Book Title: City of Lies
Series: Poison Wars (#1)
Author: Sam Hawke
Goodreads Link: Click here
Release Date: 7/3/18
Star Rating: – Really good book. Recommended
Disclaimer: I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me…
Hook, line and sinker. How is it possible to refuse a book that opens that way? I’ll do you one even better, it has a 4-star Goodreads review from Robin Hobb. Yes, please. I’ll take it!
City of Lies lives up to its opening. Jovan, is a proofer. He has extensive knowledge and training in poisons and chemistry. His job is not as assassin but instead is to keep the Chancellor’s family safe from threat. He fails to prevent an attack which kills the Chancellor and lays the city open to siege from without.
This kingdom of Silasta has a complicated past. The author does a good job of world building, and there is a complicated history that has led to rebellion. The nobility like to think of themselves as progressive and sophisticated, but as Faulkner said “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” That past is coming back to haunt them.
A conquering kingdom can be centuries away from its moment of conquest but how do you ever made peace with the people you’ve harmed? If you are a nation who can deny the humanity of another to extent of invading and subjugating them, can you break the pattern and live in peace with the people you’ve suppressed? These are questions that have been drifting around in my mind lately. I recently read The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin and it dovetailed with City of Lies in my thoughts. Don’t get me wrong, these are two very different books, but I feel like they share a kinship in the way they look (in differing degrees) at the harm done to the psyche of the conquered and the conquering people. Certainly the country I belong to has not healed from the violence brought upon it hundreds of years ago. I don’t know that you ever get over it.
City of Lies inspired deep thoughts, but didn’t weigh me down. I enjoyed the writing, and really liked the characters. In particular Jovan’s sister Kalina. I became very fond of her. She was lovely, brilliant and compassionate. This society has respect for women, they are allowed positions of honor and prominence, and is also LGBTQ inclusive. But it killed me every time she felt the need to hide her intelligence or feign weakness in order to get people to listen to her. I have to admit, what a clever way to show the reader, that this society may not be as advanced as they seem to believe themselves. I appreciated the subtlety.
I am happy to see this is the first book in the series. I’m not sure how many more books will follow, but I will be following this new author. Ms. Hawke is a promising new artist.
Song for this book: I Am Chemistry by Yeasayer