Review: City of Miracles (The Divine Cities #3) – Robert Jackson Bennett

31522139My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Date read: October 7th, 2017

Published by Broadway Books, May 2017.

Verdict: wow. wow. wow.

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Revenge. It’s something Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is very, very good at. Maybe the only thing.

So when he learns that his oldest friend and ally, former Prime Minister Shara Komayd, has been assassinated, he knows exactly what to do — and that no mortal force can stop him from meting out the suffering Shara’s killers deserve.

Yet as Sigrud pursues his quarry with his customary terrifying efficiency, he begins to fear that this battle is an unwinnable one. Because discovering the truth behind Shara’s death will require him to take up arms in a secret, decades-long war, face down an angry young god, and unravel the last mysteries of Bulikov, the city of miracles itself. And — perhaps most daunting of all — finally face the truth about his own cursed existence.

This was absolutely bloody fantastic. Robert Jackson Bennet managed to somehow add even more layers to an already layered series, enough so that I contemplated re-reading the first two books just to able to appreciate them even more. It is an impressively wonderful trilogy and a world I am very sad to have to leave.

This third and last book of this marvelous trilogy follows Sigrud; after the events of the previous book he has lived off the grid when the news of Shara’s death reach him and he decides to do what he considers he does best: revenge. While he was more at the sidelines in the earlier books, he now takes centre stage and the book’s structure represents this.

I adored this: I found Sigrud’s journey fascinating and him as a character wonderfully well-rounded and flawed, which is especially brilliant because he could have so easily become a walking trope. I am not usually a fan of the brooding, suffering, angry protagonist but him I adored. His development over these three books is believable and heartbreaking. Every single one of his actions, even the brutal ones, is infused with neverending sadness. He often acts without thinking and as a reader we follow: it is only in the aftermath of slaughter that Sigrud (and in extension the reader) pauses to consider that these were people, people with families of their own. There are no easy answers here and this is a big strength of this book and of Sigrud as the main focus. But even in all this sadness and horror, there is a sense of hope, of maybe finding a way to survive just for another day and another chance at making amends.

This is a very clever series, one that trusts its readers to think along and I love that in books. I had some things figured out in advance this time and could appreciate how brilliant the pieces were out in place. Still, even knowing what was to come in parts, this packed such an emotional punch when the big finale came along.

Very very worthy final book of a brilliant series.

First sentence:
“The young man is first disdainful, then grudgingly polite as Rahul Khadse approaches and asks him for a cigarette.”

Review: The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth #3) – N. K. Jemisin

31817749My rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Date read: 24 August 2017

Published by Orbit, August 2017

Verdict: Mesmerizingly brilliant with a framing device that I adored so much.

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THIS IS THE WAY THE WORLD ENDS… FOR THE LAST TIME.

The Moon will soon return. Whether this heralds the destruction of humankind or something worse will depend on two women.

Essun has inherited the power of Alabaster Tenring. With it, she hopes to find her daughter Nassun and forge a world in which every orogene child can grow up safe.

For Nassun, her mother’s mastery of the Obelisk Gate comes too late. She has seen the evil of the world, and accepted what her mother will not admit: that sometimes what is corrupt cannot be cleansed, only destroyed.

And this is how you end a trilogy.

This book was quite possibly (/definitely) my most anticipated book of the year; N. K. Jemisin has yet to dissappoint me and I just love love love her brand of fantasy. I love how intricate and well thought out her worlds are and how political they are at their core while she still never ever sacrifices her story to make a point. The final installment made me appreciate the overall brilliant work she has done in creating this cruel, wonderful, amazing world even more.

This world and its social structure makes so much sense and feels so real that it made me sad. It is perfectly structured to mirror our own world in miserable ways. I adore this political core and its relevance (<spoiler> and its ultimate optimism </spoiler>). I adore the originality of the stone eaters (and their creation myth in particular) and how their interactions are always just a little bit off to never let the reader forget that they are <i>different</i>.

But even more than the world building I adore the characters. They are what makes this book for me a true favourite: Essun and Nassun are such vividly imagined, flawed, wonderful creations and adore how their actions and reactions mirror each other while they are still separate and complete characters in their own right. I love how this, at its core, is a story of family, blood and found, about how violence breeds violence, how mistakes can be repeated, how decisions shape our lives.

