To summarize in a sentence, this book, as well as its predecessor, are fictional manifestations of The Pedagogy of the Oppressed. What I found enlightening is that when one group is oppressed and given the opportunity to become the oppressors they are equally if not more oppressive than their previous task masters, but their methods of oppression often change. And change they did, thank heavens, because the divine oppressors that existed before this series began were over the top in physical punishment. To the point where it leaves no doubt as to why it took so long for there to be an uprising from the oppressed. I mean, if I saw someone bisected vertically I would be nervous to step out of line too.
It’s been five years since the Battle of Bulikov, and relations between Saipur and the Continent have improved, but tensions are rising and the Saipur government have decided to send General Mulaghesh to investigate the problems. Officially, Mulaghesh is a war criminal and her assignment is exile to the city of Voortyashtan until she can disappear into obscurity. Unofficially, the Prime Minister has tasked her to investigate the disappearance of a government official. But what Mulaghesh finds instead is far worse than she could have imagined. The gods may be dead, but their influence lives on and the powers that are stirring threaten to reestablish their iron-fisted rule once again.
First things first, this book was a great sequel. Sometimes the second books in a series tend to fall short of the first because they begin to dive into the more tedious histories or plots of the first book, but City of Blades filled in the holes from the last book and gave a detailed background history that brought a whole new light to why Mulaghesh is the way she is. Secondly, Sigrud was still in it; he wasn’t as kick-butt-awesome as in City of Stairs, but he remains my favorite character. In this book Sigrud is still the giant Viking berserker that he was in the first book, but now with an added dose of sass. In so many ways he added to the book and even provided some comic relief to break up the intensity.
There was really only one reason I liked the first book more: the characters and their interactions in he City of Stairs were more enjoyable. I think Shara made a better protagonist than Mulaghesh. That sounds really bad, but it isn’t. Shara was an exceptional character and it’s hard for anyone else to compete with her. That’s the problem with writing such amazing characters: anyone else created as a replacement is going to struggle to be as poplar because of comparison.
If you liked the first book, if you liked Game of Thrones, or if you don’t mind a little bit of language and intense violence, then you will probably like this book as well. In so many ways, Robert Jackson Bennett shows masterful creativity and imagination through his work. I’ve never heard about him before this series, but I’m intrigued to see what he’ll do with his future novels. Having done such a good job with this series (so far), I’m excited to see what other worlds he’s capable of creating.