Saturday, July 9, 2016

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

23909755This review was written by: B
Received: Blogging for Books
Publication Date of Book: January 2016 
Pages: 484 (2016 Paperback Edition)
Stars: 5/5

Official Summary:
A century ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of supernatural sentinels who killed and enslaved millions.

Now the city's god is dead.  The city itself lies in ruins.  And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings.

So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh -- foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumored war criminal, ally of an embattled prime minister -- has been exiled there to count down the days until she can retire and be forgotten.

At least, it makes the perfect cover story.

The truth is that the general has been pressed into service one last time, dispatched to investigate a terrifying discovery.  For while the city's god is most certainly dead, something is awakening in Voortyashtan.  And someone is determined to make the world tremble at the city's awful power again.

My Thoughts:
Five years after the ending of City of Stairs, General Mulagesh is laying low and slowly biding her time until she can retire.  She wants nothing more to do with the brutal bloodshed and death she's dealt with since her youth.  In fact, being positioned at a desk job or living in the middle of nowhere is just fine with her.  However, no amount of planning on her part could ever stop the cunning Prime Minister Shara from wanting talented Mulagesh back on the battlefield, though, only this time as an undercover operative.  And so begins Turyin's spiraling descent into further mysteries of the Divine and a heck of a way to wait out the end of her career.  

When I first heard that there would be a follow-up novel to City of Stairs, I was beyond ecstatic.  However, after I found out that Shara would take a backseat role, I began to have my doubts.  She was an undoubtedly brilliant character to follow, and I was crushed that I would not be seeing a great deal more of her sharp-witted, perceptive character.  Mulagesh was an interesting enough side character in City of Stairs, but I didn't think of her as someone I wanted to pursue for four hundred and fifty plus pages.  Robert Jackson Bennett proved me wrong, though, and demonstrated just how capable and versatile of an author he truly is!  While Mulagesh is no spring chicken, that doesn't mean that she can't be a complete badass.  I like to think that her age allowed for the story to have more depth to it because of her accountability, past experiences, and knowledge in warfare.  Mulagesh also refused to let her crippled arm be a nuisance to her, pushing herself to continue to do everything she had before it was taken from her at the Battle of Bulikov.  Her resourcefulness and brilliant perspective threw me for a loop and made me retract all of the qualms that I had beforehand. I also began to appreciate how RJB could bring even more diversity and possibilities to the story using Mulagesh instead of Shara, evolving the sequel into something phenomenal and deeper on the most basic human level.

What truly impressed me was how far the author delved into what it means to be a soldier.  Yes, it is wonderful to be victorious, and yes, who would not want to win the war?  However, RJB covered how winning may come at a greater price than what one might have originally bargained for.  With Mulagesh, he was able to tell a realistic tale that delved into what I believe to be the full spectrum of a true warrior, touching base on such subjects as post-traumatic stress disorder and loss.  On a more positive note, we were able to see further, absolutely flawless world building and some returning characters.  (When Sigrud came on scene, I may have squealed!)

The Divine Cities series contains a world that'll attract you like a moth to a flame (or like a bibliophile to a Barnes & Noble!).There is never a dull moment.  Either you're falling deeper into the back stories or you're holding on to the action with all you've got.  Robert Jackson Bennett weaves twisting mysteries and fantastical stories together in the most intriguing of ways, creating a perfect blend that any fantasy reader will suddenly want to devour!  I know that I can count on this man to hold back none of his brilliance, but instead wow me time and time again.

Please note that I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.

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