Thursday, April 13, 2017

Book Review - City of Stairs

Book - City of Stairs 
Writer - Robert Jackson Bennett

Series - The Divine Cities #1   
Published By - Broadway Books
 

I can hardly say anything about this book that hasn't already been said, so I will keep my review short. 'City of Stairs' is a book that I started reading with a mind that it might not reach the high expectations I was having of it based on the reviews on the internet. But I am delighted to say that it reached far beyond. This is an extraordinary tale of fantasy slash murder mystery with quite a memorable and powerful cast of characters and such fascinating world building as I have ever experienced.

I have read a lot of books, I started reading before I went to school officially, and now I am almost 30 years old. So you can have a guess about the amount I have read. Frankly, now-a-days I hardly find books that could keep my attention for long. But this one kept my attention throughout its whole length. Even through pages of just character banter or the protagonist enjoying tea and thinking things through were written so elegantly that I could hardly put it down. Another tasteful bit was the introductory text before each chapter giving further insight into Bennett's wonderful world.

The characters were the main strength, with having definite attributes and unique personalities to make them seem so real as possible. From Shara and Sigrud to even minor characters like Pitry were given the authors utmost care as to make them enjoyable to read about. Dialogue between the characters were done quite brilliantly as well, making strong use of the author's skill to build the overall plot elements. The mystery regarding the death of Professor Pangyui was a key element that was dealt with the finesse of a well done mystery novel, keeping the reader guessing as to not only the identity but also the motives behind the murder.

And then there was the world building. Layers upon layers were poured slowly divulging bits upon bits of information regarding the unique world. Bennett uses the real world as a template while incorporating fantastical elements to explore the struggle between divine entities and science in his imaginary fantasy setting. He portrays the real world racism, religious and other cultural inequity that has been the cause of so much violence in our world and blends these with his imagination to create a world whose history and people are stuff that we as readers have to feel about. There are allegory and imagery scattered all throughout with action sequences that make you want more.

All the time that I was writing about this book I was thinking of finding some flaws, something to criticize about, but I couldn't. The characters, the mystery, the history, the world, even the action (especially on the last few pages) were written about with such devotion, love and care as to make the whole experience quite flawless.

So I give this 5 out of 5 stars.    

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