This, my friends, is how you write an epic, original, engaging fantasy!
Author Robert Jackson Bennett is a wizard, I’m sure of it. He can take a complex, unusual idea and make it simple and ordinary for the reader and likewise take a simple, seemingly ordinary idea and provide a complex world around it, and he blends it all together for a very engaging, totally believable adventure.
General Turyin Mulaghesh is trying to enjoy retirement on a remote section of an island when a messenger manages to find her. Due to a technicality, she hasn’t earned her retirement benefits and she’s being pressed into service again for just a few months. But her official, casual mission of ‘observation’ has a secondary, non-public mission to find out what’s happened to Special Investigator Choudry, who was also sent to this ass-end-of-the-country, unsecured Fort Thinadeshi (“just outside of Voortyashtan proper”) with a secret mission and investigating a rare and unusual mineral called ‘thinadeskite.’
But we wouldn’t be following General Mulagesh’s story if something big wasn’t going to happen.
It is difficult to review this book without giving too much away, and more difficult to synopsize given the intricacies of the relationships of the characters and the history of the world in which this takes place. Trust Bennett, however, to give the reader everything s/he needs to make sense of this world, but also expect to be surprised just when you think you know where this story is going.
For most of the first half of the book, Bennett sets us up by establishing the characters and giving us a bit of a mystery (what is this thinadeskite and what happened to Choudry) mixed with some deadly action (attacks on the fort and brutal murders of some of the locals) with only small hints of anything supernatural or fantasy about this. But this is where Bennett the wizard shows his skills, because when the story takes a strong left turn, it feels perfectly natural and you realize later that all the hints where there for you all along.
This is one of those books that becomes a page-turner the deeper you get in to it. I have a reading routine, but I was constantly breaking my routine in order to read a little more – a little further – in this book each day, and I was exhausted by the time this was done.
This is unquestionably Turyin Mulaghesh’s story, but like the truly great works of fiction, her story impacts the human race and she interacts with mankind and gods alike. And the fact that she is a General, a warrior, has great meaning to everyone around her.
I am immediately jumping in to the next book in the series, but I think that this works fine as a stand-alone novel. You’ll simply want to read more in this story.
Looking for a good book? The City of Blades by Robert Jackson Bennett is a powerful, destined-to-be-a-classic epic fantasy that will have you staying up late in order to keep reading.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The City of Blades
author: Robert Jackson Bennett
series: The Divine Cities #2
publisher: Broadway Books
paperback, 484 pages