Thursday, October 27, 2016

The White City - Simon Morden

THE WHITE CITY
SIMON MORDEN
GOLLANCZ
27.10.16

Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Book Info: Paperback, Fantasy, 321pp

Buy/Read Now (Links): Amazon UK/Amazon US/Goodreads

Rating: 5/5

Audience: Readers who enjoy epic fantasy fiction with amazing characters, a huge world and infectious storylines.

Summed up in a few words: Potential. Hooking. Crafted.

First Impression: I have been looking forward to this book all year, I really enjoyed Down Station which I read earlier this year and I was eager for more. I was hoping for bigger and better this time round and that is definitely what Simon Morden achieved with The White City. We return to the characters almost immediately after the events in the first book and it is non-stop magic, action, gripping fantasy and exciting/refreshing storylines from there. I thoroughly enjoyed the book from start to finish but I was still left with more questions than answers so need book 3 as soon as possible :D

Book Synopsis: Since escaping London's inferno, Mary and Dalip have fought monsters and won - though in the magical world of Down, the most frightening monsters come from within.

Now they hold the greatest of treasures: maps that reveal the way to the White City, where they can find the answers they're looking for, and learn the secrets of Down.

But to get there they must rely on Crows, who has already betrayed them at every turn. As they battle their way towards the one place in all of Down without magic, they must ask themselves how far they will go to find their way home.

"Make a stand. Save a world." 

Review

The White City begins with a conversation between the two main characters, Dalip and Mary and it is the calmest part of the entire book, beyond that small chat is all the things you would expect from a great fantasy book, massive, breathtaking worlds that only ever get bigger, unimaginable horrors, epic and somewhat amusing escapades, epic characters and tons and tons of secrecy. Mary sums it up in page 2.

" 'So what are you worried about?' she asked. 'Apart from thieves, assassins, monsters, the weather, Crows, the portals, the journey and this city we're supposed to be heading for? Tell me if I've left something out.' "

If you have not read the first book Down Station then you need to before you read this. So much happens in the first book that sets up the events that occur with its sequel that it is important to know what you are getting into when you set out to read The White City. 

Mary (a sarcastic, streetwise lady who can turn into a eagle) and Dalip (a young man with a strong Sikh faith, who thrives in Down, becoming stronger and more courageous by the day) are still very much reeling from the events in the first book, but they do not get much of breather. Going straight back into the action, they are betrayed by Crows (another 'Geomancer' who can manipulate the weather, turn into a giant serpent and has been in Down for longer than he can remember) and one of their remaining party is killed as a result.

What follows is a story that is part adventure, part survival and part revenge. Mary chases after Crows and tries to get back their maps of Down (which are incredibly valuable as no one has a true knowledge of the geography of Down) and Dalip stays behind to protect the remainder of their group from the many potential threats that are present in Down. Both characters set out on a path to the White City and the answers that are contained within.

 Simon Morden seems to go all out with his stories and I really respect that. I read a fair few of his books and every single one has a strong core plot, interesting, witty and badass characters and an addictive sense that anything could happen/change at any point in the arc of the plot. The White City definitely fall in line with this style and maybe even takes it to the next level. I absolutely love the endless potential that emanates from Morden's work and with his Down series he has painted this awesome picture and world but continuously drip feeds little parcels of information and plot with just enough potency to keep readers addicted and excited for more.

Fantasy, adventure and science fiction lovers will all have a blast with this book. It has all the excitement of a family friendly fantasy adventure, with the darker, sweary and sarcastic tones to make it so much more interesting and enticing. Themes in this book include revenge for murder, knowledge (wanting to understand the world) courage, identity and power/control. The characters are constantly shifting in identity due to Down's influence on their personalities and abilities so anyone is eventually capable of anything. I was laughing, cringing, crying, cursing, confused and enthusiastic throughout my reading The White City and I cannot wait for the next book.

 My biggest complaint of this book is that I am still left with way too many questions, Simon Morden being the savage dungeon master that he is has left events at an incredible infuriating cliffhanger and I need to know now what has happened and I have to wait now... I wish I had stumbled onto this series when all the instalments were out so I could binge on them all at once like I did with Morden's Metrozone series.

 My favourite elements to this story are the characters and Down itself. SM could have revealed way too much about everything in this book but he still kept his cards close to his chest and focused on strengthening an already strong cast of characters. Dalip just wants to do the right thing and protect his friends, Mary wants to figure out where she belongs and her true purpose and Crows is still a backstabbing pain in the rear who is openly evil because he holds all the answers.

Down is just as gorgeous and mysterious as ever, uncharted and full to the brim with an unexpected cast of citizens, ever confusing geography and an abundance of secrets. I was probably the wrong person to review this book as I am a huge Morden fan. I have been honest and told you my thoughts but overall I was very impressed. Morden went bigger and better, taking the characters on another quest for answers and developing the cast into interesting, diverse and both dark and humorous beings. Check it out and thank me later :D

I usually do an about the author piece here at the end but I recently got the opportunity to interview Simon Morden so please check that out here.

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