- Paperback: 363 pages
- Publisher: Pyr (March 14, 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1633882756
- ISBN-13: 978-1633882751
- Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,663,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Black City Demon Paperback – March 14, 2017
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“Black City Demon is a beautifully conceived fantasy, peopled with believable characters and interesting settings, that never cheats once on the reader. Bravo to Richard A. Knaak!”
—Five-time Hugo winner Mike Resnick
PRAISE FOR BLACK CITY SAINT:
"There's a lot to digest in this fast-paced, unpredictable world with a surprisingly well-developed cast of characters, including a lovable shapeshifter, an honest detective in a dishonest city, feirie royalty, and a kelpie made of Lake Michigan waters. Because of many resemblances to Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, urban fantasy fans will be hoping for more from Nick Medea." --Booklist
"Black City Saint is jam-packed with awesome -- cursed Roman emperors, incorporeal dragons, paranormal detectives, a shapeshifter from the Feirie realm trapped inside a dog's body, and one very tormented unsaintly Christian saint -- all set in prohibition-era Chicago. Knaak's latest is fast-paced and funny, frightening and more than a little fiendish, a brilliant mash-up of Ghostbusters, The Da Vinci Code, and the ancient story of St. George and the Dragon."
--Brian Staveley, author of The Emperor's Blades
"Black City Saint is first-rate urban fantasy. Richard A. Knaak has mixed myth with real-world history to create a fast-paced, unpredictable story filled with intriguing characters, terrifying monsters, and sinister magic. Readers in search of the next Harry Dresden should join Nick Medea on what is sure to be the first of many adventures."
--Richard Lee Byers, author of The Reaver, Blind God's Bluff, and Dissolution
About the Author
Richard A. Knaak is the New York Times- and USA Today-bestselling author of The Legend of Huma, WoW: Wolfheart, and nearly fifty other novels and numerous short stories, including Black City Saint and works in such series as Warcraft, Diablo, Dragonlance, Age of Conan, and his own Dragonrealm. He has scripted a number of Warcraft manga with Tokyopop, such as the top-selling Sunwell trilogy, and has also written background material for games. His works have been published worldwide in many languages. His most recent releases include Shade--a brand-new Dragonrealm novel featuring the tragic sorcerer--Dawn of the Aspects--the latest in the bestselling World of Warcraft series, and the fourth collection in his Legends of the Dragonrealm series. He is presently at work on several other projects.
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From the back cover of Black City Saint: For more than sixteen hundred years, Nick Medea has followed and guarded the Gate that keeps the mortal realm and that of Feirie separate, seeking in vain absolution for the fatal errors he made when he slew the dragon. All that while, he has tried and failed to keep the woman he loves from dying over and over. Yet in the fifty years since the Night the Dragon Breathed over the city of Chicago, the Gate has not only remained fixed, but open to the trespasses of the Wyld, the darkest of the Feiriefolk. Not only does that mean an evil resurrected from Nick’s own past, but also the reincarnation of his lost Cleolinda, a reincarnation destined once more to die. Nick must turn inward to that which he distrusts the most: the Dragon, the beast he slew when he was still only Saint George. He must turn to the monster residing in him, now a part of him...but ever seeking escape. The gang war brewing between Prohibition bootleggers may be the least of his concerns. If Nick cannot prevent an old evil from opening the way between realms...then not only might Chicago face a fate worse than the Great Fire, but so will the rest of the mortal realm.
From the back cover of Black City Demon: Since he became the guardian of the Gate between our world and Feirie sixteen hundred years ago, Nick Medea, once Saint George, has battled to keep the darkest Feirie--the Wyld--from invading the mortal plane. With the dragon an unwilling part of him, Nick maintains balance between realms, often at great cost to him and those nearest to him. Nick and his ragtag confederates--including the shape-shifter Fetch and Nick's reincarnated love, Claryce--have battled the Wyld, but mortals as sinister as the darkest Feirie. Now, with Prohibition in full swing and bootlegger wars embattling Chicago, a murderous evil born of the mortal world has turned its attention to the power of the Gate...and Nick himself. Nick must turn again to his most untrustworthy ally: the dragon within. Yet even together they may not be enough to face what was once a man...but is now a creature even dragons may fear.
