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Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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The Drowning City (Necromancer Chronicles, Bk 1) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 2009

3.5 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Downum effectively combines action, magic, police procedure and political intrigue in this complex and striking debut. Isyllt Iskaldur, a Selafaïan forensic necromancer, travels to the monsoon-soaked canal city of Symir, capital of Sivahra. Her plot to undermine the occupying Assari Empire before it can invade Selafai is complicated by her attraction to handsome Imperial fire-mage Asheris. Isyllt's bodyguard Xinai, a Sivahran native, despises the empire for its brutal destruction of her clan; young apprentice mage Zhirin Laii struggles between love for a guerrilla leader and loyalty to her mother, a respected politician. Refreshingly, Downum treats necromancy as an unclean but necessary defense against evil and nicely handles the complex nuances of a quasi-Westerner fomenting revolution in a quasi-Asian country occupied by quasi-Arabs. A strong (if not happy) conclusion still leaves plenty of room for sequels. (Sept.)
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Review

Lush, evocative. Amanda Downum creates a richly relaised, refreshingly Eastern world full of charms and spirits, espionage and ibtrigue and the wars of great power fought by proxy Brent Weeks Downum effectively combines action, magic, police procedure and political intrigue in this complex and striking debut. PUBLISHERS WEEKLY Like the worlds she imagines, the words of Amanda Downum are lyrical, persuasive, and evocative. If you read only one first novel this year, read this one. I promise it's good Elizabeth Bear Intense, atmospheric fun STRANGE HORIZONS A very enjoyable first novel SFREVU --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780316069045
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316069045
  • ASIN: 0316069043
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,194,529 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback
Isyllt Iskaldur, the necromancer with the unpronounceable first name, takes the center stage in the Byzantine political spy novel called 'The Drowning City.' Well at least until page 23, when the girl Zhirin is tossed at the readers as a viewpoint character for no good reason. She isn't the last tangent. Both of Isyllt's bodyguards have despair filled back stories, but only Xinai (the female with roots in the city) spends tens of pages as a perspective characters.

This book isn't a 'quick' read; it's confusing. You've got to keep straight who's doing what, who's working for who, and what faction(s) everyone is a part of, be it Symir, Assari, Selfali, Sivahra or simply a sub-faction in the Assari Empire. The important names revolve around the letter 'S' and are hard to keep distinct. By mid-book this isn't much of a problem, but for the first fifty pages you may have to read passages again. Expect spy politics.

Continuing the naming annoyances, the author makes up words for common terms such as 'mekelit' for mother, and renames common animals and objects exotic sounding words. No glossary exists in the book. Characters talk these new phrases like every page. But it isn't as bad as the flaws indicate. This novel did have a plot, though the non-main characters do make stupid choices to advance it.

Overall, I liked Isyllt Iskaldur, but she didn't have enough page count. Only half the book was about her. For a first novel this wasn't bad, but it's not deserving the huge blurb hype on the cover. I admit to buying it because an author I respect wrote 'If you only read one novel this year, read this one.' That piece of advice isn't something you should take to heart. It's an intriguing first novel, with gem-based magic and vengeful ghosts in a foreign and exotic land. The author leaves much room for getting better in later sequels. An OK book to try, yet not one I'd go running into if you have a large stack of books waiting to be read.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I'll be honest, I wasn't sure The Drowning City would work for me. The cover is awesome and the back-cover blurb is intriguing, but for some reason, I just got the feeling it was a story aimed more toward a female readership.

Before I even got to the map, though, I was impressed by Amanda Downum's choice of opening quotes. The first quote is from Emily Dickinson, which would have been impressive even by itself, but then just below that is a line from one of my all-time favorite bands, Rage Against the Machine. I said to myself, "Oh, Hells yeah!!" Any author who has the cojones to quote Rage Against the Machine has my complete attention and utmost respect.

Moving on to the novel itself, The Drowning City tells the story of Isyllt Iskaldur, a necromancer and spy. Isyllt's mission is to help overthrow the Imperial government in the tropical island city of Symir. Symir is based on Southeast Asian culture around the time that they were starting to use primitive firearms. Downum's choice of setting took me out of my comfort zone. I tend to prefer medieval, ancient, and sometimes Victorian settings in fantasy novels, and so Downum had a challenge in winning me over (despite her excellent taste in music). She succeeded, however, and I enjoyed The Drowning City very much.

The Drowning City is filled with dark and scary places, and characters that are often not quite what they seem. Ghosts, spirits, and demons are very real and a constant threat. Magic is more prevalent than what I usually care for in a story, but in this haunting tale it fits very well.

I'm a big fan of the Dark & Gritty Fantasy but The Drowning City isn't quite that. I think I'd call it Dark & Haunting. Amanda Downum may just be a force to be reckoned with, and this is only her first novel. I'm anxious for the next installment: The Bone Palace.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
[This review is based on an Advanced Reading Copy]

Get used to those words as you'll see them repeatedly in every chapter. Granted I can be rather picky about grammar but these reoccuring phrases really lowered the credibility of the author/book. Next time please hire a better editor or at the very least pick up a Thesaurus and proof read it yourself! Now on to the book itself. Isyllt Iskaldur is a necromancer and spy ordered to stir up a revolution in the city of Symir. A city in the expanding Assari Empire which is eyeing the northern kingdom of Selafai. She travels with her bodyguard (Adam - an uncreative name considering the rest of the characters) and Xinai (a local tribeswoman/mercenary returning home for the first time in many years). As they investigate the city they meet a few interesting characters and discover that there is already a turbulent revolution brewing that just needs a spark to ignite. This situation forces characters to join sides which in turn splinters the main story between Isyllt and Xinai. Without giving too much more away here are my thoughts on the book;

Pros

+ A few interesting characters, namely Isyllt and Asheris although I felt they could have been a bit more fleshed out than they were. Hopefully that will happen in later books.

+ Great cover art and intruiging back teaser.

+ Book had a map, although I would have liked to see more detail.

Cons

- Blend of Asian and Middle Eastern culture (obviously inspired by the author's time spent abroad) tends to fall flat without description amongst the story.

- Several missed opportunities for action sequences.
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