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City of Last Chances (The Tyrant Philosophers)

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Badass Pacifist: After his life is saved by converting to Yasnic's religion, Ruslav is forced to become one, as committing violence will lead to his wounds reopening. This is best shown when God is forced to keep Ruslav alive after Yasnic's apostasy, which Ruslav puts to good use acting as a baton-proof human shield so the Gownhall students can rescue Ivarn.

The novel is set in the titular city of Ilmar, suffering under the heavy boot of an occupation force left over from the city’s conquest three years earlier by the Palleseen, a people who seek “perfection” in themselves and others via “correct principles of law and thought.” While the city seems stable on the surface, it seethes with anger, resentment, greed, and ambition as various factions have their own view of what resistance looks like and who should lead any eventual rebellion should one occur, as well as who should benefit from it. These factions are not new-born from the conquest, but are long-standing opposed forces in the city: the criminal underworld, who have found little difference in the scorn with which they are treated by the overthrown duke and his aristocracy or the victorious Palleseen; the Armigers, the old families more concerned with a return to power rather than a return to independence; and the Siblingries, the factory workers who toil for the conquerors as they did for the upper classes before and feel oppressed by both. In the mix are the idealistic students of Gownhall University; the Allorwen, a downtrodden and mistrusted group of refugees from a land conquered earlier by the Palleseen; and most mysterious of all, the Indwellers, the enigmatic people who control the ways in and out of the Anchorwood, an ancient grove that acts as a portal through to other worlds for those who can pay the price of safe transport. Tchaikovsky (Children of Time) launches his Final Architecture series with a dazzlingly suspenseful space opera. A colossal, sentient entity known as an Architect rips Earth apart into a Continue reading » But as we get into the swing of things, we see the same faces circling around again and again, and eventually have some chapters told from the same perspective twice, and something begins to emerge. It's nothing so simple as a single narrative, but there are a lot of threads being pulled in complementary directions, and a general movement ripples out to affect all the characters we see, and things begin to happen in Ilmar.

The hemp,” [he] growled. “The roughest hog-bristle hemp you have. But I will have the shave. Let my corpse show the rope burn.”

Arthur C. Clarke Award winner Tchaikovsky (Children of Time) wows with this inventive and empathetic story of courage, science, and magic. Though Lynesse is the mere Fourth Daughter of the Continue reading » Treasure hunters and ruin divers often take high-risk, high-reward jobs to loot or steal from the abandoned houses in the Reproach’s outer most regions.Fantasy Gun Control: Played straight despite Ilmar being in a fantasy version of the Industrial Revolution. Instead of guns, the most common ranged weapon are Palleseen batons-voice-activated wooden rods that use pure magic as fuel, and shoot out streams of burning hot magical force.

City of Last Chances really feels like a snapshot of a city. A guided glimpse at a world on the precipice of change, where the beauty of the story is in the slow and gentle unfolding of how the unrelated combine, rather than a race to the plot line. Ruslav; a street thug of moderate renown. His character undergoes multiple huge changes over the course of the story, and despite his straight forward set up, he became one of the most unique and nuanced characters of the book.

These are just a few of the dozens of top quality characters this book boasts. Seeing their perspectives overlap and intertwine was so much fun, and it made the city really feel whole and alive. This book was one I had ridiculously high hopes for and may have had my expectations too highly placed. I remained impressed by the rich world that was developed and intrigued by the criminal workings, elite rule, and struggling masses within it. I did, however, feel a little distanced from many of the principal characters, for some reason, bonding more with their many plights than with their individual personalities. This did not ruin my overall enjoyment but I merely found it to be unlike the book I had predicted I would read.

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