City of Night, by Michelle West

tanjagnz's review against another edition

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This book was an amazing followup to The Hidden City, and between the two of them, they've got me thoroughly addicted to the world of Essaliyen and the realm of the Twin Kings again, to the point where I feel like I HAVE to re-read the Sun Sword set (or at least the last four books of it - the first two I've re-read within recent memory)

This book starts a little after The Hidden City left off, with the one member of Jewel's den that we never got to meet: Angel. I don't remember to what degree he played a part in the epic events of the Sun Sword set, but a LOT of time is spent at the beginning of the book developing his back story and the way he comes to be part of the the Den.

As the book develops we discover that Jewel and the Den are now living in their own place, and why; and see how far Rath has come from the person we met him as, back at the beginning of The Hidden City. We get to see events inexorably unfolding, taking us (and of course, the characters and the world) closer and closer towards the events described in the Hunter duology, and in Jewel's memories of her life before she became the ATerafin we meet in The Broken Crown.

This book introduces more of the characters we know and love from the previous sets: I swear I actually squeed for a good couple of minutes when Meralonne & Sigurne started talking about seeing "Senniel's youngest master bard perform", and then actually meeting the younger Kallandras was a treat. On that note, somehow I'd forgotten just how deeply his fury and anger at Evayne ran... and seeing the depth of it captured in a single sentence of dialogue as he warns one of the other characters about the cost of following her makes for an incredibly powerful scene.

Plus, in addition to Kallandras, we also get to briefly meet Evayne; and towards the end, Amarais (the Terafin), Torvan, Alowan and Ellerson as well. Really, the only main character that's missing now, I think, is Avandar, and I'm really hoping he'll make an appearance in Book 3.

The plot of this book, much like in The Hidden City, moved fairly slowly, and in a lot of detail until the last quarter of the book, at which point everything intensified majorly. The themes of redemption, determination and sacrifice are every bit as strong in this instalment as the first one, although different characters are stepping up to the plate this time (or occasionally, stepping up in different ways)

The author's use of language, however, was every bit as strong here as it has been in previous books, and there were entire passages I found myself going back and rereading two - even three - more times, just to savour the beauty of the way she'd used the words she'd chosen.

All up, I'm happy giving this book a 9/10 - it's typical Michelle West in that it's a complex, well-written story with amazing characterisation that well and truly leaves me craving more.

avis's review against another edition

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I am so sad. I love these characters so much and ...
Gosh this book tears your heart out.

caitlinxmartin's review

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I think Michelle West's books are among the best of newer fantasy writers. I love her universe, her ability to write characters that are three-dimensional and who I care about, her interest in broad themes of family and loyalty, and her fabulous storytelling.

This is the second in the House Wars series and expands on the story told in the Sacred Hunt duology - expands and tells it from a slightly different perspective. Some people may find this annoying because they think they've heard the story before and it isn't strictly moving the new story along, but I'm not one of those people. I absolutely loved getting deeper into the tale, finding a new way of looking at it all, and getting to know these characters even better than I already know them. I love that West is taking her time to develop this rich story and this great group of characters. I can't wait to see where she goes next.

agathag's review

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adventurous mysterious sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


clendorie's review

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adventurous sad slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes


laurla's review against another edition

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made me cry. but her books do that. she has a way of expressing things thats just so real.

"but it feels real. i wanted - i needed - to find a place to belong. a home. a family. but there are some days i wake up ... and i know, i mean i know it cant last. this. and sometimes, when i know it, i'm afraid to want it too badly because if i want it, something will take it away."
"and you said you didnt understand duster."
"i dont. but i recognize my own fear when i see it in someone else."
"fair enough. but is it really better to have nothing?"
"no. but if thats all you're certain you'll have, sometimes you think it'll hurt less if you bring it on yourself."

"she had no words to spare. all of her words were on the inside of her mouth, her throat; they were a messy jumble of anger and fear. she wanted to believe that if she untangled them, if she chose the right words, he would understand. he would listen."

crownoflaurel's review against another edition

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I'll probably never finish this one, so I'll just mark it here. First grievance--they didn't list it as being the second book in a series ("A House Wars Novel" means to me it takes place within a certain world, but isn't necessarily a consecutive book in a series). So, that made it hard, from the very start, to understand the story & characters.

Secondly--this book starts with a really interesting tale about a boy seeking revenge. The style of the writing was intriguing, slightly detached, and felt very much like a short story, and it wasn't truely resolved. Since it didn't resemble the book's description, I was a bit confused, but still enjoyed it.

But then it merged into the main story. And this boy became a nothing background character in a typical orphan kids' street gang, with somebody else as the main protagonist. And the story completely stalled out--all it seemed to be was this other character going back and forth between places, without ever a good reason for doing why, or moving the story forward. Pretty mundane stuff; the threat was not threatening, and the writing became dull.

