- Series: The Divine Cities (Book 2)
- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Broadway Books (January 26, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0553419714
- ISBN-13: 978-0553419719
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.1 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 180 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #240,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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City of Blades (The Divine Cities) Paperback – January 26, 2016
"Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" by Lori Gottlieb
"This is a daring, delightful, and transformative book." ―Arianna Huffington, Founder, Huffington Post Learn more
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From School Library Journal
The Battle of Bulikov is five years over (City of Stairs), and Gen. Turyin Mulaghesh has retired on the island nation of Javrat. A messenger arrives from Shara Kamayd, former junior diplomat, actual spy, and now prime minister of Saypur. Turyin and Shara fought the Battle of Bulikov together, and it changed them and their world. Since then, Shara has been responsible for a complete transformation of Saypuri dominance over the Continent. Now she needs Turyin's experience with renegade gods and miraculous artifacts, because something is not quite right in the remote country of Voortyashtan. A new metal has been discovered with incredible properties, and the continued existence of miraculous materials means that perhaps the vanquished God of Voortyashtan is still alive. Turyin knows exactly how dangerous that is, and soon finds herself in the inhospitable land of Voortyashtan, reliving some of her worst battle experiences and trying to cope with gods, miracles, the perfidy of the greedy, and the heroism of loyal citizens. This complex tale of conquest and war, politics and magic, and battle fatigue and heroism will draw new and old readers. The regret Turyin and others have about their past deeds, while striving to do better will resonate with readers who enjoy fantasy lands as nuanced and complex as the real world. VERDICT A great option for lovers of intrigue, politics, and ancient meddlesome gods walking through the world.—Gretchen Crowley, Alexandria City Public Libraries, VA
“Astonishingly good… a deep, powerful novel that’s worth reading and rereading.”—Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Building beautifully upon the richly detailed world introduced in the first book of the series, Bennett serves a stew of fantasy and adventure with a healthy dose of humor and a ladle full of violence.”--Library Journal (starred)
“Richly detailed and expertly plotted. A grand entertainment.”—Kirkus
“Like the very best speculative fiction, City of Blades immerses readers in a made-up world, only to force us to take a harder look at the real one.”--Booklist
Praise for City of Stairs:
"Readers seeking a truly refreshing fantasy milieu should travel to Bulikov, and welcome its conquest.”--New York Times Book Review
"A delightful urban fantasy that travels through a city full of Escher-like staircases and alternate realities." --Washington Post
"[An] incredible journey through a wondrously weird and surprising world... Awesome." --Tor.com
“Bennett has built a great world, original and unique, with a scent and a texture, a sense of deep, bloody history, and a naturally blended magic living in the stones." --NPR.org
Finalist for the 2015 World Fantasy, Locus, and British Fantasy Awards
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I read City of Stairs, and I enjoyed it enough to be happy when I saw a sequel. But not enough to make the effort of writing a review. (I don't review books I don't like. Seems like a waste of energy.) But this book is beyond City of Stairs.
My favorite kind of book is an adventure that is action-packed, interesting and unpredictable. Usually, this means I need more world-building than your basic norse or gael based mythology on a recognizable world. Add a teen age male hero and there had better be something that makes the book interesting, or I want my money back.
Bennett began his exploration of faith in humanity vs. faith in a greater being in City Stairs, and it was interesting. He took the metaphor of lost faith and make it literal. His heroes were based in a more eastern tradition. The world that he created made it easy to sympathize with the dying faithful and the rising godless, scientific class.of the Saypuris. You sympathized with the faithful martyrdom of the people whose gods were literally killed. You sympathized with the desire of the Saypuris to find those last shreds of magic, while at the same time rooting for them to eradicate the last vestiges of zealotry from the continent.
But City of Blades takes that exploration of faith and empathy to a whole new level. It is timely. Told from the perspective of an old soldier, the comparison between the experiences of the Saypuri soldiers in a hostile country, unable to tell enemy from civilian, is painfully similar to the experiences of real world men and women who set out to serve, and find themselves in situations where ethics, morality and survival blur. City of Blades explores these ideas without judging.
