THE CITY STAINED RED by Sam Sykes

THE CITY STAINED RED

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A new entry in the grimdark fantasy genre begins with this follow-up to the Aeons’ Gate trilogy (The Skybound Sea, 2012, etc.).

The priest Miron Evenhands has yet to pay the swordsman Lenk and his band of adventurers for services rendered, so they track their elusive employer to Cier’Djaal, a corrupt, teeming city on the brink of civil war. As the forces of two opposing gods square off, both the wealthy fashas who rule the city and a powerful criminal guild struggle to reassert control, but all are helpless before the Khovura, an insane cult bent on resurrecting the demons. Lenk just wants his gold so he can retire, but he and his companions are unavoidably caught up in the city’s bloody chaos. And soon they discover that Miron is not whom he seemed to be. The author attempts to give his characters depth by loading them up with dark secrets, which he then hastens to reveal as quickly as possible, leaching them of their dramatic power. Sadly, the protagonists—the cynical, weary swordsman; the priestess struggling with her faith; the brash young wizard; the feral warrior woman; and the dragonman who’s the last of his kind—simply lack the emotional texture that would make them real people instead of stock fantasy figures seemingly drawn straight from a role-playing game manual. Foes pursue them, whereupon they fight, they argue, separate to their own affairs, reunite and begin the process again. There’s an attempt to create tension through Lenk’s conflicted desire to lay down his sword; but we know he won't for now, because the series wouldn’t be very interesting if he does. It’s not clear if the series will be all that interesting if he doesn't, either.

A great deal of shouting, soul-searching and swordplay adding up to nothing very much. 





Pub Date: Jan. 27th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-316-37487-3
Page count: 608pp
Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15th, 2014




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