical legions of Her Radiance the Prophet. Their destination: Kasralys, the great 3000-year-old Fortress City beyond the sands, where the knowledge they carry may bring about the end of a centuries-old Plague, and where Kandri prays he will find his lover, Dr. Ariqina Nawhal, years after she vanished without a trace.
But Sidewinders also follows the stories of the generals, princes, spies, and scholars whose lives are intertwined with the city—and the looming siege that will decide the fate of the world. All roads lead to Kasralys, and all the world's clashing powers want the gift Kandri and Mektu are bearing to its people. If they fail, disease, death, and corruption must triumph. If they succeed, the world has a fighting chance
PRAISE FOR SIDEWINDERS
"I love this book, goddamnit. Robert V. S. Redick gives a fantasy reader everything her fiendish heart craves: plagues, prophets, demonic possessions, a desperate dash through desert dunes, giant spiders, giant cats, creepy children, plenty of vulgarity and sex, and an all-too-brief glimpse of paradise. So sure, if you like that kind of thing, go for it. Read this book. It’s for you. But wait, there’s more. For your not-so-average fantasy reader, your not-so-run-of-the-mill genre-lover, I beg you, look to Sidewinders. For it will give you ambiguity and delicacy. It will not spare you of its irony—and, oh, such irony! Its pages will impart so profound and aching an empathy that it just might leap off the page and follow you into your daily life. There is such courage in Robert V. S. Redick’s Sidewinders—such courage and fury and passion and hope. Truly a breathtaking work. - World Fantasy Award Winner C.S.E. Cooney, author of Bone Swans and Saint Death's Daughter.
"Robert Redick is a master of worldbuilding, giving us in his portrait of Urrath a heterogenous, fascinating landscape, rich in contrasting cultures, replete with thick backstory. But all of it is doled out painlessly in specific and specifically emplaced amounts that do not detract from the magnificent story flow. And moreover, the worldbuilding as such is there only to serve the development and narrative arc of some deeply rendered characters, whose fates are paramount in the reader’s heart and eye. The end result is the creation of what fantasy does best: relatable yet uncanny personages moving through incredible adventures in lands never before imagined." Paul Di Filippo, Locus Magazine. Full Review
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "Master Assassins was one of the top 2 or 3 books I've read in the past decade, so this book had a LOT to live up to. And it did a fantastic job - I pity the next book I read having to struggle out of the shadow of this tome. ... It was an immediate joy to be back with Redick's prose. He writes exactly how I'd like to, but does a significantly better job of it. His imagination and world-building are world class but it's with characters that he truly shines. - Mark Lawrence, author of Prince of Thorns and The Girl and the Stars. Full Review
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "Redick reveals the dark and bright facets of human nature that arise when the trappings of civilization are stripped away by the desert... Fans of Steven Erikson and Bradley Beaulieu will appreciate the elaborate world-building and expansive plots of Robert V.S. Redick... Sidewinders is a beautiful fever-dream of a novel that is bound to impress. Redick has outdone himself with this second installment." Julia Frazer, Grimdark Magazine. Full Review.
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ "I read Master Assassins, the first book in The Fire Sacraments trilogy, back in 2018 and I immediately fell in love with Redick’s prose, characters, setting–pretty much everything about the book. It has remained one of my favorite books and I’d been counting the days until we got the sequel, Sidewinders, ever since I put it down. I didn’t mind that wait at all because the end result was even better than I could have imagined... The writing is beautiful and effortless, providing plenty of description and narrative about what’s happening, but also withholding just enough so as not to overwhelm... A well-deserved 5+++ stars." - Forever Lost in Literature. Full review
"Sidewinders is a triumph in every single way to its predecessor and one of the richest worlds you can find in the fantasy genre today... Revisiting the desert lands of Urrath is the equivalent of rediscovering a long-lost passion." - Under the Radar SFF Books. Full review."
"I’d heard nothing but great things about this book, and I can confirm, its exceptional... Every page, every line, every word, is thought out and well placed. The imagery, the subtle flourishes, the language makes you want to pour over each and every sentence. It makes for dense reading compared to some fantasy books – but I enjoyed every second I spent reading it." - Jarred Besse, FanfiAddict. Full Review