The second book in the wonderful fantasy series Divine Cities.
Publication year: 2016
Page count: 442
Publisher: Jo Fletcher books
The story starts about five years after the ending of the previous book, City of Stairs. Colonel Turyin Mulaghesh who was the polis governor of Bulikov has been promoted to general and joined the Saypuri Military Council. But recently she has retired to chase her dream of living beside the sea and enjoying life. Sadly, that dream hasn’t come true. She lives by the sea but in a hovel and has to chase local bandits off her property. She also has flashbacks to the Battle of Bulikov. When an old associate comes to her bearing a letter from the current Saypuri Prime Minister, Mulaghesh is at first annoyed. However, she agrees reluctantly to become the Prime Minister’s spy.
The PM’s previous investigator Choudhry has disappeared and it’s Mulaghesh’s job to go to the city where she vanished and find out what happens to her. Also, the Saypuri have discovered a metal in that same city that not only conducts electricity 100% but it also seems to augment the electricity. This shouldn’t be possible and the PM is concerned that something Divine is behind it. What really irritates Mulaghesh is where she’s going: Voortyashtan which is the “ass-end of the universe, armpit of the world” as she calls it. Voortyashtan was built by the sea but the port is currently extremely dangerous to use because of debris from the time when the Continent’s gods vanished (in the event called the Blink). The city was also the capital of Voortya, goddess of war, death, and destruction. She was the first divinity killed and none of her miracles work. But her followers, her sentinels, were hated by the Saypuri and they don’t treat the remaining people at all nicely. In fact, beside Voortyashtan is the Fort Thinadeshi which has guns trained on the city all the time. And the weather is miserable.
Mulaghesh is tortured by her past and she can’t escape it here because the fort’s commander is also her old commander. Mulaghesh finds out that the disappeared woman had started to act strangely and was considered insane by some. She comes into the middle of a politically hot situation: the invading Saypuris are constantly harassed by the locals whom the Saypuri’s hate. Also, northern Draylings have been hired to clear and rebuild the harbor. Both Saypuris and the locals cautiously trust them, as long as they don’t do anything weird.
City of Blades continues in the wonderful footsteps of the previous book: an investigation in a new city. Many of the elements which made the previous book great are here, too. I through enjoyed Mulaghesh as the main character and her journey in this book is more personal than Shara’s in the previous book. Mulaghesh is a career soldier and over fifty. She smokes cigarillos, drinks, and curses a lot. She has a tortured past and yet she has uncompromising principles.
However, this is a grimmer book than the first one; there’s little hope of complete victory, just keeping to your ideals while the world goes to hell. The theme of the book centers on war and soldiers. It also contains some gruesome violence. I’m also not sure if I agree with the ending for even though it was rather impressive.
We also get to know some more about the history of Saypur, how it rose after the gods were killed and about the horrible way the Continentals kept the Saypuri slaves before the gods were killed.
Great, wonderful continuation of the series!