Also, for those who pay attention to these things - the main character is a woman, whose sexuality is not at issue. THANK YOU BENNETT! Her strength is not derived from gender-typical fantasy book victimhood. She is not raped or abused or otherwise forced out of conventional femininity by male aggression or abuse. There is no subplot of romance in order to achieve a required female happy ending with the appropriate hero. She is simply a soldier, trying to do what is right. And she is freaking awesome.
I don't mean to imply that this book is not a fun read. It is. it's riveting and entertaining and even funny in places. The good guys are genuinely good. The bad guys are worth defeating. But it's also a whole lot more. It continues the exploration of what it means to have faith in something, whether it's in some kind of superior being, or humanity, or some combination thereof. More of this, please!
Mulaghesh has retired and is pretty much just wasting her life in a sleepy little town when Shara pulls her back into service to go to a place Mulaghesh hates, with a man in it that Mulaghesh has a bloody history with to find out what happened to an agent who has gone missing.
Mulaghesh it seems has quite a past and it is teased out little by little. It really makes her the perfect person to be on this mission and in this place. She knows how sometimes the good intensions you start out with go to hell in a war and how quickly it can all go off the rails.
***What wild promises we make in order to justify the worst of decisions. ***
Voortyashtan is a place trying to rebuild itself. It again use to be the master and is now at the mercy of the former slaves. Voortya was the first god to fall and she was the god of death who promised her followers an afterlife where they would gather until the final war where they would be reborn to fight in it until the end of the world.
What I really like about the writing of Robert Jackson Bennett is how smart it is. There is this huge world full of fantasy and wonder and there is a mystery. Everything is done well; the history of the people, the politics, the magic, characters and everything else that goes into this story. I’m really in awe of the big twists that I didn’t see coming but made perfect sense when they happened.
Mulaghesh is a wonderful main character. I few of the things I love about her:
1. She is a 50 something war veteran with one hand (not your typical heroine)
2. She has a BLOODY past
***“You've always believed war to be a grand performance. But to me it's just killing, just the ugliest thing a person can ever do...So when you need to do it, there's no need to make a show of it.”***
3. She is smart, but not cocky and definitely has some issues because of her past.
4. She has a clear sense of right and wrong and the greater good and knows her part in all of it.
5. She makes no excuses; not for her past, her present or plans of the future
6. She is friends with Sigrud (that is kinda a big deal)
Sigrud on the other hand is just as fantastic. He is more complex than the killer on the surface would suggest. He has very deep thoughts and now has be reunited with his family after years apart. It isn’t all rainbows and sunshine because he has a strong willed daughter who grew up without him and is angry that he could have come back years before but instead worked with Shara.
***And, later, when I was in prison…when I thought I would go mad…I held on to this very tightly, this memory of the little blond girl laughing as she ran through the forest. This tiny, perfect creature, darting among these great big trees. When the world grinds you down, you pick a handful of fires to hold close to your heart. ***
It is hard to realize that the memories that were so important to you are not as important to those around you. Signe doesn’t remember that father and she will not let him forget it. But it seems the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and Signe is just as smart and cunning as daddy dearest. I loved the dynamic this brought to the story.
The only bad thing is that with so much going on there were some times that the story lulled a little. But then there would be a huge fight scene or big reveal that made that lull totally worth it.
This is a little bleaker than some books in there are a few deaths that really hurt in it. The ending was also a little hard on me as some of the characters have to face new challenges and we know that they are not all in good positions. Sigrud for instance I feel for the most, especially after all the pain he has already endured. But I totally look forward to the conclusion to this series and hope that my summer heart can take it.
This built on the promise of this first book and delivered an even better reading experience! For me, General Turyin was a much more enjoyable protagonist than Shara was in the first book. I felt the General's was a much more complicated character whose internal demons made her a well developed personality. This depth of character coupled with the extraordinary pacing of the story make it a page turner that the reader will not be able to put down. I am really looking forward to the third installment in this series.