Sam Sykes, “The City Stained Red” (Gollancz, 2014)
It opens as a bog standard fantasy: an adventuring party entering a city. You meet a fighter, a cleric, an elf, a mage, a thief. It’s good, but not really too remarkable. But there’s plenty of action, and the tone of the writing is somewhat addictive. You keep on reading & before you know it you realize this is really good!
There are twists and depths to the world building and the characters. What I presumed to be rather generic fantasy templates are in fact unique well-developed characters. And the world is deep and rich and very very weird.
How many fantasy novels have kaiju battles? This one has a couple.
There are demons and cultists and thieves and murderers. Giant spiders who eat humans and poop out silk.
It’s a big scary dark world. But saving you from the grimmest of grimdark is Sam Sykes’ tone. He’s quick, witty and quippy. At times I was reminded of Whedon, given the sense that this is a team book.
I love this! I can’t believe I have to wait until next year for the next volume.