I really enjoyed Richard’s books. There are a couple of reasons for my enjoyment. The first of which is the setting. Both books are set Prohibition era Chicago. I’ve always had a fascination with Chicago and its history, so that was part of the lure that hooked me on these books. Although, to be honest, my fascination with the locale doesn’t extend so far as to move there... not because of the city itself, but because of the winters! I’m live in Arizona and have acclimated so much so that a temperature of 60 degrees has me breaking out hoodies and long sleeved shirts!
The second reason I loved both books is because Richard has done an amazing job at evoking the ambiance of the time period in both books and has definitely done his research. Coincidentally enough, I had just finished Devil In The White City by Erik Larson before picking up Black City Saint and was thoroughly impressed by the amount of research Richard did to ensure that Black City Saint was as historically accurate as possible.
The third reason that I loved these books was because of the characters themselves. The characters in Richard’s books are so realistic. Nick (who 1600 years ago, was Saint George) can be the overbearing gentleman protector at times (given the time period the books are set in, the male protagonist would always assume that the damsel is always in distress) but you are sure in for a surprise when you meet Claryce! She is spunky, doesn’t give one wit about early century social propriety, and routinely ignores Nick when he’s being overbearingly protective of her… She is, after all, the latest reincarnation of his lost love, so he wants to protect her. But as a woman of modern times, she’s more than ready to protect herself and frequently chafes at Nick’s incessant protectiveness. More often than not, Claryce agrees with him to placate him, and then does exactly what she wants to the minute his back is turned. Did I mention that she is plucky and doesn’t take no for an answer very easily? Of course, there are a few times when this backfires spectacularly and Nick and/or Fetch have to save her bacon.
Nick is constantly battling wills with his own inner demons (literally, he has a dragon inside him from his Saint George days that is always trying to find a way to be free of his imprisonment in Nick’s mind, body, and soul) as well as a ghost who haunts him seeking forgiveness for a past wrong done against Nick. Mercy really isn’t Nick’s strong suit when it comes to this particular haunt, so he’s always hanging around, hoping against hope that Nick will find it in his heart to forgive him his betrayal. Back to Claryce for a moment…
The fourth reason that I loved these books was that way that Richard was able to weave prohibition era Chicago with the land of Feirie. In my opinion, it takes a lot of skill and deftness to weave a mystical location (and the attendant unnatural aspects) into a real world setting, especially when that real world setting is historical. There are several other writers that are able to do this very well when the books is set in modern times, but off the top of my head, these two books are the only ones I can think of where it is done in a historical setting like Prohibition era Chicago.
Anyone reading this review can definitely correct me if I’ve forgotten any. If I have, I sincerely apologize to the author of said works and can only blame it on my faulty memory. Just drop a comment and if I haven’t read the books you’re referring to, I’ll make it a point to pick it up ☺
Richard’s books are fast-paced, without being over-the-top intense. They build nicely, without grabbing you by the coattails and dragging you along. Some books work well that way. In my opinion, that sort of method would have detracted from these books. The action is gripping and leaves you wanting to read deep into the night to find out what happens next (believe me, I had a couple of days that weren’t all that productive because I just couldn’t put either of the books down.)
The concept and overall story throughout the two books kept me utterly engaged and left me wanting more as I was always looking forward to finding out what happened next. A couple of other things I absolutely adored with this books.
A) These books are chock full of noir Chicago history;
B) I empathized with every character in both books… it’s hard to admit, but I even empathized with the bad guys (I didn’t root for them to win, but I understood their motivations and could see why they chose the paths that they did);
C) Fetch. Fetch had to be one of my favorite characters. As an exile from Feirie, he takes the shape of a big talking dog who loves to use slang (with greater and lesser degrees of success), who roots around in garbage piles, loves to eat and have his belly rubbed, and can follow directions for all of about 3 seconds before he gets distracted by something. He’s totally loveable in a big, bumbling, goofy sort of way.
The only thing that frustrates me about Nick as a character is his seeming inability to accept assistance from any of his compatriots. Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t want them to come to harm, or, perhaps after 1600 years of doing it himself, he’s not used to having help. That said, there were times I wanted to reach into the books and smack him upside the head and tell him to let his friends help him ☺
The books were very well edited. It’s obvious that Richard and his beta readers and editors did a great job at keeping the continuity tight and the grammar clean and flowing nicely in both.