On thing I realized upon finishing this book is how much I appreciate how N. K. Jemisin frames her stories; I love how the framing makes sense and its originality, here I especially adore it. The framing device used fits perfectly to the world she has created here and to the way her story unfolds.

So yes, brilliant way to end a brilliant trilogy. I cannot recommend the series enough. I am in love, still. (And heartbroken.)

First sentences: “Time grows short, my love. Let’s end with the beginning of the world, shall we? Yes. We shall.”

 

Review: City of Blades (The Divine Cities #2) – Robert Jackson Bennett

28436115My Rating: 4/5 stars

Date read: 06 August 2017

Published by Jo Fletcher Books, January 2016

Verdict: Go and read it!

Find it on Goodreads.

The city of Voortyashtan was once the domain of the goddess of death, war, and destruction, but now it’s little more than a ruin. General Turyin Mulaghesh is called out of retirement and sent to this hellish place to try to find a Saypuri secret agent who’s gone missing in the middle of a mission, but the city of war offers countless threats: not only have the ghosts of her own past battles followed her here, but she soon finds herself wondering what happened to all the souls that were trapped in the afterlife when the Divinities vanished. Do the dead sleep soundly in the land of death? Or do they have plans of their own.

I am in love with the world and the mythology Robert Jackson Bennet created. I am very much in awe with its intricacy and originality. I was getting a bit disillusioned with the genre but this fantasy trilogy is making me a very happy fan. If you haven’t already: go and read it!

Set several years after the events of the first book, the world has not changed as much as Shara wanted it to. When a Ministry operative disappears in Voortyashtan (the city created by the nowdead Goddess of War), Shara manipulates Turyin Mulaghesh to go and try to find her. Mulaghes is still struggling with the awful things she has done in life and feels like she has to atone.

I adored this theme of atonement and of doing better and of trying to leave the world a better place. This book is decidedly darker than the first; Turyin is a lot more hardened and she has done some truly terrible things in the past wars. I loved spending more time with her and this book manages to make her even more badass than the first while also rendering her more human and fragile. She is a brilliantly done character – which is important to me because I always struggle when series shift to a new view point.

What makes this book stand out even more is the absolutely stunning way Robert Jackson Bennett has with words – he creates wonderful sentences and turns of phrases that lift this already brilliant book even higher. His descriptions of the otherworldy settings are a beauty to behold and I cannot wait to see what he conjures up in the next book.

First sentence: “Somewhere around mile three on the trek up the hill Pitry Suturashni decides he would not describe the Javrati sun as ‘warm and relaxing’, as the travel advertisments say.”

Review: The Kingdom of Gods (Inheritanc Trilogy, #3) – N. K. Jemisin

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My rating: 4/5

Date Read: 03 July 2017

Verdict: Still in love.

 

 

 

 

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For two thousand years the Arameri family has ruled the world by enslaving the very gods that created mortalkind. Now the gods are free, and the Arameris’ ruthless grip is slipping. Yet they are all that stands between peace and world-spanning, unending war.

I liked this more as the conclusion of a trilogy than as a book in its own right. It is no secret that I am absolutely in love with N. K. Jemisin’s writing and her brilliant imagination. This book is not exception to this; it is in parts brilliant, poignant, moving, and beautifully crafted; however, for me it did not work quite as well as the previous two books in this trilogy.

This time around we follow Sieh – a decision I was immediately in love with because as you can see in my reviews for The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms and The Broken Kingdoms, he is one of my all-time favourite characters. In the beginning, I loved his narrative voice and the way it differed from both Yeine and Oree. Sadly being in his head proved to be not as much fun as I thought – as he becomes mortal early on he stops being quite so different and otherworldly and as such did not really feel like the Sieh we got to know earlier. I did adore his relationship to both Shahar and Deka in all its complicated and destructive glory, so there’s that.

Ultimately, this book is as much about Yeine as it is about Sieh (much in the way the first book was as much about Nahadoth as it was about Yeine, and the second was about Itempas as much as Oree) and I love what N. K. Jemisin did here. As the series progresses it becomes less clear black and white and becomes more grey: much like the gods and goddesses it concentrates on – I love how clever N. K. Jemisin’s overall plotting is and how tightly constructed and how brilliantly her metaphors work.

While I found this book a tad too long and Sieh’s voice not as convincing as N. K. Jemisin’s other protagonists’, it is still such a satisfying conclusion to a trilogy I adore. So, yes, still in love.

First sentence:

She looks so much like Enefa, I think, the first time I see her.”