I didn’t actually finish the book. I got about a hundred pages in and stopped reading. Now me not reading the book all the way through reflects not at all on the quality of writing or the storyline. On the contrary, the writing is superb. 3rd person present narrative is absurdly difficult to pull off. Robert Jackson Bennett made the narrative sound natural. The storyline is very interesting and made me want to keep reading despite…
Well despite it being fantasy. I’m just not into fantasy anymore. I can’t watch Game of Thrones, because it’s fantasy, and I can’t bring myself to finish fantasy books. GoT has phenomenal cinematography, but being fantasy I see every little overused trope, every fantasy novel uses.
Let’s get this out in the open.
City of Stairs has phenomenal writing.
City of Stairs has interesting characters.
City of Stairs has amazingly inventive spins on classic fantasy tropes.
It’s those fantasy tropes that people who like and love fantasy, like and love to be in their fantasy books, which did the book in for me.
What are the tropes I can’t seem to get past anymore?
1. Magic. I simply don’t like magic anymore, implied or implicit, unless it takes the form of a mutant (i.e. X-Men)
2. The place no one is supposed to go to (north of the Wall in GoT. warehouses in City of Stairs)
3. The super strong, hugely muscled (usually tall) person who is either mentally-deficient or an enigma
Every single fantasy novel I have ever read has all three of those tropes in them. I ate them up in middle school and high school. I was reading 1 or 2 fantasy books a week during those years. Absolutely loved it. Then my preferences changed. No idea what happened, but A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan was the last fantasy book I read, and only because I had already read the previous 12. It was so worth reading it too. A 700+ page battle. The end was a little weak, but the entire book was worth reading the series.
Back to City of Stairs.
If you LOVE fantasy or have even a passing enjoyment in it, then you will LOVE City of Stairs. Don’t let my inability to finish reading fantasy novels make you pass up reading this book.