Thursday, June 29, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: City of Miracles by Robert Jackson Bennett

City of Miracles is the third and final book in the Divine Cities trilogy that began with City of Stairs and continued with City of Blades.

I had difficulty finishing the first book in the series when I tried it back in 2015 but after some false stops I persevered and I'm glad that I did. It made such an impression on me that I pre-ordered copies of both the book's sequels from Amazon, and it turned out that City of Blades is probably my favorite entry in the The Divine Cities sequence.

The story and characters in City of Miracles are very closely connected to those that appeared in the first book, City of Stairs. This is a good thing because that book introduced us to two awesome characters: Shara Komayd (the niece of the Prime Minister of Saypur who has a knack for chasing down the remnants of the divine beings who used to rule the now colonized Continent) and her bodyguard, Sigrud je Harkvaldsson (a large blond giant of a man who has a curiously high tolerance for pain and a penchant for inflicting violent death around him). A third awesome character is Turyin Mulaghesh, the military commander who participated in an atrocious war crime at an early age and who later befriends Sigrud and Shara despite being introduced in City of Stairs as an ideological enemy. While Mulaghesh is essentially the main character in City of Blades, Sigrud is the key figure in City of MiraclesIn fact, the third and final book in the Divine Cities trilogy is not only centered around Sigrud but introduces Shara's adopted daughter Tatyana as another key figure.  Sigrud seeks  her out after hearing about Shara's death by assassination several years after the events depicted in City of Blades occurred.

I don't want to spoil the plot of  City of Miracles, but I do want to share the themes of the book, which on the surface are somewhat similar to the themes addressed in the other books in the Divine Cities trilogy. Namely, these include the nature of belief and worship, the singular nature of the relationship between parent and child and the perils of omnipotence and cultural appropriation. (We are dealing here with stories that revolve around the existence of gods, usually called "Divinities" in the books, as well as their  numerous offspring who are demigods.) Another central theme is how the echoes of the past can influence the present, and the future. The famous aphorism by Faulkner, "The past is never dead. It's not even past" is quite true in all three books as the effects of historical incidents and events are unearthed by Shara, as she often has to separate  obfuscation due to the passage of time from deliberate historical revision. The central role that memory and history play in the story is an authorial device that Bennett uses to deepen and strengthen the salience of the world-building he achieves in the Divine Cities trilogy. The reader really gets a sense of what these places are like and have been like by the end of the story.

City of Miracles contains a lot of action and suspense (moreso than the first two books, I think) because our heroes spend a fair amount of time being chased by very powerful creatures who clearly want to do extreme harm to them. These scenes are done very well, especially since it is the third book the reader is particularly emotionally invested in the fates of characters we have grown attached to over several hundred pages.

Overall, City of Miracles  is a strong and fitting end to a compelling fantasy trilogy which is quite original in scope, setting and story.

Title: City of Miracles (Divine Cities, #3).
Robert Jackson Bennett.
Paperback: 464 pages.
 Broadway Books.
Date Published: May 2, 2017.
Date Read: June 13, 2017.


OVERALL GRADE: A- (3.83/4.0).


No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin