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The City of Death Hardcover – October 29, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
This book is a sequel, and with that it could've been a hit or miss, as sequel's often never live up to their predecessors.
I proudly admit, it was one of the few books I read this year that was a perfect 5 star for me. I look for 20 small details. All details that coincide with our review policy. They're broken down into quarter points, and it's very rare for a book to earn all of those for me!
"The City of Death" is a sequel in the Ash Mistry series, following a British teen who finds out he's an avatar of an ultimate warrior. The one thing I tend to appreciate about sequels, is that they don't slow down, since many readers tend to have a basic grasp of the world already.
This book still introduced it's world, but not too long for old fans to get bored. I couldn't find a single detail out of place. The world building, especially when they went to Lanka, the legendary home of Ravana(the demon king) was amazing. The picture was painted so vividly, I had no problem picturing it, or the part of India, Ash was forced to stay in.
The ending was...I didn't see it coming, and you have to read to understand how awesome it was!
One of the strongest elements of the book was the character development, and not just for the main character Ash. His friend John, we got to see in a much stronger light, to prove he wasn't just a thief, but just a misunderstood kid.
Parvati's back story was also touched on, and it makes her future very unclear, but I pray there's still hope for her, because her intentions are good, even if she was created to be the "killer of men."
Now to Ash. He was a kid with all this power, but with so little knowledge on how to use it. He had to make so many life changing decisions, that I cant imagine what it was like to be in the position of saving the world, while costing your own humanity to do so.
Sometimes I cant tell if Ash is a hero, or an anti-hero. As an avatar, many of his past lives were cruel, dictators, or people of power, who did anything to gain it. To listen to them, he had to lose parts of his self. Even with a struggle between good and evil, I'm so glad that there is a fantasy book that shows, that sometimes the biggest battle is with yourself.
There aren't any qualms about the editing of the book. Being traditionally published doesn't ensure a properly edited book, but this book is as high quality as one can get.
It's still 3rd person, which I'm not 100% crazy about. But I don't dislike 3rd person, I just prefer 1st person. But do 3rd person right, and you've got a fan for life!
The diversity is about the same as the first. Most of the cast is of South Asian descent, but Ash is UK-born ,which brings a ton of other things his way, having to explain his love for two cultures.
His friend John is Indian born, so they have completely different mannerisms and appearances. Where John is from, it's a reality for children to be underfed, poor, and do what they must to survive. This is not to say that this is ALL children born in India. But for John, this was his reality.
Parvati looks Indian. But she's also half demon. As the years grow by, she resembles a snake more and more, but I like how she's trying to fight her nature.
Romantically there's nothing there(yet) but I like that Parvati and Ash can be there for each other, as a tag team, and not expect anything more than friendship from each other. There's a lot of tension between them, but I guess we'll see what happens.
And obviously the baddie Savage is still alive. He's a white British guy, who's the villain of the entire series. I like Savage. He's what a true villain should be. Too many villains in books remind me of the guy twirling his mustache at some train tracks. He has goals, whether they be good or bad, that benefit him.
He doesn't necessarily see himself as the bad guy, and through a short period in the book, Ash is forced to work with.
Keep your friends close, but enemies closer right?
If the title is in reference to Lanka, well done. I love the title. The cover is really eye catching and pretty. I wish Ash's face would've been shown, but Im glad at least Parvati's is. That's basically how I saw her.
Since this is a sequel, the names and character descriptions are already clear, as they've already been introduced to me in the first!
(I'm going to try to be vague about the events of the first book in this review.)
The second book, THE CITY OF DEATH, starts out with Ash having returned home to England and going back to school. His adventures have left him fitter (due to a great excess of energy) and more confident, but that's not enough to solve his bullying problem. In fact, it's worse in some ways, because if Ash fought back he could kill another kid - and he doesn't want that on his conscience. Ash thinks he has his new abilities under control, but he really doesn't.
Soon enough he's caught up in another adventure, and once more headed to England. There's been another tragedy in his life, which leaves Ash feeling guilty and determined to right things. But some things cannot be changed, as Ash must learn. The Ash Mistry books are middle grade, but I think they're aimed more at the ten and up crowd. They deal quite a bit with the realities of death, including grief, culpability, and empathy. Ash's adventures are changing him, and if he's not careful, they could turn him into a monster like Lord Savage.
I loved Parvati's role in THE CITY OF DEATH. She's a half-rakshasa (demon), half-human warrior that helped protect Ash during the first book, THE SAVAGE FORTRESS. She and Ash are becoming closer, but he keeps putting his foot in his mouth when it comes to her heritage. And I loved the way THE CITY OF DEATH made the rakshasa more complicated. They aren't human and they don't feel emotions like humans, but it's still not meaningless when they die. They are living, thinking beings capable of forming connections. They don't always agree with each other and can take opposite sides in a fight. At the same time, they are very dangerous to humans. Ash has to make difficult decisions when he fights the rakshasa, even if it doesn't seem that way at first.
I really enjoyed THE CITY OF DEATH. There's lots of adventure and action, the kind filled with magic and crazy puzzles and sudden betrayals and secret plans. Underneath the fun is an exploration of morality and mortality. I think the Ash Mistry series will especially appeal to readers looking for something similar to Percy Jackson, with a modern take on mythology. THE SAVAGE FORTRESS and THE CITY OF DEATH have much of the same appeal, but their different source material keeps them from feeling like any sort of imitation.