Monday, June 4, 2012

The Drowning City by Amanda Downum

Amanda Downum’s The Drowning City is the first of The Necromancer Chronicles. The necromancer of those books is Isyllt Iskaldur, and she is also the main character of The Drowning City.

I had been waiting to read this book for a while, I held off partially because I’m getting a little sick of diving into never ending series, and having to wait for cliff hangers to be resolved forever and a day. When the author produced the 3rd book in the series two years after the 1stcame out, it really started to intrigue me, and it also seemed as if the books were relatively self contained, so I jumped in, oh and Larry Rostant’s cover art is extremely alluring.

The best word to describe The Drowning City is noir. Although this book is a secondary world fantasy, and set in a pre industrial world (although they do have gun powder, pistols are used rarely) it still has this very noirish feel about it. The city of Symir is for me the real star of the book and Amanda Downum’s writing. It’s rare to find an Asian influenced city in fantasy, and rarer still to find one written so well and created with such loving care. A steamy city on the edge of jungle, where criminals and nobles live cheek by jowl and at times it’s hard to pick the revolutionaries from the appointed power brokers.

Unfortunately the story got a bit lost in the setting. Symir had a very distinct character, but the characters themselves weren’t quite so well drawn. I could usually work out when Isyllt was the focus, but other characters were so remarkably similar, even down to their names that they became rather confusing and mixed in my mind. I liked Isyllt and her bodyguard Adam, although Isyllt didn’t seem to need Adam most of the time, so he became a bit superfluous.

There was an interesting story at the heart of The Drowning City about infiltrating a group of revolutionaries and using them to foil the plans of a more radical group of revolutionaries, but it appeared to be rather redundant as an explosion of magic caused largely the by actions of the book’s protagonists destroyed the city altogether.

There were some great ideas at work here; the city itself, Isyllt’s necromantic arts, the rather Asian flavoured culture, the ghosts who were as tangible as any living person, and I was also rather partial to the flesh eating water spirits; the nakhs.

Despite having some flaws and leaving me a little dissatisfied after a great start I will try to continue with the series and look at getting The Bone Palace, the sequel to The Drowning City.

No comments:

Post a Comment