City of Strife: (An Isandor Novel) (City of Spires Book 1) - Claudie Arseneault

I have to admit, I got this book when it was on sale and I can't remember how I came to even look at it in the first place - probably someone on Twitter, which is where most of my unexpected book recs seem to come from nowadays...

 

Anyway, other than my annoyance at the end about the massive cliffhanger we're left with and a question about how soon the next book will be out, I enjoyed City of Strife much more than I initially thought I would. It starts out relatively slowly and with a lot of different characters introduced, so there was definitely a moment where I wavered over continuing or not. 

 

The main character in the book is Arathiel, who we first meet literally dragging himself out of the river as he returns to Isandor, the city of his birth which he left over a hundred years earlier. Bad things have happened to Arathiel in the interim, as a result of which he's been seriously affected - for example, he can't feel any kind of touch so it's very easy for him to be injured without realising it, while a lack of sensation also means that he can damage himself by eating food that's way too hot. Unwilling to get in touch with his (naturally noble and well-off) family, he finds refuge in the seedier part of Isandor in a shelter run by others who have reason to keep away from the better off families of the city. 

 

Alongside Arathiel and his new-found friends, we also have the major culture clash of two societies, as the newly-powerful Myrians have come to town and seem intent on doing whatever they like. One of the noble families of Isandor takes exception to how the Myrians treat even their own and attempts to rally support to kick them out of the city, a quest that becomes personal when a member of their family disappears in suspicious circumstances. 

 

Naturally, the two storylines end up crashing together and the afore-mentioned cliffhanger turns up, much to my frustration. So, I'm glad I carried on reading City of Strife and look forward to seeing how the story continues!