City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett – DNF

City of Stairs


Cover art thanks to Goodread, click on it to visit book’s page there.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Blogging for Books for an honest review.

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More Info

Author Bio

Book Synopsis:

A densely atmospheric and intrigue-filled fantasy novel of living spies, dead gods, buried histories, and a mysterious, ever-changing city-from one of America’s most acclaimed young SF writers.

Years ago, the city of Bulikov wielded the powers of the Gods to conquer the world. But after its divine protectors were mysteriously killed, the conqueror has become the conquered; the city’s proud history has been erased and censored, progress has left it behind, and it is just another colonial outpost of the world’s new geopolitical power. Into this musty, backward city steps Shara Divani. Officially, the quiet mousy woman is just another lowly diplomat sent by Bulikov’s oppressors. Unofficially, Shara is one of her country’s most accomplished spymasters-dispatched to investigate the brutal murder of a seemingly harmless historian. As Shara pursues the mystery through the ever-shifting physical and political geography of the city, she begins to suspect that the beings who once protected Bulikov may not be as dead as they seem-and that her own abilities might be touched by the divine as well.

My Review:

I could not even make it 100 pages into this book.  Tons of great reviews, wanted to like it, but it is simply boring and too confusing.  To me it seems as if the author is to concerned with world building and writing a story of literary genius that all his clever, beautifully written, over descriptive, paragraphs and sentences gets in the way of simply telling a good story.  Reading this is simply too much work and I struggled to pay attention.  I read for fun and don’t want to read anything that is a chore to get through.  Other reviews and the synopsis made this book appeal to me, hence my requesting it, but the story is just to slow to start off and so confusing with the myriad of characters and strange names that I give up.  To all that loved it: great, happy for you, but I will not be continuing.  The world seemed like an interesting mix of dystopian and fantasy, but it just got too bogged down for me. In the amount of pages that I managed to work through there was no one that I could identify with, no one that I cared about, and no one I could remember several pages after I left them.  The excerpts from fictional text at the beginning of each chapter also disrupted my reading flow as well.  Important information within, but perhaps what the reader needed to know about the history of this world could have been conveyed in a different manner, one that didn’t take the reader out of the momentum of the story or action.  As much as I wanted to get into this story I think this is simply a case of the author’s writing style and my reading taste not being compatible.


4 thoughts on “City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett – DNF

    1. Didn’t know he had a blog. Now I want to go see if all his writing is like this book. I think it is a great concept, but just poorly executed. Those who I call snob readers, people who only want to read something that challenges them might enjoy it.


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