City of Lies
Author: Sam Hawke
Page Count: 560
Format Read: Paperback
Keywords: Poison, Family, War
Kid Appropriate: Teens and older
This book is Sam Hawke’s debut novel and the beginning to her Poison War series. I was super excited to see this announced as the September pick for The Name of the Book. Poisoners are always fascinating and high fantasy is my favorite genre so I figured that I couldn’t go wrong with this one.
Be warned if you do pick this one up that the first two chapters are long and very slow. They are necessary for setting up the rest of the book but they dragged for sure. Once you get to the end of the second chapter/the beginning of the third the tempo picks up a little bit with some more action and strategy to snag your attention. Unfortunately, this book never reached a point where I found myself flipping through as fast as I could. If anything I ended up skimming large sections of the book simply because they were so slow.
The events that occur early on in the book and certain scenes throughout do give me similar feelings to R.F Kuang’s The Poppy War. Certainly, don’t go in expecting it to be the same but something about the writing style rings similar to me. And of course, because of the theme of poison, I am reminded in bits of Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder.
Each chapter switches perspectives between the brother, Jovan, and the sister, Kalina. While the two sound similar and are not easily distinguished from one another I do find myself preferring Kalina’s chapters. What she experiences was just more interesting to me than Jovan’s more political storyline.
Also, I was not a huge fan of the romance in this book. It felt a bit stiff and forced rather than like it was something I was hoping would happen.
Overall, I did like this book and remember my reading experience fondly. However, I do not know if I will continue on with the series as this one wrapped up nicely on its own.
If you enjoy slower reads that focus more on politics and scheming than any form of action or intense scenes of warfare, then this is actually a really good book. You will be disappointed if you go in expecting a high fantasy filled with intrigue and amazing fight scenes.
The City of Brass
Author: S. A. Chakraborty
Page Count: 544
Format Read: Kindle
Keywords: Egypt, Jin, Magic
Kid Appropriate: Teen and older
I was lucky enough to get this for $1.99 during a Kindle Daily Deal this summer. My emotions, in the beginning, were always a bit mixed with this read. I never disliked it but I was constantly left craving more from the story, feeling as if everything was just barely scratching the surface. In the end, this read blossomed with a roar of flames, promising an amazing sequel in store for this talented debut.
Character development was well done in this book, especially for the characters I considered secondary. I detested the idealistic Prince Ali for the first 60% of the story as his idealism and judgmental attitude alienated everyone around him. But as he grew closer to Nahri and saw the true potential ahead I loved the man and warrior he was growing into despite his continued naivete. I have high hopes for his continued growth and hopefully foiled assassinations in the future two books.
Nahri and Dara. Ugh, I desperately wanted an affair worthy of being written in the stars for these two! I love them and the epilogue left me some hope for them but their path forward seemed underdeveloped and needlessly difficult throughout this book. There just was not enough of them together after the first part of this book.
Beautiful world and rich lore. I hope to see it expanded moving forward. Overall, a good debut, lovable characters, and an intense epilogue promising a rich future.