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The Drowning City (Necromancer Chronicles, Bk 1) Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 2009
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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;
+ 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.
- 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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was a hodge-podge of different cultures that left me confused as to the foundation that the story is being built on. Read morePublished 5 months ago by sandphics
Isyllt, necromancer and spy, comes to Symir to finance a revolution--only to find herself and her companions ensnared by the city's complex politics. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Juushika
This is a decent escapist fantasy, if you're looking for a setting that hasn't been done to death. If you're looking for memorable characters, though, best look elsewhere. Read morePublished 16 months ago by E. Smiley
The novel overall is interesting. But it does tend to drag in a couple of areas. Some of the "twists" we're not that much of a surprise if you paid attention.Published 18 months ago by N Jenkins
The Drowning City is a promising debut that overcomes its few hiccups by the conclusion of the book. Downum is definitely one to watch. Read morePublished 19 months ago by paddy567
not as enjoyable as I thought it would be however it could get better as the series continues as some do. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Amazon Customer
My reading preferences shy away from fantasy, but I read this as part of the Heroines Book Club for our local book shop. Read morePublished 23 months ago by ricefun
As an avid fantasy reader I'd like to tell you that this is by far the most badly written book I've ever read. Read morePublished on July 25, 2014 by fantasyfreak