A triumphant return to the world of City of Stairs.
A generation ago, the city of Voortyashtan was the stronghold of the god of war and death, the birthplace of fearsome supernatural sentinels who killed and subjugated millions.
Now, the city’s god is dead. The city itself lies in ruins. And to its new military occupiers, the once-powerful capital is a wasteland of sectarian violence and bloody uprisings.
So it makes perfect sense that General Turyin Mulaghesh— foul-mouthed hero of the battle of Bulikov, rumored war criminal, ally of an embattled Prime Minister—has been exiled there to count down the days until she can draw her pension and be forgotten.
At least, it makes the perfect cover story.
The truth is that the general has been pressed into service one last time, dispatched to investigate a discovery with the potential to change the world--or destroy it.
The trouble is that this old soldier isn't sure she's still got what it takes to be the hero.
Bennett's astonishingly good sequel to 2014's City of Stairs makes a riveting and often heartbreaking case against war. The Continent, a land that's somewhat like Russia, once colonized Saypur, a land that's somewhat like India; then the Saypuri discovered how to kill the Continental gods, and they conquered their former oppressors. Tensions between the two lands remain high. Saypuri prime minister Shara Komayd coerces retired general Turyin Mulaghesh into visiting the Continental city of Voortyashtan, where the goddess of war and death once ruled, and where a spy recently vanished. On her mission, Turyin meets Signe, the daughter of Shara's former assassin, Sigrud. She's the CTO of a company intent on revitalizing the local harbor. Turyin is also reunited with her wartime comrade Biswal, with whom she committed atrocities that still affect them decades later. Bennett continues his theme of the influence of imperialism on what appears to be a very similar world to ours (albeit one in which gods helped shape the geopolitics), seamlessly melding spycraft and mythology. Turyin, a physically and emotionally wounded warrior who both loathes battle and excels at it, serves as a fascinating character to shoulder the book's heavy burden of tragedy. This is a deep, powerful novel that's worth reading and rereading with many pauses for thought.