City of Blades (The Divine Cities #2) by Robert J Bennett

Posted On 25 January 2016

Filed under Book Reviews

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City of Blades.jpgUnless there’s a new world order in the next 11 months City of Blades will undoubtedly be on my end of year ‘best of’ list.  To be honest, I expected this to be good because all the books I’ve read by RJB have been good and I loved City of Stairs last year but this really is so very good.

At the start of the story we are once again introduced to General Turyin Mulaghesh.  She’s retired to a small ‘mediterranean’ feeling island and is enjoying her seclusion, particularly when she’s riling up the locals, until she’s rudely jolted out of her retirement by a request from Shara.  So Turyin is sent to the City of Voortyashtan – apparently one of the last places in this world that anyone would want to go.   Her mission is to try and discover what happened to Choudhry, a Saypuri agent who has gone missing in action.

Before the blink Voortyashtan was home to the Goddess of death, war and destruction. It is now on the brink of becoming a successful seaport however not everyone is happy with the current status.  It appears that work on creating a successful gateway is dredging up not just artifacts from the sea bottom but also strong emotions.  On top of this brutal and ritualistic type murders are discovered across the island and Turyin is about to be pulled into a plot that not only conjures up the ghosts of her past but also poses a threat to the world in which she lives.

The world building is once again outstanding.  Voortyashtan is a difficult place to live to say the least.  It seems to be under constant threat of retaliation from the unsecured interior districts.  The port itself is protected by an army presence and an imposing fort but any travel further afield is dangerous and not to be lightly undertaken.  There is a constant threat of subversive/guerrilla type action that makes any investigation into the goings on even more difficult.  Personally I would recommend reading City of Stairs before picking this one up although I think you could probably jump on board with Blades and pick up the story fairly easily.  Bennett has a way of gently easing you into the world and feeding you information in a very manageable way.  So, whilst I would, of course, recommend reading City of Stairs first (partly because I enjoyed it so much partly because I think it gives a good grounding in the history of the Saypuri’s, Continentals and the Divinities that used to exist) I think this could be read as a standalone.

I must admit that I was at first a little surprised that the author chose to continue this series using Turyin as the main character because Sigrud and Shara were firm favourites for most readers, myself included, but I must say not only does he pull it off but he does so with style and creates one of the most wonderfully complex, flawed, intelligent and easy to root for characters that I’ve read about for a while.  I absolutely loved her.  The power of good writing and a bit of creative genius, eh!

The other characters who join Turyin along the way are Signe.  Signe is another very enjoyable character to read about.  She’s an engineering genius by all accounts and seems to be almost single handedly running the entire operation to create a successful seaport.  On top of this Signe is Sigrud’s daughter and I can’t say she’s his biggest fan.  She hasn’t really forgiven him for what she feels was his abandonment when she was still fairly young and given these feelings the fact that Sigrud makes an appearance during the second half of the book makes for interesting reading.  Biswal is another character and something of an unwanted blast from Turyin’s past – this was a dark time in Turyin’s life and a period that has haunted her for many years.  Biswal is now the commander at the fort and once again making his acquaintance is going to bring back painful memories.

I can’t really say too much about the plot as it would just give things away.  There’s definitely a ‘whodunnit’ type of feel to this book with Turyin investigating the disappearance of an agent until the plot opens up to reveal a much deeper threat.  That being said, be aware that this isn’t one of those stories where tens of thousands march to war.  It has a more confined feeling, which isn’t intended as a criticism, because Bennett manages to cram in battles, murders, Gods, mines, afterlifes, intrigue, politics, scheming and, well a lot more!  It certainly has a different feeling from City of Stairs with much more focus on soldiering and serving which I suppose can be expected as we’re following Turyin.  Such a clever device to use Turyin though as it allows Bennett to delve back into the past and reveal more of the history of this world.

Overall, I was quite blown away by City of Stairs.  The writing is wonderful, the story is intriguing the characters are excellent to follow, the ending, well, I’m just not going to go there, it’s sad, but also it has an amazing resolution and frankly it just leaves me wanting more.  I don’t see how you could have a stronger recommendation than that.  More, please, I want more.

I received a copy through Edelweiss courtesy of the publisher for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.







13 Responses to “City of Blades (The Divine Cities #2) by Robert J Bennett”

  1. Tammy

    Yes to all these things! Really love this series, and I agree, Mulaghesh is quite the character. I also loved Signe and especially her relationship with Sigrud. So much drama!

  2. Jenn

    Another glowing review for this book 🙂 I’m behind, still only just starting City of Stairs, but it’s good to know the sequel lives up!

    • @lynnsbooks

      Well, you have such a lot to look forward to which is great.
      Lynn 😀

  3. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Oh, I need to make the time for this one! 🙂

    • @lynnsbooks

      It was very good. I went into it almost a little sceptically but it was very good and had me absolutely drawn in!
      Lynn 😀

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    City of Blades was utter perfection. As much as I liked the first book, I don’t think I connected to it as strongly as I could have, but this one had me hooked straight away. I haven’t seen a bad review of this yet.

    • @lynnsbooks

      I actually was a little wary going into it, almost like deep down I resented that Sigrud and Shara weren’t going to be the lead – but it bowled me over. After only a few pages I was totally hooked.
      Lynn 😀

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