There are a lot of things to like. Honestly - I cannot imagine that anyone who enjoys the fantasy genre won't love this book. It is full of grit and humanity and hope. And, though there is another one coming, and I'm looking forward to it already, by golly the ending is perfectly satisfying all by itself! This could be a standalone novel - but I'm glad that it isn't.
I've heard 'City of Lies' described as sort of a 'Fantasy whodunnit', and I have to agree. That is an apt description. But it's so much more than that.
Let's start at the start, and the start of this book is perfect. 'City of Lies' gets the balance right between world building and action - the story really gets pumping as soon as it can, but not so soon that I didn't know what was going on and why. I felt as though my feet were well grounded in the world that Hawke had created before she started throwing plot curveballs at me. And that allowed me to hook into the story from very early on, without floundering.
I loved every fight scene. It might seem an odd thing to comment on, but I don't normally like fight scenes very much. However, these fight scenes have been written from the point of view of characters that *aren't fighters*, and I found the actions and reactions of the characters, particularly Jovan, just fantastic. So believable. Every fight scene was a joy to read because it wasn't just a fight scene - it was an exploration of character and an extension of the story.
The world building is subtle, but it's strength lies in its subtlety. There was not even the merest whiff of info-dumping, and yet I really felt as though I knew Silasta inside and out. I could just immerse myself in the world and forget that I was reading, and that's a sign of some great writing.
The characters are the sort that you want to root for, and that's something that's important for me as a reader. Maybe it's shallow, but I like to like the protagonists in the books I'm reading. They are faaaaar from your typical heroes, but that makes them all the more intriguing.
And, lastly, this story has done what all the best speculative fiction stories do. It's highlighted aspects of humanity and the human condition, big and small, and it's made me think, and feel, and (I hope?) grow as a person. This is why I love this genre, and why I loved this book.
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