Title: City of Stairs
Author: Robert Jackson Bennett
Series: The Divine Cities #1
Read via: Kindle
Summary: Bulikov once housed six divinities who enacted miracles upon the city and who were revered by the Continentals, the local populace. The Saypuri, the enslaved and oppressed minority group, were able to topple the gods and shift the balance of power in Bulikov. Now, hundreds of years later, certain Continentals seek to restore things to the way they once were through any means necessary.
Reminiscent of: Brandon Sanderson’s Cosmere; the setting of Elantris, the history and class struggle of the Mistborn novels, the industrial elements of The Alloy of Law, politics and plot elements of The Traitor Baru Cormorant.
Review: I strongly considered giving up on this novel at several points in the early going. I was thrown off by the mix of modern and ancient elements and also put off by the lack of nuance in the discussion of one character’s forbidden sexuality. Thankfully, I pushed on after reading numerous glowing reviews that promised big payoffs for all the loose threads presented in the beginning chapters.
Many of the reviews I had read complained about the heavy emphasis on history in this novel, but every motivation of each group of characters was rooted in the rich history of Bulikov. Without it, you’re left with no context for the conflicts that occur amongst the warring factions. There was enough action blended with the politics and history to be engaging to me as a reader.
Overall, I really enjoyed Bennett’s writing style. It was not flowery and there was nary an “SAT word” to be found, but everything was smoothly written and flowed very nicely. The story was intricately plotted, featured likable characters, and had an ending that felt complete and satisfying. I look forward to picking up the sequel, City of Blades, in the near future.
★★★★½ out of 5