Here at the arse end of the world, nobody can hear you curse your former commanding officers

Written by
Robert Bennett Jackson in 2016

A retired military general goes to a shit place to do a shit job. Then she ends up in the shit herself.


I must say, City of Stairs was a book that I didn’t give much credence to before I read it. But afterwards, it left me with a warm sense of satisfaction. So to my surprise, when I found out a sequel was forthcoming, the preorder was immediate.

City of Blades is set a few years after the events of the previous book. Shara, the main character from Stairs is now Prime Minister, busy fighting off her political opponents whilst still trying to do good work. I imagine that’s what most politicians do all day, fighting fires that have no positive effect on life for everyone else.

She contacts Mulagesh, the hero from Bulikov, trying to convince her to do one last job for Saypur, an investigation into a mysterious substance found in Voortyashtan. There’s also the matter of a missing agent who was already sent to investigate the substance in the first place.

Mulagesh is haunted by the sins of her past and Voortyashtan is a symbol of suffering and war, since Voortya was the deity that unleashed war upon the world. Soon, she’s drawn into a mystery that’s far more subtle and mysterious than anything she’s ever faced in her life.

Now I won’t say City of Blades is exactly a subtle book. There’s a lot of swearing and blood and guts violence, though it’s never overused. Sometimes, you read things and the dialogue can seem out of place or disjointed, but the characters here seem to be well grounded and well written.

Funnily enough, not much is said about the setting of Voortyashtan, which is basically described as the arse end of the world. It’s probably deliberate, because how many words does one need to describe a crappy place? Instead, it focuses on actions and the unravelling of mysteries, which is honestly far more interesting.

If you’re a fan of Robert Bennett Jackson, and you enjoyed City of Stairs, you’ll really like this new one. It’s more of the same, and possesses the same twisted humour, with the same characters in a completely new setting. Do enjoy it!


This book has its own throne of blades. But this throne was nominally inhabited by a living God, not a petulant manchild like Joffrey. Four out of five!

Read this if you…

Enjoyed the off beat City of Stairs and found its universe stimulating.

Skip this if you…

Can’t deal with divinity.


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