Review: CITY OF STAIRS by Robert Jackson Bennett

Robert Jackson Bennett

Series: The Divine Cities #1
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Broadway Books
Pages: 452
Release date: September 9th 2014

The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions — until its divine protectors were killed. Now, Bulikov’s history has been censored and erased, its citizens subjugated. But the surreal landscape of the city itself, forever altered by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it, stands as a haunting reminder of its former supremacy.

Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country’s most accomplished spies, dispatched — along with her terrifying “secretary”, Sigrud — to solve a murder.

But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem, and that Bulikov’s cruel reign may not yet be over.

“Forgetting… is a beautiful thing.”

City of Stairs is a slow paced and action filled Fantasy novel. It has an incredibly complex world-building, developed characters, and a creative take on religion. The beginning is a little dense and it does take some time for the plot to pick up, but the story is interesting and engaging for the most part.

Robert Jackson Bennett has created a phenomenal world with this series. The care and development of the world-building is amazing and it adds so much depth to the story. The twists and reveals are all surprising and catch readers off guard. As this is told in multiple POVs, all the characters have very unique voices and are all a delight to read about.

It took me so long to finish this, oh my god. I struggled a lot with the beginning. The world-building is fascinating, but so dense and detailed that, coupled with the slow pace, make this a bit difficult to get through. Once things speed up, though? This is great!

The novel has a really unique and intriguing premise, and the execution is done extremely well. This is definitely a breath of fresh air for the genre. The religious aspect threads seamlessly with the action and overall progression of the plot. Especially with the twists nearing the end of the book.

I loved the characters! The novel is told in multiple POVs, but each and every one of them are different. I certainly had my favorites; or, really, one favorite: Sigrud and everything that he is. Each of them bring something to the story and help further the plot along.

In the end, City of Stairs is a very interesting read. It has great characters and an amazing world-building. The beginning is a bit too slow and packed, but the plot picks with with lots of action and shocking reveals. I’m curious to see where the story goes in the next installments!


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