An atmospheric and intrigue-filled novel of dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, protean city--from one of America's most acclaimed young fantasy writers.
The city of Bulikov once wielded the powers of the gods to conquer the world, enslaving and brutalizing millions—until its divine protectors were killed. Now Bulikov has become just another colonial outpost of the world's new geopolitical power, but the surreal landscape of the city itself—first shaped, now shattered, by the thousands of miracles its guardians once worked upon it—stands as a constant, haunting reminder of its former supremacy.
Into this broken city steps Shara Thivani. Officially, the unassuming young woman is just another junior diplomat sent by Bulikov's oppressors. Unofficially, she is one of her country's most accomplished spies, dispatched to catch a murderer. But as Shara pursues the killer, she starts to suspect that the beings who ruled this terrible place may not be as dead as they seem—and that Bulikov's cruel reign may not yet be over.
Bennett (American Elsewhere) ventures into secondary-world fantasy in this action-packed, occasionally numinous, noir-like novel, which combines metaphysical and geopolitical observations. The city of Bulikov, once the sacred seat of a brutal, miracle-fueled empire, now stagnates under the administration of its former colony Saypur, which has become a technology-driven superpower. Exiled operative Ashara Komayd is the privileged great-granddaughter of the last Kaj of Saypur, the man who killed the Divinities, thereby both literally and politically destabilizing an entire continent. While investigating the politically inflammatory murder of a Saypuri professor who was studying Bulikov's censored history, she finds disquieting evidence that some Divinities and their legacy may yet survive. Bennett largely sidesteps questions of colonialism and cultural appropriation in his tightly paced mystery, but supporting characters like Ashara's indestructible aide, Sigrud, and conflicted ex-lover Vohannes Votrov flesh out the otherwise narrowly focused setting. The open ending promises a sequel.
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Highly inventive and satisfying science fiction that dips a toe into fantasy but stays grounded.
Great characterization, world building and political intrigue. One of the most unique magic systems I've seen in a long time. Gave myself a headache reading so long.
Inventive, engrossing and great characters