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urban fantasy

City of Blades : Robert Jackson Bennett

… kick-ass hero against rich world building …

city of blades locus awards

Sequel to City of Stairs (which I absolutely loved), City of Blades is a more sombre yet still an extremely satisfying novel with a loveable hero to follow against the incredible backdrop of Robert’s rich world building.

It is quite a challenge to produce a sequel that can stand up to a brilliant and much praised first book. Robert very sensibly refuses to repeat a winning formula and shifts focus to a secondary character from the City  of Stairs. He homes in on the very wonderful Turyin Mulaghesh, a kick-ass, troubled and almost retired General who argues and swears her way through this novel, with the grimmest determination. I adored her.

Though other main and loved characters from the City of Stairs such as Shara and Sigrud appear do, we are following Turyin, this broken, war scarred woman, as she is sent to Voortyashtan, under cover, to investigate the disappearance of another officer. There are murders and assassinations, the politics of occupation and a lot of back history to ramble through and, of course, some divine intervention to contend with.

It’s hard to categorise the genre exactly (not that I want to shove this book in a box) but I would guess it is a mixture of epic fantasy for its soaring, complete and satisfying world building combined with urban fantasy for the wonderful Turyin Mulaghesh‘s approach to life.

Recommended.

Cover design moment: The cover of UK edition is by the Soho-based KS Agency and it made the long list for the Ravenheart Award for fantasy cover art which is chosen by open vote. It features the rocky landscape of his world and hints at the divinity that lies beyond. I love the clean lyricism of  lettering which invites a second look though I think the book deserves something bolder.

City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett was published in the UK by Jo Fletcher Books in January 2016. It is the second in the Divine Cities trilogy.

 

Chasing Embers : James Bennett

… enjoyable urban fantasy with a dragon’s twist … 

Chasing-Embers-final-visual-600x934.jpgThis has a great protagonist, Red Ben Garston, and a mix of satisfying story ideas drawn from myth.  The story is fun, however some of James‘ more florid descriptions stopped me dead as I tried to figure them out.   I do remember some brilliant images though: a wizened witch’s lips being described as a “fish bone” DOES work!

I felt James deserved a better editor as there was too much back story slowing the pace and a whole chunk of substory (about 16 pages) which really should have been excised.

I’m sure the editing will improve and I’m definitely enough curious to read the next in the series … when it arrives.

Cover design moment: The first class UK cover design is by Tracy Winwood who may (or may not) be a British designer based in Winchester.  The internet search I did on her brought up next to nothing.  This is a shame as I thought her design is distinctive and has lots of legroom for development in a Ben Garston series.

Chasing Embers was published on 8 September 2016 by Orbit Books.  I was given a review copy by A Festival of Books.  Thanks, Em!

 

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