Last year, the first book in this series, The Gilded Cage, was my favorite book of the year. In a world where all the power and wealth is held by persons with magic and those persons lacking magic were condemned to ten years of slavery, it was a throat-clutching, emotionally gripping thriller of a fantasy novel. Moreover, it challenged the reader to think about the abuse of power and enslavement.
This second book begins in despair. Luke, one of the heroes of the first novel, is imprisoned by a sadistic torturer for a crime Luke did not knowingly commit. Things do not improve. As in the real world, idealism, nobility, and courage aren’t always enough to fight cruelty, evil, and vast power. Yet, Abi, Luke, Dina, and others do not surrender. They continue to strive. They find allies. Sadly, they also see betrayal.
The novel reaches a boiling point. A savage, horrifying public execution of the rebels at the hands of a mob is staged when the author reminds us that heroes can be found in the unlikeliest persons.
This book kept me up late in the night. It was impossible to put down. Unlike The Gilded Cage, this novel reminded me of The Game of Thrones. Like the Game of Thrones, the reader becomes deeply immersed in the survival of the rebellious siblings, Abi and Luke, and their allies. Likewise, the reader keeps hoping for the punishment of evil. So far this hope has been unmet. Then there are the most complex characters, Silyen, Gavar, and the murderous Dog. Assuredly not good people, but they evoke sympathy. Also, like The Game of Thrones, nothing can be taken for granted. The author is taking the reader on a journey, and the destination is uncertain. Like The Gilded Cage, this will be one of my favorite reads of the year. I highly recommend Tarnished City.