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City of Bones
by Martha Wells
I'm not sure what book the jacketflaps on City of Bones describe. It sounds like a cross between The Phoenix Guards and the Arabian Nights, and I really would like to read it someday, because it sounds like fun. But while I wouldn't describe City of Bones as "rollicking," I'm certainly glad that it happened to be tucked into this particular dustjacket, because it's a Very Good Read.
Charisat is a tiered city, in which the richer you are, the higher you live. The closest things to law and order are the Trade Inspectors, who wield big sticks, and Warders, who wield Mystical Powers. Khat is a lower-Tier dealer of relics, artifacts that predate the ancient holocaust that turned the region (and, presumably, most of the planet) into a desert Waste. When a First Tier Warder hires him to guide her to an already thoroughly picked- over ancient building in the nearby Waste, he ends up involved in a search for stolen relics. Everyone, of course, is after these particular relics, and the quest turns into a panicked race to Save the World.
Post-holocaust novels of every stripe generally irritate me, but City of Bones is original, vivid, and fun. The characters are complex, the dialogue is amusing, and the plot has sufficient switchbacks to make it unpredictable. The Waste isn't your average hostile desert, either; it's a creviced terrain seething with venomous many-legged creepy-crawlies and venomous two-legged pirates.
I strongly recommend City of Bones. But I'd still like to read the book described by the jacket blurbs.
-- Christina Schulman.
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