And after the initial interesting start, it was very flat. And made me fall asleep while reading it. Which I don't usually do, as a rule. (And I'm a fast reader, so I should have been able to finish it quickly, and I couldn't do that, either.)

beejai's review against another edition

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I will not lie to you. This book had me a bit choked up more than once. I can watch the most dramatic of tear-jerker movies without batting an eyelash, but put a heartbreaking moment in a well-written book and I cannot hold them back. At three different moments I *so* want to talk about (but won't because... spoilers) I had to put the book down and grab me some tissues.

The first 2/3 the book was a slow burn similar to The Hidden City. Many of the same characters are here, now three years older. This brings them into their early teens and Michelle West does an excellent job of portraying the dynamic of a household of kids, orphans, all this age living together. They have moved out from living with Rath and have been scraping along by occasionally finding and selling an artifact from the Hidden City. (Or should we now call it the "City of Night"?)

Then the first big bad happens. And the second. Grab the tissues, come back, and now it seems almost like I am reading a different novel. The pacing has changed. The perspectives are often very different. And from here to the end it is almost as if we are reading a different novel. It is still in itself good, but the change is a bit jarring.

While MW's characterization and world-building are excellent, her magic system is not. It's a minor complaint and considering how many more books there are in the series, there is plenty of time to flesh it out better. The only other thing I did not appreciate was her too frequent use of the "d" word. Though I don't curse myself, I don't get all prissy with occasional profanity, but it seemed like every other sentence was "d" this and "d" that. Perhaps it has to do with how she thought a bunch of young teens would talk and think? Either way, it was overdone but a minor issue in comparison with this excellent story.

Now... Where can I get my hands on a copy of House Name?

flowersbloomhere's review against another edition

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I was VERY skeptical about continuing this series even though I enjoyed the first House War book. I didn’t realize this was a part of such a bigger series within a series

kjjohnson's review against another edition

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This is a strange series for me because there’s a lot of things about the prose and pacing I don’t particularly like, but I still find the series addictive and am eager to read the next one. And this immediate need is more than I can say for a lot of books that I thought were more tightly and better written. So it’s hard for me to rate.


Main characters: I really like Jewel and Duster and Rath, and want to spend more time with them and for them to succeed (well, just Jewel now). I am very invested in Jewel’s growth and how all of her, mostly traumatic, experiences have shaped her, and I want to know how the radically different Terafin House will further mold her. I also admire how despite everything she does want to do good.

Emotional stakes: Even if I didn’t care about some of the side characters who died too much (i.e. Fisher, Lander, Lefty to some extent), I still somewhat cared solely because Jewel and the rest of the den cared so deeply. And Duster’s death made me simultaneously sad but proud of how much she’s grown. I’m glad Rath was able to make his choice and make a difference.

Atmosphere: While the pacing is sometimes off, when it’s on it can have an extremely effective atmosphere. Creeping horror as Jewel and Duster are almost trapped in the under city, or as children just disappear. The intensity of the dreams. The awe of beings so much more powerful than man, and what they leave behind. She’s good (sometimes) at evoking emotion from me.

No time wasted on unnecessary romance plots! It’s unbelievably refreshing, honestly.


Pacing: The first 14% of the book, according to Kindle, was prologue. It took over an hour to read. That’s ridiculous. It was all backstory for a brand new character, which was annoying when I wanted to read about all the characters who I got invested in from the first book, and then it didn’t really pay off to anything by the end. Angel was just sort of absorbed into the den and then didn’t do a ton. Presumably it will pay off more next book? But it was ridiculous. There was also a bunch of repetition and spelling out characters feelings and emotions to an absurd degree, but that was similar to the first book and I kind of got used to it.

Side characters: While some of the side characters, like Sigurne and the Terafine House mage, were good, a lot of the ones I feel like I was supposed to be invested in, like the aforementioned Fisher and Lander and Lefty, were just kind of there. A lot of the den blended together in the background, until they were killed off, and honestly part of me was kind of thankful they were killed off because there were fewer members I had to remember and the ones I actually cared about survived (read: Carver, Finch, Arann; the only exception was Duster). I only felt bad because characters I actually cared about felt bad, not because they died in and of itself. Even now the only things I know about Jester are his tragic backstory (and even then, nothing about his family) and that he cracks jokes. That’s it. The only den-killing I was truly sad about was Duster, and I’d argue she was more a main character than a side character based on the POV time she got. That’s probably the reason I was sad, honestly.

Lastly, there are an awful lot of schemers who are extremely observant and very good at hiding all their feelings while expounding upon how observant they are and how they are hiding their feelings and sometimes it gets tiring.

As I said, though, despite all of the above I am extremely invested in Jewel and her story and her growth and changes and I am therefore going to continue this series way faster than I have others. What can I say, I like her found family and their unconditional loyalty to each other and Jewel, and am curious where they will go. Also curious about Amarais now that she’s finally appeared in the story. RIP Duster.