City of Rogues by Ty Johnston
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
- A decent read that hits most of the expected marks -
amazon tends to abound with fantasy novels of various sub-genres prices between $2.99 to $0.00 nowadays. Many of them are crap, some of them are brilliant, while the rest fall where in the middle. City of Rogues is definitely amongst the third, though certainly towards the higher end.
The setting is a typical fantasy city, and like Conan and other sword and sorcery tales to which it is obviously inspired by, focuses mainly on the lower end of the social ladder, amongst the thieves, gangsters and others who fight out their days in the narrow alleyways at sword pint and edge of spell. Though the book description lists Kron Darkbow as the main character, an anti-hero bent of revenge (are there any other kinds?) the story spends even more time on its various other characters - a former mercenary turned political boss/gangster, a healer mage trying to escape his past, a former soldier and guard from a prison colony trying to make a fresh start in life, a world-weary city guards captain...and so on.
The central focus of the story is about the character Kron and his quest for revenge against Belgas, the preeminent gangster in the city, and how it draws in, affects and in some cases ends the lives of the characters. when it is over, a new quest has begun to liberate a far-off lands in the north from its insane wizard ruler.
The good points - well-rounded characters and a plot that, while no different from a hundred other fantasy novels, was well-written enough to hold my attention. I've always enjoyed fantasy tales with a gritty edge, and this had enough to make it a fun read.
The bad points - the setting isn't adequately explained. Various other realms are mentioned, but with little explanation as to how they relate to the characters in question. Religion plays a strong role in this society and the characters actions, but almost no background material is provided, causing some confusion. Also, the ending of the book comes across as awkward. Having defeated the bid baddie, Kron and two of the characters suddenly decide to hare off to another land to overthrow its king, almost out of the blue. it felt shoehorned in, giving the book the feeling of being almost an extended prologue.
Still, a decent read, worth three stars at least, worth an afternoons enjoyment.
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