Ooooh man I have been in hype mode about this book ever since I first saw the cover back in, I think April or so? So, when I was able to snag a galley of it, I was allll over it. Cleared my schedule in order to make reading time for it.
So thanks to the author, as well as Orbit via NetGalley for the review copy!
A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy.
The city has always been. The city must finally end.
When three thieves – an orphan, a ghoul, and a cursed man – are betrayed by the master of the thieves guild, their quest for revenge uncovers dark truths about their city and exposes a dangerous conspiracy, the seeds of which were sown long before they were born. Cari is a drifter whose past and future are darker than she can know.
Rat is a Ghoul, whose people haunt the city’s underworld.
Spar is a Stone Man, subject to a terrible disease that is slowly petrifying his flesh.
Chance has brought them together, but their friendship could be all that stands in the way of total armageddon.
I just wanted to dispel any illusions you might have that I’m, I don’t know, blessed with a special wisdom or insight or anything. I can kick the tenebrous shit out of Ravellers, but the gods aren’t telling me what to do. I’m making this shit up as I go along, just like the rest of you.
This is the story of Carillon, Spar, and Rat, who are three friends who live in the pretty shadowy and dark city of Guerdon. They are each quite different from each other, but they share commonality in that they are all thieves in the city’s thieves guild, the Brotherhood. They are tasked by the guildmaster to steal something from the vault in the Tower of Law. What they don’t know is that while they are doing their job, another team is doing a much bigger and shadier job at the same time, and when one goes a bit wrong, they both go south, which leads to some epic shenanigans in the city of Guerdon.
I liked Cari as a character. She’s an orphan who was once of a very powerful and noble family that was all mysteriously murdered one day. She was raised by her aunt out in the country, and when she comes back to the city she finds herself friends with Rat and Spar.
Spar is a Stone Man, a sufferer of a plague that slowly turns the body to stone. It can be staved off with shots of a medicine known as alkahest, but there’s no cure for it, so we see Spar struggle day by day to survive.
Rat is a ghoul, a race of creatures that live under the city and eat the dead. They have a bargain with the local religion, the Keepers, that they will keep the evil things that go bump in the night under guard if they can eat the dead of the city. Some ghouls attempt living as humans do, eating surface food and trying to pass as human. Having the ability to sneak around really well gives Rat a thief’s skillset, and he uses it to his advantage.
This book was fantastically written, with great characters that I rooted for from page one. My favorite character in this book is Aleena, who is a saint (sort of like a cleric) for the Keepers, the city’s most prevalent religion. She gets her powers from the local gods, but her being the chosen of divine beings doesn’t make her less of a badass. She is snarky and foul-mouthed and everything I love in a character. <3<3<3
Unfortunately, everyone who could have fucking done something about that just got fired and replaced by a bloody psychotic walking nightlight.
Guerdon is a fascinating setting to read about. Alchemy is prevalent in the city, from bombs and the mysterious alkahest to the Tallowmen – men and women that have been turned into literal walking candles, who serve as more or less the city watch… if the city watch were insane and rather stabby people made of wax. There are subways and trains and things. In a way, the atmosphere of the city brought to mind Mieville’s city of New Crobuzon. A grubby-feeling secondary world with industrial revolution era technology. I really enjoyed the vibe.
This book has a fascinating setting, awesome and unique characters, and a really original and well executed idea. There were twists and turns and all kinds of interesting stuff happened. It kept me reading until well into the wee hours every night. I can’t wait to see where this story goes in the future, but I imagine that it’s going to be pretty spectacular! 5/5 stars!!!