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4.5 out of 5
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  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    Completely deserving of the buzz

    I was late to the party, but What. A. Party. Magnificent worldbuilding - societies, mythologies, and more. Great geo-politics, sharply drawn characters, and an explosive finale. Looking back from 2024 or 2030, I think we'll point to City of Stairs as one of the novels that changed the course of how the literature of the fantastic (specifically in the epic fantasy mode) is thought about and the ways it is deployed. Also, SIGRUD. What a character. Viking Giant Ninja Conan.
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    A real page turner!

    I really enjoyed this book overall. I decided to read this book because I have seen so many glowing reviews for it. Since everyone seemed to think that this is a great book and I like great books, I grabbed a copy and jumped in. I will say that it took me a while to really get into this book. I think that I just really needed to get a good feel for the world and the characters before everything clicked for me. By the end of the book, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. The world that this book was set in was so well done. Bulikov is a city that was once ruled by divine powers until they were all killed. It is now illegal to even talk about these Gods anymore. They are not allowed to study or know their culture's history. The city is ruled by the Saypur and there is a lot of ill feelings towards the ruling class and their rules. Shara was such an interesting character. She is smart and not afraid to take action. She tries to follow the orders of her superiors but will go against them if she believes it is necessary. As much as I liked Shara, I loved Sigrud even more. He was my favorite character in this book. He seemed to do the impossible with ease and it was just a lot of fun to watch. Mulaghesh was great. She was tough and very competent. Mulaghesh and Shara worked well as a team and I really liked how they were able to depend on each other. Vo kept me guessing. I liked him even when I wasn't sure if I should. This book was filled with wonderful characters whose personalities really shined. I would recommend this book to fantasy fans. It is a smartly written story that really keeps you guessing. There was enough action to really keep the story moving. The world building was fantastic and highly imaginative. I plan to continue with this series very soon.
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    Unique, Engaging, and Surprising

    I've never read a book like this one. An alternate world with rich history, memorable characters, constant surprises and twists, and some of the creepiest monsters I've ever read in my life. Usually I'm not much for the spy/thriller genre, but this one hooked me with its slow burn that led to a thrilling ending and some epic mythology. I really enjoyed it by the end. The story was complex and detailed, following a cast of strong, willful characters. Shara is a great leading lady with an unstoppable determination to do the right thing, except that the right thing is much more complicated than she realizes. Sigurd was also my favourite, as I'm sure he is for many readers. The guy is intimidating, yes, but he's also got plenty of layers to his personality. The monsters, as mentioned were the stuff of Lovecraftian nightmares, and one in particular will haunt me and never let me look at a duck the same way again. The ending was absolutely epic and makes me eager for the next book. There was so much going on, and I couldn't have had a better time reading it. Definitely one to check for fantasy and spy/thriller fans!
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