Lenk and his fellow adventurers have arrived to the gloriously named city Cier’Djaal. There, they want to collect the money they’re owed, settle some debts, and perhaps go their separate ways. Simple, right? Wrong. Nothing is ever that simple in any city, and Cier’Djaal is a simmering haven for trouble and secrets you’d rather not know. Which is perfect because this band of adventurers are experts at trouble and secrets.
I read a lot of brilliant new titles from Gollancz last year, but The City Stained Red would have to be my pick of 2015. It ticks so many boxes for me as a reader. There’s a great balance between action and dialogue, plot and world building – not to mention the monsters, warring factions, rich culture, magic and mayhem. Sam Sykes has written a story that gripped me, intrigued me and genuinely made me laugh out loud (a personal humour highlight being Gariath’s method of bartering!).
It’s been a long time since a story made feel as though everything else I had to do in the day was an annoying obstacle that prevented me getting back to reading. The City Stained Red is damn fine entertainment, and I was genuinely saddened when it ended. I cannot wait for the next book in the series, The Mortal Tally. Bring it on!