City of Last Chances

Head of Zeus. May 2023. 496p. ISBN 9781801108423. $29.99. FANTASY
Welcome to Ilmar, the last refuge of every culture fleeing ahead of the Palleseen Sway’s conquering forces. At Ilmar’s heart, a dead duke and his cursed court shroud the gateway to magical realms still outside the influence of the conquerors. Shimmering as well in the city is the thought of rebellion, only awaiting a spark to light it. Also here, taking advantage of their opponents’ bad ideas and worse luck, are a stolen relic, a dead official, and restless ghosts. As a motley band of frenemies tries to ride the chaos, others launch a bid to take the city back. Ilmar is corrupt, cursed, oppressed, and haunted at every turn, and each of those turns draws the tension in the plot ever tighter. Putting this novel down is as impossible as escape for any of the characters. Readers who swooned over the magic-infused city-empire of Kithamar in Age of Ash by Daniel Abraham will be thrilled to walk the mean streets of Ilmar in this clash of imperialism and sorcery.
VERDICT This stand-alone epic fantasy from Tchaikovsky (Children of Memory) is highly recommended for lovers of big sprawling sagas who don’t want to wait years for a climactic conclusion.
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