The overall pacing and progression of the books: Richard’s books start strong and progress at a very realistic pace. They weren’t slow, but they weren’t so fast that they left your head spinning.
It’s patently obvious that Richard did his historical research and this research gave his books a texture and depth that would have otherwise been lacking if it hadn’t happened.
Ultimately, I can’t wait to get my hands on his next Black City books! I’ve got his King of the Grey waiting to be read, so that review should be coming soon.
There is absolutely nothing better than an accomplished author like Richard Knaak stepping outside the norm and putting a truly unique series together. Black City Demon and its predecessor Black City Saint are an definite must read if your looking for something off beat yet well written.
Knaak weaves the implausible storyline in a Chicago that truly existed. Capone, Moran, Weiss and America's fist serial killer all make appearances in the novels and are described in a way that only a resident of the White/Black city could.
If Dragonrealm didn't make you a fan the Black City novels certainly will.
Again, Knaak’s snappy dialogue and noir narrative take the reader along on a journey well suited to the gangster era it is set in. familiar characters return as well as new allies and antagonists.
Just as innovative and action packed as the first book, this series has become a must read for urban fantasy fans. Miss this at your own peril.
I once again really liked the combination of the Prohibition Era, Catholicism, Feirie, and dragons (Nick is Saint George, forced to be something close to immortal and guard the Gate to Feirie after slaying the dragon that was guarding it before, as well as forced to share his body with the dragon). It’s just so interesting and meshed together in a way that works really well without feeling cluttered. And the Prohibition Era setting isn’t just an arbitrary background, the author really uses it in the story.
But what made me enjoy this one even more than the last was that the characters shined more. I feel like I got more from Nick this time, more depth, more personality, more emotion. Not all of it was good, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. I just mean that he’s a good guy, but he’s got flaws, and I like that. Or maybe I just noticed more or understood him better this time for some reason. But regardless, instead of dry, I could see that he’s actually just very disenchanted and, as Fetch said, hard-boiled. And I can’t really blame him after everything he’s witnessed and experienced. He also holds grudges, pushes people away, and gets frustrated often—but that’s another thing I can hardly blame him for since he does have a lot of frustrating things to deal with, like his so-called loyal followers keeping information from him, the enigmatic queen of Feirie and her servants who constantly speak in riddles, the mysterious Michael who seems to have a hand in many things but never gives a solid answer about it, a dragon who pretty much uses every opportunity and weakness possible to try and take control of the body they share, and, well, just Fetch in general sometimes. I feel like Nick even had a bit of character growth, realizing that he’s not alone, that it’s ok to rely on his friends for help. And however hard-boiled he may be, Nick cares about people, especially those he’s close to, like Claryce and Fetch.
Speaking of Fetch though, I can’t say he’s my favorite character, he has issues following instructions, plus there was the thing that happened in Book 1, but Nick is actually kind of harsh toward him. Nick gets frustrated when Fetch acts like a dog and does dog things, but then he forbids him from doing human things or going too close to humans and makes Fetch live on dumpster rats because he doesn’t even want him eating human food. Poor Fetch can’t win no matter what he does. And really I can’t blame him for wanting to eat good food or listen to sports on the radio or get any sort of enjoyment out life. I mean, the poor creature can’t even speak in human language to anyone unless Nick is near since he’s stuck in a kind of canine form. That’s not a complaint about the book though, just some of my thoughts.
As for Claryce, she still didn’t seem to have much depth beyond her feistiness and stubbornness, but I did once again love how she always jumped in to help when they ended up in a fight instead of cowering and letting Nick get hurt.
And the dragon was still his usual, fascinating, entertaining self. I just can’t bring myself to dislike him, even if he does continually try to take over Nick’s body. I love the dragon’s terrible commentary on things and the hidden conversations they have inside Nick’s mind.
I did find the mystery and all the magic surrounding it to be kind of complicated and confusing though. I didn’t quite understand all the connections or what exactly was happening in every scene near the end. That could’ve just been a “me” issue though since I do get confused easily in books with intricate mysteries/plots/magics. And I still understood plenty to enjoy the story.
So overall, I really enjoyed this book! The characters continued to grow me, and, much like the first, this was an interesting and perfectly blended combination of Feirie, Catholicism, dragons, the Prohibition Era, mystery, and magic!
Rating: 4 Stars
Original Review @ Metaphors and Moonlight (link in profile)