City of Blades (The Divine Cities #2)
by Robert Jackson Bennett.
City of Blades picks up roughly 5 years after City of Stairs ends. It centers around the city of Voortyashtan, formerly the domain of the goddess of death and war. Shara, the main character from book 1, is a tangental character in this book. Instead, we follow General Turyin Mulaghesh, whom Shara calls out of retirement to investigate the disappearance of an agent sent to Voortyashtan. Between her own military past and events in Bulikov, Mulaghesh is none too excited about this, especially as Voortyashtan is a miserable backwater place under the command of an old Army comrade she’d rather not see again. It’s as miserable as she feared, especially when she starts being haunted by her past, literally. Following the trail of the missing agent, she’s forced to consider whether or not all of divine Voortya’s workings died with her. There is more going on in Voortyashtan than meets the eye, and Mulaghesh has landed smack in the middle of it.
This is a great follow up to book 1. It expands on the world and characters we already know, and introduces some compelling new ones. But it has a distinctly different tone from the first book, which lets it stand on its own a bit, too. It’s darker, as befitting a book touching on the goddess of death, war and destruction. Mulaghesh as a protagonist is quite a change of pace from Shara in book 1, too. She’s older, more cynical and foul-mouthed, and not at all diplomatic. She’s not as clever as Shara, but she has her own brand of luck and determination that works just as well to get the job done. And there’s still the potent blend of murder mystery, divine magic, political tangles, and apocalyptic rumblings.
If you liked City of Stairs, keep on with the series with this one. It officially comes out later this month. The ending did wrap up more satisfactorily than in book 1, but still makes it clear that a book 3 is intended, and I am looking forward to it.