I picked up Amanda Downum's The Drowning City because several of my review sources were telling me that I really ought to buy the sequel, which was just released last week. I was pleased to find that I had purchased the first book for the library the previous year, though apparently I was the only librarian in western Massachusetts to do so.
The Drowning City (first in the Necromancer Chronicles series) features several female characters' viewpoints, the primary one being that of Isyllt Iskaldur, a foreign necromancer who is sent to the lush river city of Symir to foment rebellion. Symir sits below an active volcano that produces valuable gemstones for the Assari Empire. Isyllt brings with her the mercenary Xinai, a returning native who finds herself joining the rebellion. She also meets and befriends the nineteen-year old apprentice Zhirin, who has connections both to the Empire that controls the city, and to the rebels that seek to topple that control. Other characters include Adam, Isyllt's mercenary guard, and Asheris, a mysterious and attractive southern mage.
Isyllt struggles to understand and manipulate the situation in Symir in an increasingly violent and uneasy atmosphere; some of the rebels, the Dai Tranh, advocate a vicious, no-holds-barred approach, while others protest peacefully. The city rulers attempt to control the situation while fulfilling their required payment to the Empire. As the danger mounts, its unclear whether Isyllt will be successful in her mission, much less leave Symir alive.
I definitely enjoyed the book, although there were a few things I could nitpick, such as Downum's tendency toward sentence fragments. At times it felt like there were too many plotlines, but I was satisfied both by the resolution and by what was left open for subsequent books. With Symir, Downum created a vibrant setting with definite southeast Asian overtones, and it will be interesting to see how The Bone Palace (which I did order, in case anyone was wondering), with an entirely different setting, compares.
ETA: This was my 200th post on the blog. I think I've come a long way since May 2007.
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Dead Mother: Yes, several