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Sunday, 8 November 2009

THE DROWNING CITY


The Drowning City: home to exiles and expatriates, pirates and smugglers. And violent revolutionaries who will stop at nothing to overthrow the corrupt Imperial government.

For Isyllt Iskaldur, necromancer and spy, the brewing revolution is a chance to prove herself to her crown. All she has to do is find and finance the revolutionaries, and help topple the palaces of Symir. But she is torn between her new friends and her duties, and the longer she stays in this monsoon-drenched city, the more intrigue she uncovers - even the dead are plotting.

As the waters rise and the dams crack, Isyllt must choose between her mission and the city she came to save.

This is the first book of The Necromancer Chronicles. When this cover first caught my eye, I decided to read a little more about the story. And once I found out the main character was a necromancer, I just had to read it.

The story is set in the city of Symir and features Isyllt Iskaldur, a necromancer and spy sent on a secret mission to find and finance the revolutionaries. But as soon as she gets to Symir things start to happen. Bad things. So much that the book is told in three different points of view -- Isyllt, Zhirin and Xinai -- to get the full scope of what's going on. Zhirin is a young apprentice caught up in the revolution. Xinai is a mercenary sent to help Isyllt, but she gets caught up on the wrong side because she's a native.

I really enjoyed the exotic and often dark locale and could literally see, taste, and feel every detail because of Amanda Downum's wonderful narrative. Her voice is crisp, different for each of the women, and so vivid that I felt like I was temporarily transported to this beautiful, yet dangerous and unstable location. It sounded so lovely, yet volatile, with a live river, angry but contained volcano, and sticky jungle. The attention to detail was amazing, and the separate stories weaved in and around each other so well that when I got to the end, everything fit in and was tied together perfectly.

Of course, the destiny of Isyllt, Zhirin, and Xinai take them to different and even sad places. The three of them suffer immense heartache, physical pain, and betrayal along the way, and aren't all on the same side either. But each woman's journey was honest, raw and true. I loved this book!

There are so many things that could've gone wrong in this book -- competing narrators, confusing loyalties, intricate politics, huge idea without substance, strange names jarring the story, too much mythology involving ghosts, spirits, and water creatures... but you know what? That didn't happen. Everything made sense. Everything clicked together to form a terrific, complex story that I enjoyed so much I know I'll be thinking about it for weeks to come. It's a fantasy that breaks into a new barrier.

The Drowning City is an amazing, interesting and very well written story that blends a variety of weird and wonderful creatures. It's what a fantasy book should be: riveting, ambitious, and succesful in it's delivery and execution. The main characters are deep, and so is the supporting cast. I can't wait to read the next one.

I've been seduced by this world, and I'm looking forward to visiting again. Only this time, it'll be in a different city.

The Drowning City, September 2009, ISBN 1841498149, Orbit Paperback

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