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City of Stairs (2014)

by Robert Jackson Bennett

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Divine Cities (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,5901348,981 (4.18)155
"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."-- From back cover.… (more)
Recently added bymirieh, private library, kristiederuiter, DWLDE, isadil, SuzanneMcInnes, eroga, profpenguin
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    Euryale: Another immersive, secondary-world urban setting.
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» See also 155 mentions

English (131)  Dutch (2)  All languages (133)
Showing 1-5 of 131 (next | show all)
Hah, now I know why people were comparing this to the Craft Sequence. Both are post-theistic worlds!

This was really cool. A bit of a slow chug to get established and introduce the concept, but by 50% I was both hooked and had largely correct theories on most of the mysteries. So it makes you feel smart, just like the characters (even if the hints are perhaps a bit more heavy-handed than a traditional mystery).

Whatever, I liked it, it was great fun. ( )
  Tikimoof | Feb 17, 2022 |
This... was not a bad book. It was entertaining and fun, it was readable and recommendable, a book to read to pass time.

It wasnt an excellent book, it was highly predictable, if you where paying attention, something you could easily do because the book traps you inside the story and you do pay attention to all little details, but took away the surprise when you get to the point where the "mysteries" resolve. The book also had a problem where it was too cinematic, and by this i mean, you feel like you are watching the story, from away the story, its not up until the very last passage of the very last chapter that I really feel an emotional connection to the characters, and by that the book gets a high boost, because it leaves you with a fond hug, like an old friend you part away, I liked that a lot.

The book itself is about dead gods and political intrigue, but mostly about self discovery and building one own.

I very much expect to read the next installment on this series. ( )
  GridCube | Jan 17, 2022 |
I went into City of Stairs completely blind. I'm not sure what I was expecting but it wasn't a spy thriller/mystery set in one a highly imaginative fantasy interpretation of what seems to be late 19th century India and Russia.

Welcome to Bulikov! Once home to gods and their miracles, the now-conquered city is a shade of its former self with its citizens subjugated and its history suppressed. Officially, Cultural Ambassador Shara Komayd has been sent to the city to investigate a murder. Unofficially? Shara has her work cut out for her to figure it all out.

The story is a slow burn. Bennett takes his time setting the stage and introducing us to his characters. Each step along the way is revealed slowly and deliberately as we gradually learn that there is a lot more going on in the city than first meets the eye. The story eventually gains momentum and it turns into one long roller coaster ride with a few unexpected twists and drops in the second half.

What impressed me with the setting is how much history and age the author was able to give to Bulikov. As I wandered the city with Shara and her, ah, secretary Sigurd, it feels like I'm wandering the streets of a city that's been around for hundreds of years.

I liked the main character, Shara, and her secretary immensely. Shara and Sigurd make for an odd pair that work together fabulously. Shara is highly intelligent and plays the spy game as a master. Sigurd is a bit of an enigma with an interesting skill set and I hope we learn more about his character in the rest of the trilogy.

This story could be read as stand alone as all major plot points are tied up by the end. I like these characters and this world enough that I'm looking forward to finding out what is in store for Shara next. ( )
  Narilka | Jan 16, 2022 |
Well, that was quite a journey. ( )
  JessicaReadsThings | Dec 2, 2021 |
Excellent! Seemingly starts slow, but takes off and pulls you in. ( )
  jimgosailing | Nov 18, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 131 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Robert Jackson Bennettprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brand, ChristopherCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dong, LaurenDesignersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weber, SamCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Ashlee
who helps me believe in a better tomorrow
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"I believe the question, then," says Vasily Yaroslav, "is one of intent."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

"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."-- From back cover.

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Book description
You've got to be careful when you're chasing a murderer through Bulikov, for the world is not as it should be in that city. When the gods were destroyed and all worship of them banned by the Polis, reality folded; now stairs lead to nowhere, alleyways have become portals to the past, and criminals disappear into thin air.

The murder of Dr Efrem Pangyui, the Polis diplomat researching the Continent's past, has begun something and now whispers of an uprising flutter out from invisible corners. Only one woman may be willing to pursue the truth - but it is likely to cost her everything.
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