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City on Fire Hardcover – January, 1997

Book 2 of 2 in the Metropolitan Series

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 498 pages
  • Publisher: Harpercollins (January 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061052132
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061052132
  • Product Dimensions: 1.8 x 7 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #456,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

In the Nebula-nominated Metropolitan, Aiah and Constantine won the war for their world-city, Caraqui, by overthrowing the corrupt Keremaths. Their ace-in-the-hole was an unlimited supply of plasm, the geomantic substance that gives the world its power. Now Constantine has paired Aiah with their dangerous "ally," the hanged man Taikoen who lives in the plasm. For Constantine needs help to defeat the Silver Hand and protect his New Regime, no matter how much it will cost Aiah. In the process Aiah may finally reach beyond the Shield, an impenetrable barrier created by the Ascended Ones that seals Caraqui from the stars.

From Publishers Weekly

In Metropolitan, which was nominated for the 1995 Nebula Award for Best Novel, Williams created a magnificent world-city, its entire surface urbanized by a multitude of civilizations that draw their very existence from plasm, the mysterious energy contained in all matter. Aiah, a low-level civil servant in the Plasm Authority, stole the plasm the great general and political leader Constantine needed to overthrow the corrupt ruling family of Caraqui and to establish his idealistic New City regime. Now, Constantine and Aiah must maintain power against many enemies, some out in the open, others festering within their own government. Complex political intrigues pile up as Aiah must hunt down those who seek to steal the city's plasm and use it for criminal ends. She encounters mages, gangsters and twisted half-humans, all of whom try to suborn her. Lurking constantly in the background is Taikoen, the hanged man, a monstrous being who lives in the plasm and who has forced upon Constantine a devil's bargain that may destroy the general and any hope for the success of his political ideas. Well-drawn, believable characters give emotional force to this fine novel, which walks the line between fantasy and science fiction. Ultimately, however, it is Williams's complex world-city, more convincing than even Asimov's in Foundation, and his endlessly inventive use of plasm that will hold readers' fascinated attention.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

His concept of plasm is intriguing as well.
A reader
I very much enjoyed Ahai's growth as a person during this book and can't wait till a sequel come sout!
Garthu@GarthsKidStuff.com
I lost my copy of this book, proud to have it back.
linda waldroup

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Nalaka on January 15, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
City on Fire is a transcendant novel in that it goes beyond most works of science fiction. At its heart, it is a story about the rites of passage endured by Aiah as she develops from a young woman into a major socio-political figure. This progression is handled very well, and in such a subtle fashion that it is only at the end of the novel that one realizes just how far she has come. In addition, the novel uses a complex political backdrop and well thought-out future landscape in which to chronicle these events. Many of the characters are larger-than-life, yet Walter Jon Williams manages to make their successes and failures credible. The novel's futurist qualities are a bit more suspect in that it is based on the existence of a compound called "plasm". This compound has almost magical properties, and at times I suspected I was reading a work of fantasy more than of science-fiction. Nonetheless, Walter Jon Williams adhered to a fairly rigorous realization of the socio-economic impact of plasm, and has a very consistent world view such that after the first few pages, I was willing to accept the society that he proposes. Walter Jon Williams novel is also blessed with his writing style--one which remains concise and powerful, yet avoids omissions, thus remaining quite readible. In summary, this is a truly outstanding work. Once you get past the initially odd concept of plasm, the novel becomes a well-written, compelling read. So much so that I am quite sorry to see that there is not third novel in the series.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 12, 1997
Format: Hardcover
Although I enjoyed Walter Jon Williams's previous Novel, Aristoi, for it's exotic atmosphere and larger-than-life characters, I was somewhat disappointed in Metropolitan. It seemed somewhat contrived and depressing. At the time I did not realize that it was part of a series as it definitely stands on its own as a complete novel. City on Fire is the sequel to Metropolitan and it delivers all the promise that Williams has shown in previous novels.

City on Fire is a fascinating novel both for its characters, who evolve and devolve in fascinating ways, but for William's exploration of the interactions of religious, military, commercial, and political factions as they deal with consolidating power in a conquered territory, a situation which is usually the conclusion of most books rather than the starting position. Throughout the novel the action is fast, but never slights the accelerated education of Aiah, the strong and engaging protagonist. Although the setting is science fictional, the actions and reactions are completely and realistically human. This book is a marvel and I intend to nominate it for a Hugo in 1997.

Thank you, Walter Jon Williams, for a thoroughly engaging world and characters. I simply can't wait for your next amazing performance.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Garthu@GarthsKidStuff.com on January 6, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Walter Jon Williams is one of my favorite SF/Fantasy writers. I very much enjoyed Hardwired, Knight moves, Days of Atonement, and (of course) Metropoliton. City on Fire rips along at a great pace, showing the difficulties inherent in changing power structures (something that most writers leave to the "happily ever after"). I very much enjoyed Ahai's growth as a person during this book and can't wait till a sequel come sout!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Liviu C. Suciu on May 9, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
If you read my thoughts about Metropolitan, you will get a feel about the series and why this was my 4th or 5th read of it so far.

As I do not want to spoil too many things just a few notes.

City on Fire starts where Metropolitan ends with Aiah taking Constantine's offer and arriving in liberated Caraqui - though not a native, Constantine is one of the new leaders though seemingly of less importance than the officer leading the coup and the slimy cleric who turned his cloak and supported the revolution - where somewhat to her surprise she is appointed head of the new "Plasma Recovery" dept under minister Constantine.

Using the skills learned in Jaasper and finally having carte-blanche to bust the local mafia and the plasma black market in the name of the revolution, Aiah soon shines in her job and slowly she becomes a magnet for Barkazil from all over, while deftly navigating the treacherous waters of Caraqui where the various groups compete for power

But the revolution is under peril as the survivors of the former kleptocracy and the dons of the busted mafia convince the neighbors that they are better back in power, while internally the conflicts between the various Caraqui interests also threaten its survival and of Aiah, Constantine etc too.
Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A reader on September 11, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I was blown away by this book and its precursor, Metropolitan. I normally don't go for political intrigue tales, but William's style was so compelling, I couldn't stop reading. His concept of plasm is intriguing as well. I can't wait to see what happens in the third book, with the Dreaming Sisters, beyond the Shield.
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