I found this book a little disappointing. It’s a good book, but it could so easily have been great. Stella Gemmell does some things in ‘The City’ very well, and some other things not so well. First, the good things. Stella Gemmell does a great job of giving the reader a sense of the weight of the City’s history, and the never-ending nature of the war. The underground Halls were described very well, with lots of detail, and were also pretty cool. The last half of the book moved along quickly and was pretty exciting and all the different plots drew together nicely. Some of Stella Gemmell’s best descriptions are also in this second half, such as the Serafim, and the creepy goings-on within the Keep of the Red Palace.

Now, the first half of the book… for the first half you don’t really know what’s going on or what the point of the story is. That makes the first 200 pages of the book a real chore to read. Stella Gemmell also introduces characters that appear very minor… and then you read a name 50 pages later that seems familiar, but you can’t quite remember who it is… If you get through the first half of the book you’re rewarded with the ending, but what made this so disappointing is that I feel a small scene at the beginning to hint at the plot (or at least let you know there is one) would have gone a long way towards making the first-half more interesting. Another issue I found is that there a lot battles. That in itself isn’t a problem, it’s that each battle is described in minute detail- every sword thrust and stab. By the time I got to the big battles at the end I was a little bored of reading about all that fighting. The last issue I will talk about is the characters. I was mostly indifferent to the characters. Eventually I became attached to Emly and Bartellus, but I didn’t care about Indaro at all. If they had been more interesting, the first half, as long and winding as it is, wouldn’t have bothered me so much. Emly, unfortunately, also undergoes an abrupt personality change in a short scene with one of her love interests (you’ll know what I’m talking about when you read it…). It isn’t so much what happened, but how it happened, and if you’re paying attention, you’ll notice Emly uses pretty much the same words as another character earlier in the story.

Despite the flaws with this book, the second half managed to catch my attention, the idea and history of the Serafim and City were intriguing and well explained, and the ending was exciting. If you’re one of those people who don’t mind if books take a while to get started, then I can happily recommend ‘The City’ to you, otherwise, I’m not so sure. If you do pick this up, try and stick with it until the second half- that’s where all the good stuff is.

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