City of Stairs: Or world building with a dash of story

City of Stairs - Robert Jackson Bennett

I wanted to like this book, I really did, but it became clear pretty quickly that this one wasn't going to resonate with me the way I had hoped. City of Stairs reads a lot like a historical fiction novel and a mystery rather than a fantasy. The language is rich and descriptive, but in places it tends to ramble. The primary focus is on intrigue and solving the various mysteries. While I did enjoy the world building I continually found my attention waning and getting through the pages was a struggle.


There were parts of this book I genuinely enjoyed. I liked Sigrund's scenes and character arc. I liked the magic, artifacts, and monsters (the monsters, though few, were a real highlight for me). And I quite enjoyed Vohannes, and the relationship between he and Shara. Unfortunately the story itself never really grabbed me, and I found the ending aggravating for spoilery reasons I won't go into. (Also of note, without going into it at length I need to say I found the treatment of the non-straight character in this book is highly problematic.) If you're looking for something fast paced and chock full of adventure this book will likely miss the mark for you, especially the first half. But if you want a lush well-built world, with some mystery, and a dash of philosophy stirred in, this book has a lot of merit and substance to sink your teeth into.



EDIT: The portion in italics was added post-publishing - I meant to include it and for some reason it was missing from this draft.