“Time is a river, and we are but blades of grass floating upon its waves. To fear the end of the river is to fear being on it at all. And though we may look ahead, and see countless forks, when we look back we see only one way things could ever have gone. All is inevitable.”
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In City of Blades we continue to explore the Continent, this time in Voortyashtan, the city that worshiped Voortya, the divinity of war and death.
Unlike the first book, City of Stairs, this second book in the series does not follow the same main character that the was introduced previously. Shara makes appearances but the story is told from the point of view of Turyin Mulagesh.
Turyin just needs to spend a few more months in military service in order to retain her pension so she can retire into quiet obscurity. Shara tasks her with spending this time in Voortyashtan, a cover for investigating the disappearance of Choudry, another of Shara’s operatives.
It was a little strange not seeing much of Shara. Mulagesh does need to contact her a handful of times so she is in the book but not much and certainly not enough to re-visit what about her helped make the first one so good. Shara’s life has changed drastically since the end of the first book and there was nowhere near enough time with her to explore how those changes have effected her.
The story in Voortyashtan was a good story to followup City of Stairs and Mulagesh is the right character from whose point of view to tell this story. A book from Shara’s point of view would have been largely focused on politics rather than the world that has been created and continuing to exploring it. However, there was just enough mention of how her time as prime minister of Saypur is going to make it obvious that the reader is missing some pretty big developments in this world.
Like the first book, this one starts out a little bit slow as well. Unlike the first one, for some reason it didn’t pick up quite as much.
A lot of what goes on and happens is really interesting. The theme of the oppressed becoming the oppressors is explored a little more deeply in this installment as well as some philosophy over war and its relationship to humanity.
“War is just an absence of peace.”
Because this world just zooms in on one of the various areas of the Continent, as opposed to touching on each of them as the first one did, the worldbuilding wasn’t quite as immersive as City of Stairs was. That is really what it comes down to in comparing the first book and this second book.
Because in addition to these themes that were discussed, the storytelling was a little bit tighter as well. The mystery that is the catalyst for Mulagesh being sent to Voortyashtan is maintained as a focus for the entirety of the book until it is solved, where the first book it was just a catalyst and then the answer was in exposition at the end of the book. That mystery was held closer to center stage here even though there was a lot of other things going on.
For some reason, I just didn’t get that into while reading. I think this simply comes down to the narrowness of the worldbulding and missing Shara.
Although the storytelling didn’t stray so much in this one, I had a really hard time getting into it. It’s strange, but I actually think I like the book now that I have finished it than I did while I was reading. Looking back, I realize how much I enjoyed the themes that were explored and the plot twists and the imagery.
There is nothing worse than a boring book. A bad book is at least interesting to talk about. This one unfortunately is slow and has characters that don’t all live up to the first book. With weaker world building, weaker story, and spoiler stuff I have read for the next novel have me not excited for it. I missed the main character from the first book and Mulagesh was not a laudible enough replacement.
I give props for writing a older aged woman character and writing then well. Other than that I slept through most of this book.