They call it "The City of a Hundred Rows". The ancient city of Thaiburley is a vast, multi-tiered metropolis. The poor live in the City Below and demons are said to dwell in the Upper Heights. Having witnessed a murder in a part of the city he should never have been in, street thief Tom has to run for his life. Down through the vast city he is pursued by sky-borne assassins, sinister Kite Guards, and agents of a darker force intent on destabilisingthe whole city. His only ally is Kat, a renegade like him, but she has secrets of her own...
Ian’s love of science fiction began while he was still at school, manifesting itself when he produced an SF murder mystery as homework after being set the essay title “The Language of Shakespeare”, much to the bemusement of his English teacher. Also while at school, Ian was awarded The Lord Mayor’s Prize for English, in a competition open to all the schools in London. His first published stories appeared in the late 1980s, but it was not until the early 2000s that he began to pursue writing with any seriousness, joining the Northampton SF Writers Group in 2004 after being introduced to its chairman, Ian Watson.
It's interesting how an author's work can strike a positive chord in some, and in others, a severe dissonance.
Think before you react on my statement. Consider a few of YOUR favorite authors - You love their work, while other people loathe them. Ultimately, it's about an author's words reaching out to YOU, where YOU live, and a literary connection is birthed, a relationship between inspired writing and your personal taste.
How does this diatribe regarding style and preference fit into this review?
In the case of this particular work of Ian Whates, this simple literary rule will predominate for both its listeners and readers, and here's why:
Descriptive expression is so important for successful fantasy or scifi writing, because you're asking the reader or listener to suspend disbelief, and journey into the author's work in good faith.
Mr.Whates excels in plot and character communication and interaction. However, while he has built a FASCINATING milieu, bursting with astounding potential, the descriptive necessities of the world he's created could be more detailed. Despite this weakness, this is out of the box creativity personified - The potential here for great storytelling is superb, to say the very least.
That being established, if you enjoy urban fantasy, with a mixture of originality, steampunk, magic, intrigue, and interesting dialogue, you'll enjoy this audiobook, as I did, and you'll forgive the less descriptive narration. However, if you like rich, deep, lengthy descriptions of the author's literary world he or she has created, a solid focus on setting the milieu, such as Jordan does in his "Wheel Of Time" series, you may NOT fully enjoy this author's first work in the series.
As to why I like this work, it's very original on a number of levels, and if followed through appropriately by Whates, it has the tremendous potential to become a fantastic launchpad for future works. All this being said, though, his lack of better description of even simple things pulled my ratings back on this work.
It's a good solid beginning, and while I enjoyed the ride a lot, the milieu descriptives, so important to suspend disbelief, were thin. Shallow at times. So, despite the lack of stronger descriptive writing, the other wonderful strengths in this work has made it enjoyable for me, thrusting wind into the author's literary sails of this work. I truly enjoyed it, I'll overlook this descriptive thinness, and I'll acquire the next in the series.
Will it do so for you? I have to say that it's going to be about individual preference on this one.
Here's hoping this audiobook fills YOUR sails ...
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