City of Stairs

Robert Jackson Bennett
City of Stairs Cover

City of Stairs


I have mixed feelings about this one. It doesn't seem to be quite what it could have been, but I really liked the world, and that earned it a decent score.

And what a world it is. The gods are real. Or at least, they were real. Six of them ruled over The Continent, performing miracles and basically wandering around being godlike. Then the godless, subjugated island of Saypur found a way to kill them and the tables were well and truly turned. The very fabric of reality was pretty badly damaged, leaving the city of Bulikov full of staircases that go nowhere, and the miracles that helped sustain daily life are now unreliable at best.

Saypur is the dominant power now, and when one of its academics is murdered in Bulikov, in steps Shara and her barbarian sidekick. I'd heard in an interview with the author that Shara was supposed to be modelled on John Le Carre's George Smiley, but if so she's not nearly so good at staying out of the limelight and staying out of trouble.

The book was a lot of fun, with an unusually high level of technology for a secondary-world fantasy, and a really interesting take on magic. I've given it 4/5.