cover image City of Blades

City of Blades

Robert Jackson Bennett. Broadway, $15 trade paper (496p) ISBN 978-0-553-41971-9

Bennett’s astonishingly good sequel to 2014’s City of Stairs makes a riveting and often heartbreaking case against war. The Continent, a land that’s somewhat like Russia, once colonized Saypur, a land that’s somewhat like India; then the Saypuri discovered how to kill the Continental gods, and they conquered their former oppressors. Tensions between the two lands remain high. Saypuri prime minister Shara Komayd coerces retired general Turyin Mulaghesh into visiting the Continental city of Voortyashtan, where the goddess of war and death once ruled, and where a spy recently vanished. On her mission, Turyin meets Signe, the daughter of Shara’s former assassin, Sigrud. She’s the CTO of a company intent on revitalizing the local harbor. Turyin is also reunited with her wartime comrade Biswal, with whom she committed atrocities that still affect them decades later. Bennett continues his theme of the influence of imperialism on what appears to be a very similar world to ours (albeit one in which gods helped shape the geopolitics), seamlessly melding spycraft and mythology. Turyin, a physically and emotionally wounded warrior who both loathes battle and excels at it, serves as a fascinating character to shoulder the book’s heavy burden of tragedy. This is a deep, powerful novel that’s worth reading and rereading with many pauses for thought. Agent: Cameron McClure, Donald Maass Literary Agency. (Feb.)