Review: The Unconquered City by K.A. Doore

Series: Chronicles of Ghadid, #3
Published by: Tor Books
ISBN: 0765398591
ISBN 13: 9780765398598
Published: June 2020
Pages: 400
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: The Perfect Assassin (Chronicles of Ghadid, #1) | The Impossible Contract (Chronicles of Ghadid, #2)

Seven years have passed since our favourite characters from books one and two saved Ghadid from the nightmarish events that are spoilers for book two.

This book focuses on Illi, who lost her family in the siege and now lives under Thana’s care. She was too young for the family business in a professional sense but did receive many years of training, only to be one of the first denied official status when it was decided that the assassins wouldn’t be needed in their former capacity. Now she and the cousins keep Ghadid safe in other ways. Primarily against the Guul.

Heru is still there, and about as popular as he’s ever been. When it turns out he’s been harbouring a terrible spoiler from a previous book Ghadid throw him out. Frustrated they can’t see his brilliance, and at how dismissive they are at the fact Heru helped save Ghadid, and for… other reasons… Illi follows him. And it doesn’t hurt that a certain someone is part of the caravan, someone Illi hadn’t planned on seeing again, but certainly isn’t disappointed to be spending more time with them at all.

Like the first and second book we focus on different characters in the third. Amastan and Thana are certainly important characters but the focus is on Illi, and the grief that’s still haunting her from the siege and everything they experienced with Thana and the rest were saving Ghadid from a different part of the land. Illi was right in the middle of it, fighting the re-risen dead, seeing the fires gut their homes, and all the rest of it.

Characters still drive this book, although the plot is still engaging and fast paced, thanks to be large amount of travelling that takes up this book. Representation is throughout. The fight scenes are engaging and believable, as is the healing, religion, and world building in general. If I could have anything I’d have liked to see more mention of the food, but that’s always been a quirk of mine.

This is easily a series that could keep going indefinite really – focusing on more and more cousins, then more generations and so forth. So if you could just get on that, please, that would be awesome.

Review: The Empire of Gold by S.A. Chakraborty

Series: The Daevabad Trilogy #3
Published by: Harper Voyager
ISBN: 0008239495
ISBN 13: 9780008239497
Published: June 2020
Pages: 782
Format reviewed: eCopy from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) | The Kingdom of Copper (The Daevabad Trilogy #2)

And so we come to the end of the Daevabad Trilogy journey. I was lucky in that I started reading this series last year rather than when it first came out, so I haven’t had long to wait at all.

Short notes are:

  • I’m so glad/thankful it’s so long
  • I love Fiza
  • I cried

Spoilers for books one and two will be beyond this point.

Continue reading

Review: The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty

Series: The Daevabad Trilogy #2
Published by: Harper Voyager
ISBN: 0008239444
ISBN 13: 9780008239442
Published: February 2019
Pages: 625
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: The City of Brass (The Daevabad Trilogy #1) | The Empire of Gold (The Daevabad Trilogy #3)

So as you probably know, there’s a thing called ‘middle book syndrome’, where series can often be three books long but the second one drags – there only to end with a cliffhanger and set everything up for the final book. It’s often thought that with better editing a lot of trilogies out there could be a far better duology.

This isn’t the case in this series. The second book is, in part, better than the first book. The first set up the world and the second expands upon it, delving in deeper now with our prior knowledge allowing the reader to get more out of what we started with. The first book set up the characters and the second brings in more for us to learn and love (or eye suspiciously). It’s just as exciting, carries just as much weight, develops the characters, and is just as engaging.

Beyond this are spoilers for the first book. Pretty hard to set up a brief summary of a second book without it!

Continue reading

Review: The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

Series: The Daevabad Trilogy #1
Published by: Harper Voyager
ISBN: 0062678108
ISBN 13: 9780062678102
Published: November 2017
Pages: 533
Format reviewed: Paperback
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: The Kingdom of Copper (The Daevabad Trilogy #2) | The Empire of Gold (The Daevabad Trilogy #3)

Nahri has never known her family. Still, she’s managed to scrap together a stall in the markets of Cairo and has a variety of skills that keep her relatively properly clothed and fed. She has an almost uncanny ability in reading a mark, picking up any language, cure relatively minor ailments, and conning wealthy invaders who bring war to Cairo and stride around like they own the place.

