Aug 122014

Cover for City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett. A grey, hooded figure looms in a cloudy sky. Below him is a city at night, full of skyscrapers and lighted windows.Library Journal: The personalities of Shara and her hulking assistant Sigurd leap off the page, as do supporting characters such as Shara’s former lover Vohannes Votrov and the gruff local Saypuri governor Mulaghesh. The world Bennett (The Troupe; American Elsewhere) has constructed is a complex political landscape of a subjugated people holding onto the memories of their glory days and protective gods and the conquerors reaping revenge for their own previous subjugation. An excellent spy story wrapped in a vivid imaginary world.

Posing as a cultural ambassador, intelligence officer Shara Komayd comes to the city of Bulikov to investigate the murder of prominent Saypuri academic Efrem Pangyui. Efrem was a controversial figure, as he was studying the history and artifacts of the Continent from before the Saypuri conquest—history that the Continentals are not themselves allowed to study or even mention. The gods of the Continent are all presumed dead but Shara senses through her investigation that some of them might not be as dead as everyone thinks.