City of stairs A novel

Robert Jackson Bennett, 1984-

Book - 2014

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SCIENCE FICTION/Bennett Robert
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1st Floor SCIENCE FICTION/Bennett Robert Due May 31, 2022
Subjects
Genres
Spy stories
Science fiction
Published
New York : Broadway Books [2014]
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
452 pages ; 21 cm
ISBN
9780804137171
080413717X
Main Author
Robert Jackson Bennett, 1984- (-)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Bennett's previous novels (including, most recently, American Elsewhere, 2013) have established him as one of the more interesting new voices in sf/fantasy/horror. His oeuvre contains very different books, and his new one again charts a new course. Imagine an amalgam of spy thriller, murder mystery, and high-concept fantasy: Bulikov was a powerful city, wielding the (literal) power of the gods to rule the world; but now the gods are dead, and Bulikov is a shadow of its former self. When a historian, sent into the city from the outside world, is killed, a brilliant spy's search for a murderer uncovers secrets so shocking that they could change the course of history. As an exercise in world building, the book is captivating, and as a spy thriller, it succeeds remarkably well, building suspense slowly and steadily until it's time for Bennett to unleash some of the surprises he's been keeping tucked away. Highly recommendable for fans of hyperrealistic, alternate-world sf/fantasy. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Edgar and Shirley Jackson Award winner Bennett clearly writes border-crossing fiction, but this new book is being billed as purely high fantasy. Once a conquering city, Bulikov has been reduced to mere colonial outpost when Shara Divani is sent by the ruling powers to take up a modest diplomatic post. Actually, she's a top spymaster. [Page 56]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Posing as a cultural ambassador, intelligence officer Shara Komayd comes to the city of Bulikov to investigate the murder of prominent Saypuri academic Efrem Pangyui. Efrem was a controversial figure, as he was studying the history and artifacts of the Continent from before the Saypuri conquest—history that the Continentals are not themselves allowed to study or even mention. The gods of the Continent are all presumed dead but Shara senses through her investigation that some of them might not be as dead as everyone thinks. VERDICT The personalities of Shara and her hulking assistant Sigurd leap off the page, as do supporting characters such as Shara's former lover Vohannes Votrov and the gruff local Saypuri governor Mulaghesh. The world Bennett (The Troupe; American Elsewhere) has constructed is a complex political landscape of a subjugated people holding onto the memories of their glory days and protective gods and the conquerors reaping revenge for their own previous subjugation. An excellent spy story wrapped in a vivid imaginary world. [See Prepub Alert, 3/24/14.] [Page 68]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In the city of Bulikov, the gods are dead and the conquered populace forbidden from talking or writing about their past. Saypuri master spy Shara Thivani comes to Bulikov to investigate the death of a historian and discovers the city's god might not be as dead as everyone thinks. Complex politics and characters—as well a great puzzler of a mystery—make this an amazing series opener. (LJ 8/14) [Page 55]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Bennett (American Elsewhere) ventures into secondary-world fantasy in this action-packed, occasionally numinous, noir-like novel, which combines metaphysical and geopolitical observations. The city of Bulikov, once the sacred seat of a brutal, miracle-fueled empire, now stagnates under the administration of its former colony Saypur, which has become a technology-driven superpower. Exiled operative Ashara Komayd is the privileged great-granddaughter of the last Kaj of Saypur, the man who killed the Divinities, thereby both literally and politically destabilizing an entire continent. While investigating the politically inflammatory murder of a Saypuri professor who was studying Bulikov's censored history, she finds disquieting evidence that some Divinities—and their legacy—may yet survive. Bennett largely sidesteps questions of colonialism and cultural appropriation in his tightly paced mystery, but supporting characters like Ashara's indestructible aide, Sigrud, and conflicted ex-lover Vohannes Votrov flesh out the otherwise narrowly focused setting. The open ending promises a sequel. Agent: Cameron McClure, Donald Maass Literary Agency. (Sept.) [Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

Sent to a backwater colony that was once a god-supported conquering power, spymaster Shara Divani investigates the brutal murder of a historian and uncovers evidence that the city's divine protectors may still be alive. Original. 25,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Sent to a backwater colony that was once a god-supported conquering power, spymaster Shara Divani investigates the brutal murder of an historian and uncovers evidence that the city's divine protectors may still be alive.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

An atmospheric and intrigue-filled novel of dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, protean city--from one of America's most acclaimed young science fiction writers. 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 has become just another colonial outpost of the world's new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, 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 to catch a murderer. 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.