ARC provided by Tor Books through Netgalley
Caeli-Amur, an ancient city, a relic of a golden age long since past where pieces of broken technology are trinkets that adorn cramped houses.
It's a place where minotaurs exist alongside philosopher-assassins, a place abandoned by the gods and left broken. Its sister city, Caeli-Enas sunk deep within the ocean and can be seen glimmering beneath the waves, its streets of white marble inhabited by monstrous serpents. A place ruled by three Houses and kept in order by the Elo-Talern, thin and spindly creatures of bone and death.
In a socio-political climate reminiscent of the Spring of Nations, these autocratic Houses attempt to subdue the discontent workers fuelled by the seditionists.
The story is told through three points of view:
• Kata, a philosopher-assassin who grew up in the streets after her mother's death. She was hired to kill two minotaurs and then to spy on the seditionists.
• Boris Autec, a former tram worker, now a subofficiate of House Technis. He is addicted to Anlusian hotwine, which he uses to quell his grief for his lost wife.
• Maximilian, a seditionist who wants to use thaumaturgy to gain power for the movement.
I must admit, though it started off wonderfully packed with action, I lost interest fairly early on in the book (about 14% in), but kept reading since I could find nothing actually bad in the book. The story just couldn't keep me interested, though it had all the elements to do so: an assassin, mythological creatures, a steampunk/epic fantasy setting built on the ruins of a golden age long past, revolution in the air.
At times I really felt like this book needed a glossary, the worldbuilding is absolutely superb, but everything else seems somewhat vague. I needed more time invested in the characters' and their relationships so I could connect with them, flawed though they may be.
I appreciate that, this being a trilogy, most of this will be addressed in the following books - but without striking that balance between worldbuilding/characters/plot I was left with little desire to learn what will happen in the next books.
This is my personal opinion - you need only read the other reviews to see that what didn't work for me was just what worked for other readers. So, please, do give this book a chance - there is much in it to like, and what I personally disliked, other readers may not.
Rjurik Davidson's blog
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