The Unlikeliest Hero: The Story of Desmond T. Doss jHer relationship with Kiril still doesn t entirely make sense to me and I don t feel like I can root for her to actually get what she wants in that regard He s older than her and they probably shouldn t have been in a relationship at all Still there s something to be said also for her perspective that it s her decision and he shouldn t shelter her from the conseuences of it People do that with women real and fictional far too oftenZhivrin is less appealing as a character but her arc works well and her ending has a perfect bittersweetness I love how it s foreshadowed as well Xinai well I feel like she or less got what was coming to her I can sympathise to some extent with anger at imperialism and the damage it can do but I don t understand fighting back against that at any cost Particularly not when the cost is your own peopleBoth times I ve read this book I ve finished it in almost one sitting so that s something else to be said for it But now onwardsOriginally reviewed for The Bibliophibian Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths The Drowning City by Amanda Downing is an ambitious book with a penchant for compelling prose and a gray characters centered in a beautifully rendered city with a Southeast Asian flavor While it did not fully realize its potential I must give credit to the author for aiming high and nearly reaching her lofty goalsSymir The Drowning City A trading metropolis filled with pirates revolutionaries and spies constantly in fear of being washed away by the mighty Mir River or destroyed by the lurking volcano nearby Only magically wards holding back certain annihilation The dearly bought peace allowing revolutionary fever to seethe to the surface threatening to blow the city apartWhen Isyllt Iskaldur and her two bodyguards Adam and Xinai sail into the grand harbor they know that the city is a ticking time bomb In fact that is why they have come for the Assari Empire s covetous eyes have been wandering toward her northern neighbors and only internal problems will stop the Empire s inevitable invasion And Isyllt master necromancer and spy intends to fan the flames of unrest untilust such an event rips Symir apartOnce settled Isyllt s local contact with the rebels uickly becomes an idealistic youth named Zhirin This young woman having been caught up in the revolutionary spirits of the city by her relationship with a youn I can t read this It sounded great so great I spent wasted one of my precious 2011 book buying slots on it don t ask Or do if you want a long explanation The setting is interesting seems like there is a political intrigue plot and the tone of the story overall reminded me a bit of early Flewelling All of these are good things for me But the writing was driving me mad till I finally decided to ust uit and go read something elseProbably it s me not the author lots of people seem to have been able to process the writing on this book Me I ust had to reread paragraph after paragraph to make sure who a pronoun refers to or if the strange made up word is one that already has been referred to or is a place in the map or what on earth it means It was almost a chore to read this since I had to make a conscious concerted effort to try to understand the foreign words with little pay off for that effort Examples Short erky sentence structure Like this But worse Sentences without verbs Erratic pronouns Or non existent ones Sometimes you do not know who the pronouns in sentences are if it is the character we started the paragraph with and who is the PoV for the scene or if it is somebody else mentioned in paragraph I think sometimes it s one sometimes the other Particles also sometimes elided And now Rahal al Seth sat the Lion Throne Uh Sentences which ust seem clumsy to me things like Ward posts lined the road simple charms
keep predators away something else a SPELL TO HOLD THE STONES STEADY to hold the stones steady the earth shook Or things like Whatever native families had lived there were long gone I do not think the native families were indeterminate or in infinite number Whatever anyway Personal pet peeve it might very well be Prisoner of Midnight just me some repetitiveness in the first lines of chapters Chapter 2 Isyllt and Adam crossed chapter 3 Isyllt and Adam found chapter 4 Isyllt woke chapter 6 Isyllt and Adam returned Later it changes to consistently Zirhin something hopefully Zirhin develops a brain in the later parts of the series I had some problem with the plot in bits of Zirhin s PoV I made my way through And last but not least the total overdose of made up words and concepts with very little contextual information to allow us to remember what is the meaning or to keep track of what Sivahara Selafa n or meliket refer toSo a few chapters and I do not care to keep reading There is a story here almost surely but the way that story is being toldust put me off Next Again I wish Goodreads had a slightly granular rating system because this novel is a very solid 35Amanada Downum s debut is of everything than I was