She thinks this is what life holds for her. She dreams of somehow, some day getting enough money together in order to convince a university to allow her entrance so she can one day practice to be a real doctor, but along that path her life is turned upside down. One night when she’s innocently pretending to perform a religious rite to rid a young child of a possession, words that have always been fond gibberish to her somehow invite something distinctly other. A being who Nahri didn’t think could possibly exist. And this someone, upon meeting her, soon connects the dots – her ability to call him in the first place, an uncanny affinity for languages, the healing… and then throw in the fact the being possessing the young child seems out to murder Nahri, she has little choice but to flee her beloved Cairo with her new friend, and if she finally finds out where she came from then, well, all the better.

He tells her of what he suspects is her homeland, and of the warring magical beings who are also from their world – beings of fire, water, earth and air.  The firey six djinn tribes – Geziri, Ayaanle, Daeva, Sahrayn, Agnivanshi, Tukharistanis. Along the way she meets Ifrit, also of fire. The Peri, of air. When they first met and were fighting for her life, they ran from ghouls, of the earth. And she also meets, right on the edge of her new safe haven, the marid.

Somehow alive, Nahri enters Daevabad and is swept before the royal family, where she finds out that her friend has much more to him than his pretty green eyes and bickering that’s starting to border on flirtation than she initially thought. She thought she was able to con anyone, but she’s never been exposed to court politics. And when she starts to learn who and what she is, that’s only the very beginning of what else she’ll soon find out.

Her greatest wish was to study medicine. She at least gets that, as well as as much magical lore that could be needed when you involve real and true magic. Humans can only have so much disease and illness after all – imagine what you get when you throw in other races, other elements, and other medicinal ingredients that Nahri once thought belonged in fairytales.

 

My summary really doesn’t do this book justice. How does one sum up a cast of 20 or so detailed characters, multiple heritages and customs, at least three languages, creatures of all four elements, and a bloody and frantic history that spins and consumes you, perfectly balanced, showing multiple sides of ongoing conflicts so you see fault on both sides, and see the reason there are fights to the death over this.

Chakraborty has delivered something truly excellent with this book. I read it last year, and again recently in preparation for the third book, and it’s even more amazing the second time around when you know most of it, leaving you open to really experience the finer points of the truly wonderful world building.

Telling the book from multiple points of view is exactly what’s needed here. While Nahri is our main character the glimpses we get from a few of her closest companions show sides of the world we wouldn’t get to see otherwise. And while in some books I feel frustrated when a new chapter starts and the chapter title says another character’s name and jumps across a city… that’s never been the case in this one. Each character and side of the plot is just as gripping, just as immersive.

If you want to lose yourself in some high fantasy I can’t recommend this series enough.

Review: The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

Published by: Pan Macmillan Australia
ISBN: 1509882804
ISBN 13: 9781509882816
Published: April 2020
Pages: 320
Format reviewed: eVersion from NetGalley
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Four out of Five

Usually I start my reviews with a brief plot summary and who our main characters are, however, The Glass Hotel makes this a little difficult as the characters are very intertwined and the plot isn’t linear so it’s hard to know where to start without easily spoiling it somewhat.

I came to this book because Station Eleven was my favourite book of the year. The Glass Hotel certainly has the same narrative style – where the book is told from multiple points of view and points in time, jumping forward and back and sideways so you see and understand what drives the characters, and why seemingly innocuous things affect them. It also focuses on what drives the characters, and how really we all boil down to as base-level humans, regardless of our status or intelligence and so forth.

So in those ways, The Glass Hotel and Station Eleven are quite similar. In all other regards they’re different, with one being futuristic and this being set in the here and the past. They’re both gritty, but one in a survival kind of way whereas this is the ego and greed-driven landscape of the wealthy.

Why should you pick up this book? The characters. Vincent, in particular, who works as a bartender at the aforementioned hotel. We start the novel by following her older brother who has a drug problem, and follow as she enters the world of the filthy rich, and is there right when the 2008 financial crisis strikes. Mandel manages to make this not only interesting but engaging. The characters are what drive this narrative and it’s just as excellent as Station Eleven was. It’s only that I adore dystopian that I prefer the other book slightly more – as far as quality, writing style, and engaging characters, this book ticks all those boxes.

Highly recommended, and I can’t wait to see what the author delivers next.