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City at the Edge of Time (Sacred Band Series Book 5) Kindle Edition
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The City at the Edge of Time is a city of immortals, an eternal city now stuck in the muck and mire near the sea at the edge of time, where all things end. This is a city where death is so unfamiliar, so unknown, that animals slaughtered for a feast must be taken outside the city’s walls in order to be slain. Now the city stands poised to meet its own ending, and its immortal inhabitants face a doom they never imagined.
It begins when a rain of fish falls from the sky and into the royal stable yard, where Prince Macon and his sister, Princess Tabet are tending to frightened horses. Their father, Genos, is king of this strange, mysterious and nameless city . . . a city that is a myth from the beginning of time. With this rain of fish a naked man falls from the sky, and I spoil no surprises by telling you that this man is Nikodemos, called Niko, who is Tempus’ right-side partner in war. At the same time Niko arrives in the city, Tempus and Jihan also fall from the sky, landing in a future world, a place where the world ends — at least that world. Is this the doing of the god Enlil, the Stormbringer, whose avatar is none other than Tempus himself? If so, to what purpose? As events play out during the course of the novel, those questions and what role the Storm God plays will be revealed. So Tempus and Jihan set out in search of Niko. Meanwhile. . . .
Princess Tabet is a young and impressionable woman, and she’s instantly attracted to Niko, and thus takes it upon herself to tend to him until he recovers. Not surprisingly, she falls in love with Niko, who is not immune to her charm and beauty, and soon they are to be wed. And yet there is conflict between Niko’s heart and his allegiance to Tempus. He’s surrounded by the riddles and mysteries of the city and its royal family; he seeks to get at the heart of one, and unravel the other. If only Tempus and Jihan were there with him, there to help him. But he’s all alone, has no idea where his companions might be, and is lost in this strange city. And the warlocks and priests of the city, where all worship the storm god Enlil, decree that Niko must take a test: if he fails, the world swings one way; if he passes, it swings in another direction. Would failing this test mean death for Niko? He doesn’t know, doesn’t even want to contemplate such a thing, but he does everything he can to postpone this test, to find out what it is in order to prepare himself to do whatever needs to be done.
Tabet’s brother Macon believes that Niko is evil, and he doesn’t want his sister running away with him, like their mother — who was possibly their father’s own sister — ran off with another man. Macon is also secretly in love with his sister. Jealousy clouds his mind; he wants to marry Tabet and assume the throne, and so he conspires with a warlock named Seth in order to achieve his desires. But Macon can’t have it both ways. According to Seth, to take love away from Tabet, another love must be given. Seth says he will help Macon, in exchange for Tabet’s hand in marriage. Macon reluctantly agrees, and he and Seth plot with sorcerous deeds and a murderous act that set future events into motion. As for Niko, he’s trapped in this city, mired in its politics, religion, magic, and the machinations of Seth, Macon, and even Tabet. For Niko, who is the only mortal in this city at the edge of time, the city could destroy him with its immortality.
During the feast celebrating Princess Tabet’s betrothal to Niko, everything changes for Macon and Seth when King Genos names her king. Seth, however, has concocted a love spell that turns Tabet’s heart away from Niko, and she spurns him. Niko feels betrayed; the sparks of love have been put down, and now he’s truly without an ally in the city. He’s become a pawn in the game Macon and Seth play in the name of love, and the love of power. Everything then changes when Tempus and Jihan arrive in the city and are admitted to the feast, where they are reunited with Niko. This is when sparks of a different kind are fanned into flames — literally and figuratively. For Seth the warlock and Prince Macon have plotted to set a fire during the funeral of the woman they murdered, a fire to serve their own needs, and one that soon gets out of hand and threatens the city. Together, Niko, Tempus, and Jihan fight to save the eternal city of immortals from destruction. All hell then breaks loose as Niko and his companions set out to confront Seth in his sorcerous lair.
If you’ve read the other novels and stories of Tempus, Niko, and the Sacred Band, if you are a fan of Janet and Chris Morris’ style of heroic fantasy, then add City at the Edge of Time to your reading list. Even if you haven’t read the other novels in the series, this is a good place to start, I think. You won’t be disappointed.
Politics, deadly magic, legend, love and the machinations of gods abound in this fantasy tale of immortals, pawns and power. This is the fifth Sacred Band novel and steps aside from the usual locations to a mythic city lost in time. When Nikodemos literally falls from the sky in a god-born storm he must not only save himself from the strange and hostile customs of the place but save the city from the wrath of gods and mages. This book, more than the other Sacred Band tales, is Niko’s adventure and of all the characters he is the one who the reader takes to heart. Whereas most of the others are more than human, demigod, or wizard Niko is the fighter whose courage and honour shine brightly but he is a mortal man, with all the flaws entailed. This is Niko's tale - can he deal with these strange people, the woman who loves him, and away from his bond with the band.
As usual, the pace is fast and the writing melodious and intelligent. The Sacred Band books are not for the faint of heart, or those shocked by violence and bloodshed. This is a tale of friendship, but also mistrust, a tale of immortality but also death, and a tale of love and hatred, thus it is many-layered, supremely crafted tale which thrills the reader.
It does help to be familiar with the characters – but it can be read as a stand-alone. You'll soon love Tempus, Niko and their world. Don't expect this to be Sanctuary, the city here is strange, ancient and apart from the world - an immortal wanderer - like Tempus himself. And the challenges are very different.
In many ways, this is a story about being stuck in the past, the old ways and the terror of 'what is out there' and the new. It's a tale of having strayed from the correct path, of corruption and the will to power.
Grab this book and lose yourself in the world Morris weaves. Nothing will ever seem quite the same again with such magic.
I have read other books in this series and enjoyed all of them. This one is well-plotted and just as enthralling as the other books in the Sacred Band Series. Kudos to the authors—Janet and Chris Morris.