honestly expecting strongly executed vividly described willing to blow anything and everything sky high in a startling climax Not many first time novelists are willing to smash an intricate setting but Downum fuses confidence with unpredictability and goes for the gusto in her last act The Drowning City is an intriguing blend of espionage murder mystery culture clash and colonial criticism Some of the moral argument loses its tension when one of the story s factions drops all pretense of restraint and goes on a kill crazy rampage but as far as first novel problems go that s a mild blemish This is a brisk well calculated and atmospheric novel I wish I d read it sooner Isyllt Iskaldur Necromancer and not to put too fine a point on it spy sent to the city of Symir with a couple of bodyguards to stir up trouble and incite the locals to rebellion against the rival government that rules the area Because that always works out so well Naturally complications ensue There are wheels within wheels factions within factions ghosts rebel and otherwise and all manner ofTo Keep Predators Away
UNEXPECTED CHALLENGESTHIS WAS ONE I VEchallengesThis was one I ve my eye on for a while I m glad I finally took the plunge I m also glad that I waited long enough that after finishing the first book I could ump straight to the second and then the third The characters are interesting complex and often conflicted the setting has a distinctly Southeast Asian feel that s well conveyed by carefully chosen details and the magic although present is never without cost. And the longer she stays in this monsoon drenched city the 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 sav. .
Well it started okay this review will be rather short and lame because honestly the good parts of the novel were fairly short and the rest was rather lame the first third starts out well and i was willing to suspend any criticism of the surprisingly weepy protagonist because the atmosphere was wonderfully evoked and the protagonist s profession a necromancer who is also a rebellion fomenting spy is fascinating The Drowning I forgot exactly how I first came across The Drowning City by Amanda Downum but I m sure it was from browsing online rather than in a brick mortar bookstore I might have been checking out Orbit s the publisher website Either way the cover art was attractive and what immediately grabbed me was that it promised an Eastern setting No offense to the 90% of fantasy that isn t of the urban subgenre but I tire of stories taking place in medieval Europe no offense to Europe either The prospect of something different shot this book up to the top of my list The fact that it was a debut novel didn t deter me With the string of pretty decent debuts fantasy fiction has been getting lately I actually ump at themSettingAs mentioned the setting isn t the standard fantasy backdrop It feels very South Asian in all respects landscape clothing food names of places people and even greetings What I enjoyed most about the setting was that it really came alive there was a good deal of personification used to describe aspects of the environment There were always vivid enough descriptions of the environment to maintain the cultural feel and a good general sense of place and time And the author did this without slowing down the pace So I d say all bases were covered as far as setting is concernedMagic SystemAfter Brandon Sanderson s Mistborn spoiled me I ve been picky about magic systems Anything that doesn t seem original enough or doesn t have logical rules turns me off So I wasn t too excited about the fact that certain tropes like necromancers ghosts etc were used However the execution of these things was nicely doneThe author never got into the science of how things worked like Sanderson does and the range of what is possible in the magic system was wider than I would have preferred but it wasn t as loose or underdeveloped as some fantasy I ve read I suppose one could say it was closer to the way superhero abilities work where characters specialize in a singular realm of abilities rather than the Gandalf anything goes type of magicCharacters The characters were pretty dynamic They spoke differently acted in different ways felt differently about issues disagreed with one another lied to each other Each of the viewpoint characters was likable and I could understand their decisions even when I disagreed with them The latter part applies to non viewpoint characters as well There were some who were dislikable but still understandableWhat I found in this novel were antagonists rather than villains What I mean is there is no character that I really hated or was annoyed with ie no conventional madman villain who kills arbitrarily However I would have liked to have had a character that I was really afraid of That to me makes a good villain I suppose the trade off for the author of offering both sides to a conflict and making disparate viewpoints understandable or relatable is a reduction in the antagonists intimidation factorOn another note from what I can remember all if not ust the major viewpoint characters were female Each voice was distinct and the major viewpoint characters were female Each voice was distinct and ourney intriguing but I d like to see the author delve into male viewpoint character writing in a subseuent novel Not that the story suffered from a lack of it ust for my own curiosity of the author s courage and skill and my preference for mixed viewpoints This story was written well enough that I think she could do it Amanda Downum may have written short stories with male viewpoints but I don t venture into
