City of Blades - Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Blades is the follow-up to a book I read last year, City of Stairs (though the cover art on that one always makes me think it's called 'City of Stars'), which I gave 4 stars to because of a couple of annoying issues I had with it - for more details, see my review, which I've linked to above. This time around, I'm pleased to say, neither of those annoyances seem to make a repeat appearance and so I'm happily giving City of Blades 5 stars.

 

Anyway, if you're not familiar with these particular books, they're based in a world where until relatively recently, the particular chunk of the world where City of Blades is set (the Continent) was ruled by a number of Divinities. Saypur, which now rules pretty much all of the world including the Continent, was a source of slave labour and generally looked down on for not having a Divinity of its own but subsequently rebelled and overthrew both the Continent's rule and the Divinities themselves.

 

One of the supporting characters from City of Stairs plays the major role in this book, as the formidable General Mulaghesh is first discovered struggling with retirement from the military and is basically blackmailed into going to the Continent - ostensibly, she's there to serve out her time and get her pension, but really she's there to investigate the disappearance of a Saypuri agent. The city where Mulaghesh ends up is going through major construction works and there's also been a recent discovery, a strange new metal ore which defies scientific explanation. Mulaghesh discovers that the woman running the construction has a lot to hide and that the agent she's trying to find seems to have been involved in something decidedly unsavoury and possibly involving the city's former Divinity.

 

As with the previous book, the world-building is excellent and this time we're dealing with the creation (and potential destruction) of an afterlife for warriors who have become literally human weapons in the service of their Divinity, as well as considerations of what it is to be a soldier. Mulaghesh is still dealing with the personal aftermath of the things she did many years earlier and not always doing it well, which makes her a poignant choice at times for a point of view character (especially when compared to her former commanding officer, who is also there in Voortyashan).

 

Anyway, in short, I liked City of Blades a lot and felt it worked much better for me than its predecessor did, so I'm looking forward to seeing what Robert Jackson Bennett has planned next. From the way this book ends, it looks like Mulaghesh is going to be a main character in future novels and I'm more than happy with that.