Thursday, June 15, 2017

SciFi/Fantasy Book Review: The City Stained Red by Sam Sykes

Long Review After the Jump:

The City Stained Red is the start of the "Bring Down Heaven" trilogy by Sam Sykes.  The Book is set in the same universe as Sykes' Aeons' Gate Trilogy, focusing seemingly on the same set of characters, but doesn't require foreknowledge to enjoy.  That said, the book isn't stand alone - it ends on MULTIPLE cliffhangers and doesn't really conclude at all with this volume - the ending is not satisfactory on its own (to say nothing of the completely teasing epilogue).  Oh and the book does not start slow - it jumps right into these characters.  But man, these are some great characters.
-----------------------------------Plot Summary----------------------------
Lenk and his team are adventurers - they have wandered for years together doing various jobs, killing lots of people, demons and other things.  The team consists of Lenk, the leader; Denaos, thief/thug on the run from his past; Asper, a Priestess of a healing god who carries a deadly curse in her arm; Dreadaeleon, a kid who is also a powerful wizard with issues of dealing with other people; Gariath, the last dragonman of his kind, who hates humans with a passion; and Kataria, Lenk's humanoid but not human Shict lover who fears she has lost her people by being with the humans.

Lenk just wants to enter the City of Cier'Djaal, find the priest who was supposed to pay them for their last job, and use that money to put down his sword and live an honest bloodless life.  But his team doesn't quite feel like that's the right idea - some of them feeling quite strongly about it.

And the City - filled with thugs, demons, gods, and many many others who want to kill and do other horrible things - well, they don't quite agree with this plan either.
This is a dark book, there is a LOT of killing going on here.  And again, the plot does not resolve at all - the book spends each chapter cycling between the characters, and while every character does have a journey in the book, all of these journeys end in cliffhangers really.

But the characters are great and really really well done, even though there's so many of them, that it's hard to put this book down.  If there's one minor problem, it's that the book features most of the characters going in one direction and then making decisions as if they hadn't made those prior changes, but well, part of the theme of this book seems to be how all of these people are struggling and wavering in their paths.

In short, if you don't mind dark stories and are okay with starting a new trilogy, this is worth a shot just for the characters.  I've got book 2 on the way from my library, so hopefully that doesn't disappoint - the third and final book comes out this fall.  Recommended just for the great characters (and as a result of which, I may try to track down the original trilogy).

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