format very often be honestPlot ConflictAs mentioned before no conventional villain nor a conventional Tolkienesue setting This plot was a recipe for originality Sure stirring up a revolution to fight the power has been done before but these days originality is really ust a measure of how much the market is saturated with a thing Another measure is how predictable the plot points are and this one had me anticipating yet still guessing the whole way You can read the back cover for the premiseThe story looks to be divided into three acts each of which contain plenty of drama The beginning wasn t as slow as some fantasy I ve read I d say things got 6 1/2 Body Parts (Body Movers, jumping fairly early The pacing was steady didn t stagnate and didn t overwhelm either Plots were weaved well when paths collided it didn t feel tossed in out of nowhereTension built from the very beginning and continued ebbing and flowing throughout The characters were definitely challenged with a decent balance of internal and external conflicts The story didn t follow the recent trend of characters being horrifically tortured and gutted and the like but the main characters including the protagonist do not escape unscathed And I do mean permanent conseuential damage notust a flesh wound here and thereThe climax was action packed There was no cliffhanger or major loose thread at the end This novel felt complete and satisfying with a general sense that there would be to come later in the characters livesRomance I say this all the time usually when two characters meet for the first time in a story I don t find it believable that they fall deeply in love by the end This author may be of the same frame of mind There are a few relationships already established at the outset and the new ones that form aren t sappy They are complex and love is not easy for the characters It suits my taste but I can see how some readers may find the romance lacking I imagine it would be due to personal taste or from being used to lovebirds pining over each other being the driving engine of a story Alas it is not so in this storyProse On a scale of conversational to poetic I d say the prose was poetic but not overwhelming or pretentious I found myself rereading things because it s not my favorite style but I got through it well enough that I didn t feel it was a chore So I d say that is an accomplishment The thing that slowed me down was the cultural or theme specific vocabulary which may ust be ignorance on my part I didn t mind learning new wordsGripes The first 34 or so pages were a bit tough for me to get through There. Symir the Drowning City home to exiles and expatriates pirates and smugglers And violent revolutionaries who will stop at nothing to overthrow the corrupt Imperial governmentFor Isyllt Iskaldur necromancer and spy. Were dozens of new words including names of characters places and cultural or magical concepts to memorize and distinguish The author skillfully used context to show the reader rather than tell what these new words meant I appreciated the lack of info dumping to explain the world and who everyone was but I would have preferred these things to be served up in manageable portions It s not so much the foreign words as these are common in fantasy it s that there were so many in such a short amount of timeThere wasn t an appendix in the back of the book nor on the author s website that I could find so I ust opened up a word document and typed up my own notes on the words and characters After that it was smooth sailing for me This however might not be an issue for a lot of fantasy readers who are used to keeping track of these things mentallyMy only other gripe was the occasional dialogue hiccup for which I ll provide an examplePage 127 128Kiril smiled spiderweb wrinkles deepening around his eyes Maybe later An old argument a oke by now Isyllt swallowed But how are you How goes the trip I ve spoken to the people I needed to and made arrangements endFirst of all the wrinkles around Kiril s eyes emphasizing the sincerity of his smile was a great image and the book was full of descriptions like that After that though I knew it was Kiril speaking the next words but having Isyllt s reaction in the same paragraph made my brain switch to thinking she spoke the words that followed even though it was still Kiril s paragraphSo I suppose that glitch is my own fault but it would have been a much easier read if it had been written like thisKiril smiled spiderweb wrinkles deepening around his eyes Maybe