Book Review: Cities And Thrones by Carrie Patel
Genre: Gaslamp, Post-Apocalyptic
Series: Book 2 of the Recoletta Series
Publisher: Angry Robot (July 7, 2015)
Author Information: Website | Twitter
Tiara’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
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Full Disclosure: A review copy of this book was provided to me by Angry Robot via Netgalley. I would like to thank the author, the publisher, and Netgalley for providing me this opportunity. All opinions expressed from here forward are my own.
The Buried Life took us to the world of Recoletta, an underground city that has existed for many years after an event known only as the Cataclysm caused people to seek refuge underground. However, Recoletta is not some dingy, dark place. The atmosphere of the city is created with colorful gaslamps and there are skylights that allow sunshine in. The people living underground don’t see the surface world as a desirable place to live, even though they get sunlight and much of their resources from the surface. There are surface dwellers, though. The only group encountered in the The Buried Life made me think they all must be happy hippies living in communes. That couldn’t be further from the truth. After reading this book, I learned the surface dwellers live normal lives in towns, and they find the underground dwellers just as fascinating as the underground dwellers find them. However, there is more of a marked easiness between most surface dwellers. Underground life was filled with trite tête-à-tête that often felt like verbal sparring. Surface dwellers are easygoing and more open with much of their information unlike the guarded underground dwellers.
Cities and Thrones plays out less like a whodunit and more like a political intrigue piece. For that reason, this has a more linear storytelling style than The Buried Life. While that can be a good thing, I do like stories that take me on a rollercoaster more than stories that are just trying to get me from point A to point B, but there are a few surprises. The focal point of this story revolves around a hidden library that contains information that the warring parties either think will bring great power or must be destroyed for the power it could bring. Since the Cataclysm, books about the world before the apocalyptic event are closely guarded or destroyed to keep past mistakes from being repeated. As I said in my review of The Buried Life, the Cataclysm serves as some vague fear in the back of people’s minds to keep them under control, to make them agree that destroying and hiding knowledge is the best thing for all humanity. Now, there’s this new threat of a hidden library that everyone wants to get their hands on for good or evil.
I was glad to get more of an idea of Recoletta as a city. In my last review, I complained that Patel had this fascinating world that she spent so little time on. It could’ve been my backyard for all the information I got about it. This time around she gives us more to work with. We learn how Recoletta came to be and are able to make connections to the modern world as we know it. Patel also presents us with this beaten down Recoletta that is trying to forge itself into something new after the dramatic events that ended the last book. At the same time, we’re introduced to new cities and players that wear even more on an already stressed Recoletta who can no longer afford to politic as they once did. This story has opened up, feeling less cloistered and more focused on a story that encompasses a broader range of events. However, the world can still come off a bit empty, but I’m still appreciative that she tried to give us a little more about the surroundings.
Many of the key players from the last book have returned, but one character in particular I’d like to praise this time–Jane Lin. In the last book, I never really reconciled her character to the story, even though Patel did her best to make her involvement mean something. I liked Jane, but Jane seemed unnecessary for much of the book. After reading this, I understand that Jane represents that part of society that is overlooked, ignored, invisible, that part of society that can easily amass information because they’re not deemed important or a threat. I understood that in the last book, too, but this time around her involvement felt organic. I appreciated her character and her junior Nancy Drew skills much better in this story. She meshed well this time around. Another character who made a bit of a change is Liesl Malone. For sure, she’s still that tough-as-nails officer we first met, but she’s finding herself mired even more in politics during this state of unrest, and politics are not her strong point. It was interesting to see her try to navigate her new circumstances. At times, she seemed defeated, but despite it all, she loves Recoletta and she’s willing to do what she has to in order to bring order back to her city.
Again, I have found Patel’s writing quite fascinating. I didn’t find the beginning as slow as the previous book, but there is a significant amount of build-up. However, since it follows straight on the heels of the last book, this build-up isn’t without its merits. One of the things I’m finding that I like about these books is that the endings seem Pyrrhic at best and they end with the possibility of anything being able to happen in subsequent books. While there’s still much that can be improved in Patel’s writing, she has me invested enough to continue reading this series.
Eh, maybe. I am too tired to think
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For some reason, this series has had little appeal for me.
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I really started reading it on a whim after I requested the second book for whatever reason, so I went back and read the first one and then this one. I wouldn’t say this is normally something I’d read, but I’ll give anything a try.
Great review and agree with your take on Jane in the first book and completely agree she did better on description of the world in this book. I felt like I didn’t get enough description of Recoletta in the first one either