Thursday, October 28, 2010

City of Dreams and Nightmare by Ian Whates

Summary (courtesy of GoodReads):  The first in a series of novels set in one of the most extraordinary fantasy settings since Gormenghast -- the vertical city of Thaiburley. From its towering palatial heights to the dregs who dwell in The City Below, it's an incredible creation. When Tom, a teenage street thief from the depths, ventures into the uppermost levels to impress a girl, the last thing he expects to do is witness a murder. Accused of the crime, he must use all of his knowledge of the ancient city to flee certain death.  

And here's what I thought:  Looking at the first sentence (below), you might think this is the story of one man and his adventures.  It is and it isn't.  He has a story, but so do 3 other characters, whose interactions and adventures are woven together as the story progresses.   This was one of those books where I would think I knew what was going to happen, and then things went in a completely different direction.  And I loved it.   There are so many layers to this book: danger, adventure, mystery.   Ian Whates is a master at weaving together intricate details and magical elements, along with a quick pace.  I could describe the story like this:  it's like one of those detailed paintings where you keep looking and looking and discovering new things, the longer you look.    Extremely detailed and fantastical.

The four main characters are well-written (although not all are completely likeable - which is okay), and become paired up as the book progresses, somewhat at odds, though linked through their situation.  I found this created an interesting dynamic, especially combined with the world Whates has created, which is level upon level, and each level being a world unto itself.  The interactions between some of the characters, not only with each other, but with others they encounter, really made the story interesting.   If you'd like a taste of one of the characers, Dewar, check this out: "Despite the circumstances, he smiled, though it was a shallow surface-skimming expression.  Beneath it a familiar emotion stirred; one that he welcomed like an old friend: rage.  Dewar's rage was not of the scorching, incandescent variety, liable to flare magnificently and die away all too quickly.  No, his formed rather an imaplacable, ice cold centre; cold enough to burn and very slow to disappear." (p. 182)  Mmmm....   see what I mean about the author's descriptive style?    

My only complaint about this book is that it left me hanging ... and waiting for the next book, City of Hope and Despair.     But my rating?  4 bottles!!

Thoughts on the cover:   Loads of rich detail, just like the story -- although I found myself sometimes studying it and wishing I could see it a bit more clearly. Definitely an invitation to read this book, and hints at the fantastical elements within.

First sentences:  "Only men of the right sort were eligible to join the Kite Guard.  Only those with families of sufficient standing and the proper pedigree were even permitted to apply.  Tylus qualified.  Just."

Where I got this book:  From Angry Robot Books, in exchange for a review.  Check them out -- they are awesome!!!


Amanda Makepeace said...

Sounds like you enjoyed it!! I can't wait for the next book too, so many questions. :D

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