later An old argument a oke by nowIsyllt swallowed But how are you How goes the trip I ve spoken to the people I needed to and made arrangements endUsually a writer is taught to use a separate paragraph when a new person speaks which is correct but I prefer it when a separate paragraph is used for any type of response not The Sun Shines Over the Sanggan River just dialogue Though for all I know it could have been the copy editors or someone else who arranged the sentences that way to save space in the printing I only mention it because it felt like it happened often enough to make me reread dialogue on occasion There were also times when two consecutive paragraphs were the same person speaking which confused me as wellOther than these two complaints which are probablyust brain farts on my behalf the novel was pretty solid And two hiccups is actually pretty impressive for a debut in my opinionOverall Reading Experience What can I say I enjoyed it It was rather good even without taking any debut sympathy points into account However bare in mind my bias attraction to Eastern fantasy I do plan on reading the next book in the series when it becomes available and this volume was enough of a good read that I wouldn t mind going through it again before reading the seuel Solid 45 starsDisclaimer I m a pretty tough criticpicky reader My posted reviews doesn t nearly cover all the books I ve read There are a good number of books I won t review publicly because I have too many complaints about them So I essentially only post reviews of books I really like and even then only when I actually get around to writing one I would say 3 12 stars and the reason I am Being Generous This Was generous this was writers first novel There was definitely room for improvement My biggest complain was the lack of a glossary so I found myself a bit twisted around by the names and words she used in her story If you are going to create a world with as much culture as she did WRITE A GLOSSARY Seriously It was frustratingI like the main characters because she doesn t sit around feeling sorry for herself however I felt that there could be about her I think that she created too many ch Pre RBRS 12This is aThat Format Very Often
Serviceable Fantasy There Was Nothingfantasy There was nothing can point to that was awful or wrong but it was THIEME Atlas of Anatomy: Head and Neuroanatomy justplain If I d read it a few years back I probably would ve liked it uite a bit I must not wild about multi volume epics ust because they re multi volume epics anyThe author renames cultures for her world mostly Filipinos and Egyptians but there were also Romans and I think Russians maybe that one popped up in the 2nd book I can t remember the new names so I ll use the old ones A
"Roman necromancer comes to the Egyptian conuered Filipino empire in order to stir up rebellion See the Romans "necromancer comes to the Egyptian conuered Filipino empire in order to stir up rebellion See the Romans indications of the Egyptians continuing empire building turning towards them and thought to pre emtively halt these expansionist Two things make this book for me 1 interesting worldbuilding and 2 oh my god the female characters They re everywhere Doing everything With like complexity And depth And differing motivationsIn fact I think this book fails the reverse Bechdel test I don t think there are two male characters who have conversations about anything other than the women in this book and I find the change so unexpected and delightful I m beside myself Extra bonus of all the women but one who is the mainest of the three or so main characters but omg not the only woman being non white There s pretty clear parallels here Europeans East Asians Arabs and some of the broad sweeping racial generalizations constructed by the plot of this book Arabs are the oppressing empire the Asians are oppressed downtrodden and vicious Europeans are the outsiderspotential saviors skirt the line of being dodgy However given the work the author has done in pushing women beyond the context of the stereotypical Female Fantasy Novel Tropes I m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt to the next book to see how things develop with these various cultures All in all a political intrigue plot driven by strong worldbuilding and an intriguing system of magic and death with heaps and heaps of female characters doing interesting things I first read this ages ago and uickly followed it up with the second book but then didn t get onto reading the third book So I felt like I needed to refresh my memory The first book wasn t my favourite and I still think the second is probably stronger but the idea of a spy necromancer running around fomenting rebellion remains pretty darn cool The cultures are a little bit umm They feel like very obvious analogues But I give Guy Gavriel Kay a pass for that so Amanda Downum can have it too and mostly her mythology hangs together and everything works so that s fineIssylt is a pretty awesome main character though. 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.