Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Review: City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Miracles
Author: Robert Jackson Bennett
Series:  The Divine Cities 3
Publisher:  Broadway Books, May 2, 2017
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages
List Price:  US$16.00 (print); US$11.99 (eBook)
ISBN:  9780553419733 (print); 9780553419740 (eBook)

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.

Qwill's Thoughts

City of Miracles is the 3rd novel in the Divine Cities Trilogy by Robert Jackson Bennett and focuses on Sigrud je Harkvaldsson (one of my favorite characters from the series). Like in the previous 2 novels in the series, City of Stairs and City of Blades, there is a mystery to be solved and Sigrud is the man to do it.

After the events in City of Blades, Sigrud is a wanted man and has been hiding away from civilization for 13 years. He has been waiting for Shara Komayd to reach out to him to tell him that his name has been cleared and he may return. The news of Shara’s death, his closest friend, working partner and mentor, shakes him badly and brings him out of hiding.

Sigrud travels to Ahanashtan to avenge Shara’s death. This is no simple assassination. Why it was done and who is behind it drives the entire story. Shara, ever the planner and spy, has left clues for Sigrud at various places. Sigrud using spycraft he hasn’t used for years finds touches of the Divine around the hotel where Shara was killed. If the Divine is somehow involved Sigrud realizes that this is not just about Shara’s death but there is more likely a larger threat to the world. He knows that he must find Shara’s daughter, Tatyana, and protect her.

Bennett excels at delving into the emotional landscape of his characters. Sigrud feels deeply that he lets down those he cares about and more than anything City of Miracles is Sigrud’s emotional journey. The depth of his despair about how he has conducted his life, his feelings of self-loathing for his failure to protect those he loves and the things he has done are gut-wrenchingly palpable. Sigurd’s psyche is an uncomfortable place to be at times, but Sigrud is a decent man and a fierce protector despite what he thinks about himself. There are revelations about Sigrud that are remarkable.

As in the prior novels there is plenty of action and the fantastical and Divine. We learn more and more about this world and, if a certain Divine entity is to be believed, what historically has gone before the events of the Divine Cities Trilogy and what is likely to occur in the future. There are some wonderfully philosophical moments in City of Miracles. There are again issues regarding the tension between the Continent and Saypur but only insofar as how it drives various character's actions.

Bennett deftly weaves together threads from the prior novels to show us a world that is changing and, more important, how his characters have changed over the course of the Trilogy. Bennett finishes the series by creating something new in his world. Sigrud’s journey is breathtakingly emotional, surprising, and ultimately satisfying.

The Divine Cities Trilogy is fabulous and City of Miracles is nothing short of brilliant.

Note:  I strongly recommend you read City of Stairs and City of Blades before reading City of Miracles.


City of Stairs
The Divine Cities 1
Broadway Books, September 9, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 464 pages

An atmospheric and intrigue-filled novel of dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, protean city--from one of America's most acclaimed young SF writers.

The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world's new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov's oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country's most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov's cruel reign may not yet be over.

See my review here.

City of Blades
The Divine Cities 2
Broadway Books, January 26, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 496 pages

A triumphant return to the world of City of Stairs.

A generation ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of fearsome supernatural sentinels who killed and subjugated 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 draw her pension 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 discovery with the potential to change the world–or destroy it.

The trouble is that this old soldier isn’t sure she’s still got what it takes to be the hero.

See my Review here.


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