cover image City of Songs

City of Songs

Anthony Ryan. Subterranean, $40 (160p) ISBN 978-1-64524-037-2

Ryan ingeniously combines magic and mystery in his outstanding third Seven Swords fantasy (after The Kraken’s Tooth). Series lead Guyime Mathille, a former king, is still on his quest to possess seven cursed swords in hopes of freeing himself from the malign influence of the demon inhabiting his own blade. Now the search takes him to the city of Atheria and legendary collector Ultrius Domiano Carvaro, who may own one of the swords. But upon his arrival, Guyime learns that Carvaro, one of the city’s most powerful nobles, is dead and was fatally stabbed in a sealed room. The absence of the murder weapon eliminates suicide as an explanation, leading Carvaro’s daughter and heir, Orsena, to suspect that her father was murdered by a fellow noble. She makes Guyime an irresistible offer: solve the crime in exchange for access to Carvaro’s extensive records, which may lead to one of the swords. The author makes this locked-room mystery as accessible to series newcomers as it is enthralling to established fans. With superior storytelling and prose very much in evidence, Ryan again proves that he has few peers at worldbuilding within the space constraints of a novella. (Sept.)