Describing Robert Jackson Bennett’s Divine Cities trilogy, they sound a lot like the latest Craft novel from Max Gladstone: So there was a war in which the old gods were killed off, and as the story begins, we’re in a city under colonial rule, in which the very geography of the city is shared between the old city-that-was and the new city, and there are rising tensions between the locals and the imperial overlords.

See what I mean? That’s almost precisely the premise of Ruin of Angels. But Bennett’s doing a very different thing with that premise; his world-building is a lot less weird, and more conventional, than Gladstone’s. (For both good and ill: It’s less original and densely-packed with new ideas, but it’s a more accessible, breezy read.)

Each of the three novels in the series tells a complete story, following different characters out of the first novel on their further adventures; like Gladstone’s Craft novels, they tend to be about modern political themes, examining colonialism, democracy, technological progress (feeling a bit like Pratchett at times), religious pluralism, and so forth.

But they also come together to tell a larger story that manages to acquire some of the scope of history to it. And that’s maybe what the series is most about, looking at the bloody sweep of history, and wondering if it’s possible for there to exist meaningful justice or lasting peace.

But I don’t want to give the impression that these are dry, grim, big-concept reads. The characters in them are great; they’ve got a good solid mix of humor, action, and mystery; and the writing is compellingly readable. Highly recommended for people who like Pratchett and Gladstone.


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