City of Last Chances
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 out of 5stars
Title: City of Last Chances
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Format: ARC, ebook
Publication: 8th of December 2022
Ilmar, a city under the Palleseen occupation. A presence that aims to uproot the indigenous culture, leading the locals to strictly defined ‘perfection’. Meanwhile, in the dark alleyways, docks, pubs, corridors of the academy and salons of aristocracy, the conspirators meet, dreaming of the revolution. Moreover, they all have their own, often contradictory visions…
City of Last Chances is one of the most complex fantasy books I have ever read. It portrays the city on the verge of revolution. Ilmar is a wonderful place with a long history, traditions and customs crumbling under the solid ideological presence of the Palleseen. Still, the city remains a maddening mixture of the locals, the emigrants, the occupiers, the ghosts of the past and the mystic Indwellers, that can move between mysterious places through the mist that gathers in the most ancient part of the town— the Anchorwood. It seems impossible not to get lost in the constant flood of stories, characters and places. There are many nationalities, cultures, religions and fractions at play here and getting a hold of the basic rules might take a while. Especially since the narration switches between the broad scope of characters almost randomly.
This novel is not a quick and easy read. I almost gave up on it because it seemed too complicated. I continued, and I am glad of it because, after the initial confusion, I started to appreciate the intricacy of the plot. It presents the revolution on all the social levels of the city, from the criminals and the poorest, through the aspiring students to the old noble families. It includes men and women, the young and the old, simple thugs and sophisticated noblewomen; even demon slaves are given a voice. Apart from that, all those characters have distinctive personalities, histories, beliefs and goals. There is much to unpick in the novel, but it is worth the time and effort.
Thank you, NetGalley and publisher, for providing the arc of this novel in exchange for an honest review.