Book review: Cities and Thrones by Carrie Patel

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Author: Carrie Patel

Publisher: Angry Robot

Release date: July 2, 2015 (UK), July 7 (North America)

Note: This book was provided by the publisher.


In the fantastical, gaslit underground city of Recoletta, oligarchs from foreign states and revolutionaries from the farming communes vie for power in the wake of the city’s coup. The dark, forbidden knowledge of how the city came to be founded has been released into the world for all to read, and now someone must pay.

Inspector Liesl Malone is on her toes, trying to keep the peace, and Arnault’s spy ring is more active than ever. Has the city’s increased access to knowledge put the citizens in even more danger? Allegiances change, long-held beliefs are adjusted, and things are about to get messy.

I reviewed the first book in this series last year, but I believe the release date got pushed back and it wasn’t actually released until this past March. So the good news is, it’s easy to find the first book so you can get started on the series. The bad news is, the first book’s release date got pushed back (that must’ve been a major bummer for the author). Anyway. I did enjoy the first book, and I was super happy that I got the chance to revisit Recoletta and its citizens. The review of The Buried Life is here. Give it a read if you aren’t familiar with this series.

What I liked:

So many things. There was so much political intrigue, twists and turns, and plotting and conspiracies, but it was all done against a backdrop of this amazing Dystopian Steampunk world. So cool, you guys. So cool. As a result of the events of the first book, there’s a mass exodus out of Recoletta, and we get a glimpse of the world outside of the underground city. (Hint: there are more underground cities. And above-ground farming communes.) The main characters of the first book return for the sequel (yay!), and one is part of the exodus from Recoletta, while one is not. The third uses his wily ways to somehow float between the two.

And…there are so many layers of conspiratorial plotting here, you guys. SO MANY.

It’s pretty cool.

No, really.

What I didn’t like:

Inspector Malone. I’m really sorry, especially since she’s such a major character, but I just cannot seem to like her. I find her cold and unfeeling and hard to sympathize with (which might be the point, actually).

Also? The ending! I got to the last page and realized that it was book 2 of what is probably a trilogy, and then I shook my fist at the sky because now I have to wait for book 3. (At least I hope it’s a trilogy, since I don’t think I can handle waiting for a fourth book.) (Is this what GRR Martin fans feel like?) (I’m not a patient person.)

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book and I thought that Cities and Thrones is a great follow up to The Buried Life. The scheming was delightfully House of Cards, if House of Cards took place in the future in a network of Steampunk-like underground cities. (Netflix has to make this show, seriously.) I got to spend more time with the characters (some of whom I liked, some of whom I didn’t), and I got to spend more time in the world. By this I mean I got a look inside how the world is set up — what the “global” power structure looks like, what life is like outside of Recoletta, what the hierarchies are, etc.

It’s really fascinating.

On top of that, the writing is really, really good. And on top of that, Carrie Patel has created a world that’s so rich, so full, and so well-developed, that it’s incredibly easy to get lost in it. There are layers to the characters and layers to the world itself. It’s incredibly thought out and developed, and it’s so well-done. I’d revisit this world again for sure.





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