I own the first book in Robert Jackson Bennett’s Divine Cities series but I still haven’t gotten around to reading it, so when I saw this book was coming out, I wasn’t convinced that it was something I needed to pick up since I’m trying to limit my book buying this year. Then I saw a few reviews on Booktube about how fantastic this book was, so I decided to give it a go.
Originally I was a little nervous because the magic system is a lot different than what I tend to gravitate towards. In this book, the magic system revolves around technology and something called scriving, while I normally lean towards things like spells and elemental magic. BUT once I started reading this book, I realized that this system is so complex and interesting that it didn’t matter that it was my usual magical system!
I loved that we learned about the magic system throughout the book and that it wasn’t all shoved into your face right away. Throughout the book, you would have questions about scriving and it was all slowly revealed, and even at the end it left enough questions regarding the magic and the world that I know the next book will continue to build and expand on what we’ve already learned.
This book is mainly about Sancia, a sarcastic thief with an interesting ability, but we also get a few other perspectives thrown in to really get a good look at the action and what is going on. Sancia ends up on a heist right at the very beginning of the book to steal a very important object and gets sucked into a conflict that she wants to part in.
That particular object that she steals is one of my favorite parts of the book, and it’s a HUGE part of the plot and the history of the world, so I don’t want to go into too many details, since the moment you realize what this object is is such a fun moment in this book!
Sancia ends up being caught by Gregor, who is trying to -unsuccessfully- bring order to this city, and since Sancia is disrupting that, he decides he needs to bring her to justice. Eventually, we also meet Orso and Berenice who are both scrivers for Gregor’s family. Beside the object Sancia finds, Orso is probably my other favorite character. He is so sour and curmudgeonly but knows a lot and you can see that he’s been through a lot in his past.
I don’t know if I could fully explain what scriving is since the book does it so much better than anything that I could say, but basically it is convincing an object that it’s reality is…different. It’s a very interesting system that really fits in with this world that has been created and was so much fun to learn about! The city that our characters live in, Tevanne, makes use of these scrivings to make things easier for the upper class (carriages that move on their own, unbreakable locks, floating lights, etc). These scrivings gave this world an industrial feel, which normally isn’t something that I like, but I LOVED it in this book!
This book starts off small with just one simple heist but gets bigger and bigger with more heists and more risks and more characters needed to pull of the heists.
The writing is extremely easy to read and understand, which for a fantasy this big in scope with so much detail into the magic system that has its basis in science is actually a good thing! The way this is written makes me feel that this would be good for people who are working their way into fantasy after getting a few under their belts.
The last 150-200 pages of this book flew by and I had such a hard time putting this down! It did have some slow parts towards the middle of the book, but once you get through that the book picks up the pace like a large boulder going downhill. The ending is just so intense and you really have no idea how the next book is going to go, but you know that it’s going to have even higher stakes and even more risks!
I’ve read so many great books so far this year, and this one is no exception and it is very possible that it will make my top 10 of the year. I can just tell that this year that list is going to be a tough one to pull together!
*I do want to point out that this book does have abuse, slavery, and the MC suffers from PTSD. If you are someone that is very triggered by that content, maybe skip this one. I personally don’t have any sort of triggers and i was able to get through it without any issues.*