Thursday, June 30, 2016

Book Review -- City of Blades

Today we have a recent release by Robert Jackson Bennett: City of Blades. It's the second book in the series, but you don't have to have read the first one to follow the plot.

The story takes place in a fictional world with approximately World War II-level technology. The country of Saypur (basically India) calls aging foul-mouthed general Turyin Mulagesh out of retirement and sends her to the city of Voortyashtan to investigate a mysterious mineral that's been discovered. This substance, dubbed thinadeskite, is a perfect conductor of electricity. This indicates it might be Divine, and the city was once the home of the goddess Voortya. But Voortya was supposed to have been killed years ago, and a Divinity's miracles die when they do. Mulagesh is to determine the origin of thinadeskite and discover the fate of a missing researcher named Sumitra Choudhry.

So Mulagesh goes to the city and meets Signe Harkvaldsson, who's in charge of building a thriving port in Voortyashtan. Signe shows her around, but has her own agenda which might interfere with Mulagesh's mission. Soon, though, they get called to the site of an horrific murder. Mulagesh discovers thinadeskite at the scene, further complicating matters. The killings are believed to be the work of local insurgents, but the truth is far more terrifying than they can imagine.

Now Mulagesh faces mounting questions. What exactly is thinadeskite? What happened to Choudhry? Who--or what--is murdering people in Voortyashtan? Who has stolen explosives and built a secret tunnel into the thinadeskite mine? Is Voortya really dead? The search for answers will take Mulagesh into the afterlife, the fabled City of Blades. What will she find there, and will she be able to return?

City of Blades is a riveting novel. It features an original, well-thought-out setting and compelling protagonist. Mulagesh certainly isn't your typical heroine; she's rough around the edges and wracked with guilt over actions she committed as a child in a soul-crushing war. Such a flawed--but still likeable--main character is a welcome change from the books I usually read.

The decision to base the primary country on India is also a move I wasn't expecting and I like it. I would have liked to have gotten more information on Saypur and its involvement with the Continent where Voortyashtan is located, but perhaps that was given in the first book.

City of Blades, quite simply, grabs you and doesn't let go. I highly recommend it.

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