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City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett

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City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett
Narrator: Alma Cuervo
Series: The Divine Cities #2
Published by Recorded Books on January 26, 2016
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery
Length: 20 hrs 27 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
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The city of Voortyashtan was once the domain of the goddess of death, war, and destruction, but now it’s little more than a ruin. General Turyin Mulaghesh is called out of retirement and sent to this hellish place to try to find a Saypuri secret agent who’s gone missing in the middle of a mission, but the city of war offers countless threats: not only have the ghosts of her own past battles followed her here, but she soon finds herself wondering what happened to all the souls that were trapped in the afterlife when the Divinities vanished. Do the dead sleep soundly in the land of death? Or do they have plans of their own?

First a bit of advice, read City of Stairs first. Yes, City of Blades may be almost able to stand on its own, but Stairs is so good and will give you such a better feeling for the main characters in this book and the world they live in.

Although City of Blades is the second in the trilogy, it feels different from Stairs. Stairs was action and magic and politics. Blades is a little darker, sadder, tougher, but just as good, if not better. Our main character this time around is retired General Turyin Mulagesh. she may be one of my favorite heroines. She’s over-50, an alcoholic, one-armed (due to an incident in Stairs), a bit lonely, and full of regrets. But, man, she is tough and smart and caring and tenacious and totally capable of killing you in multiple ways. She is awesome, period. I may still have a bit of a crush on Sigrud, but Turyin even outshines him.

She was more or less forced into this assignment and it’s not an easy one or a fun one. She’s investigating the disappearance of a Saypuri operative, but her other goals is to complete the ongoing undercover operation as to whether a super conductive material in the hills near the fort is Divine or not. The Goddess of War is dead, we know that, so none of her miracles should work, but do they? I don’t want to go too far into plot. It’s a bit complicated, though it all ties together well, and I don’t want to ruin the story for you. Turyin, although a reluctant sleuth, is good at her job. She’s good at finding clues and continuing to search even when it seems she’s presented by a dead end. Or when she’s in conflict with others around her. I love the mix of fantasy and mystery.

There are losses and betrayals and grief. Characters I love are hurt. These soldiers and spies have done the best they can over the years, made tough choices, some right, some wrong. They’ve fought and killed and suffered, and they don’t get any breaks here in Voortyashtan. The young and innocent and idealistic are not the heroes here. Those who have lived and lost and keep going regardless are the ones who carry the day, who have the needed resolve.

About Robert Jackson Bennett

Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence.

He lives in Austin with his wife and son.

City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett

by
City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
Narrator: Alma Cuervo
Series: The Divine Cities #1
Published by Recorded Books on September 9, 2014
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery
Length: 17 hrs 49 mins
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Amazon or Audible
Add on Goodreads

The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world's new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy. Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani.

Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov's oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country's most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov's cruel reign may not yet be over.

The world in City of Stairs is awesome! Deities used to be involved in a close, daily basis with their followers, building and changing the world, allowing one country to rule. The gods have been killed or have disappeared, their people now at the mercy of others, the city itself transformed, the weather changing. It is not surprising that there are some in Bulikov who are not happy living under the thumb of their conquerors, some who are wiling to do whatever they can to make Bulikov thrive again.

Into this arena arrives Shara, a woman whose job as an intelligence agent is to maintain the status quo but whose interests lie in the past, in the history of the gods and the miracles they allowed. She has chosen this assignment to investigate the murder of a man she truly admired, but when we’re talking about governments and politics and gods, dead or not, it gets complicated. Shara begins to suspect that those closest to her are perhaps not who they appear.

I like the intrigue, and while I question some of Shara’s choices they do help shape her as a character. She’s strong and confident, but not always. Now her sidekick, Sigrud, rocks. That’s all I can say really. He’s incredibly tough and brave (or doesn’t care if he dies) but we learn more about him, or he becomes more, as the story progresses. They work together well, fill in each other’s weaknesses. Maybe he’s a bit too good at what he does, but I don’t care, I’d definitely want him on my side in a fight. Hopefully we’ll see more of him in the future.

City of Stairs had the potential to be fabulous, but it didn’t quite make it there for me. I can’t really even put my finger on why. Fabulous world. great, full characters, a couple of awesome action scenes. I was listening to this on audio and at one point had to jump on-line to search for spoilers – I was worried Sigrud had bit off more that he could chew. That’s the problem with audios – you can just skip to the end to see what happens. Very stressful. So I cared about the characters, but maybe I didn’t care about the plot’s outcome. It was good, but the next in the series might just hit amazing.

About Robert Jackson Bennett

Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence.

He lives in Austin with his wife and son.

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