Well, this is a special book.
I downloaded it a while back after recommendations from both The Grimdark Fiction Readers & Writers group on FB and William King. It took me longer to get round to it than I wanted. Two reasons why.
1 – my TBR list is out of control.
2 – I got lost (nicely so) in a few series. (I’m looking at you Bernard Cornwell, Giles Kristian and Nnedi Okorafor.)
It was worth the wait.
- The imagination is stunning.
- The prose is sublime.
- The world is grimly realistic.
- There is a history and depth (Literally. Tunnels. Lots of tunnels. Full of horrible things.) to the city which is unpeeled slowly.
- The characters are well-rounded.
- There is a foul-mouthed saint who SPEAKS IN CAPITAL LETTERS A LOT and has a flaming sword. (Aleena deserves her own book).
- There is humour, politics, justice and injustice and, of course, death.
- As for the ending? See my earlier point about imagination.
I don’t normally like guns & swords mixing in fantasy. This novel does it well. As did The Raven’s Mark. There is another similarity between the two books: Jere and Ryhalt. Those two thief-takers/ monster hunters would make a great double act. (If you could keep them out of the bar.)
I also don’t like too many non-human races. This maybe odd in a fantasy reader but I find it off-putting, especially when they are new races. There is only so much ‘world-building’ I can take before I get lost. This novel has the right balance of humans, ‘established’ non-human races and new creatures: the Crawling Ones, which are utterly foul.
And the names? They are pronounceable and there isn’t an apostrophe in sight. Thank you.
I haven’t got many criticisms. I got lost in a few places and had to reread a few sections to check who was doing what to who(m) for what nefarious reason. The book also meandered a little in the mid-section, though, to be fair, that could have been my insomnia playing tricks on me. Otherwise, that’s it.
Again, this isn’t a long or critical review, but I’m not going to pick faults for the sake of it.
Like I said, it’s a special book. One to reread.
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