I am absolutely thrilled with the quality of the books I've picked up so far this year! Adding to the fresh takes on fantasy that have come our way is City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett.
The book opens with the murder of historian, Efram Pangyui. Efram was sent to the city of Bulikov by the ruling government of Saypur. He was researching the history of the Divinities, the fallen gods of the Continent before the Saypuri ruled. The Divinities performed miracles of technological advancement, which made them powerful. But when the old Divinities ruled, Saypur was the one city that had no Divinity, and they were treated as slaves to the Continent. In the Great War, a Saypuri man, the Kaj, used a mysterious weapon to kill the six Divinities. With the death of each Divinity, the magic they instilled in their cities fell apart and the cities were left in ruins. What secret weapon did the Kaj use to kill the Divinities? That’s what Efram was really sent to find out.
Shara Thivani arrives in Bulikov to bring Efram’s body home. She is officially a low-level diplomat for Saypur, but unofficially Shara is a spy for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. She is well-versed in Continental history and she also happens to be the great-granddaughter of the Kaj. Efram was a friend and mentor and she is anxious to figure out why he was murdered. With Saypur now being the ruling government, the people of the Continent are no longer allowed to refer to their great history or to the Divinities, so it will take some investigating for Shara to find out what it was that Efram uncovered. She is helped along in her investigation by her “secretary’ Sigrud. Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is a huge, quiet and resourceful friend to Shara. He really operates more as Shara’s sidekick/bodyguard. As they delve further into the mysteries of Bulikov, both Sigrud and Shara witness some unexplainable happenings. Shara begins to suspect that magic is still alive in the city of Bulikov. Did the one of the Divinities make it out of the Great War alive?
City of Stairs is a rich, layered world full of mystery and adventure, vivid action sequences and magic of course! I loved it! Sigrud is my favorite character and in my opinion, there is so much of his story left to be told. The author has done an excellent job fleshing out both the world and the characters. I have a feeling that this complex world that Robert Jackson Bennett has created will hold many great surprises for us in the future and I for one, am looking forward to it!