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Wednesday, 28 October 2015

City of the Snakes by Darren Shan (City Trilogy, #3) - Book Review

4.5/5 Stars

Al will learn more about the City than he ever imagined, and be offered more power than he ever desired.

But in the City, everything comes at a cost...


Edition: Paperback
Pages: 375
Chapters: 27
Publisher: HarperVoyager

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Amazon
                      Author's Website

Review

Ready to enter the fantastical, war-filled City for the final time?

You should be, because it's one helluva conclusion.

Darren Shan manipulates the various genres (the series is a mishmash; it's a thriller, a fantasy, it verges on horror, and it's a step away from the paranormal) with as much ease as he did in this book's two predecessors. It's time for answers, time for every piece of the puzzle to slot together and reveal the big picture. 

And it's a big picture many of the cast won't like...

SPOILER WARNING

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Ten years have passed since Capac Raimi became the new Cardinal.
It's also been ten years since Al Jeery's life was set aflame and he descended into madness, assuming the role of his deceased Dad: A deadly, vicious assassin. 
But the blind priests of the City are unhappy.
Capac and Al refuse to bend to their wishes.
When the former of the two goes missing, Al is dragged back into the fold to find him.
And as the villacs' full intentions become clear, Al has a multitude of choices ahead.
Choices that could end the City forever...

Plot - 4/5 Stars

From the first chapter, Shan tempts you with mystery, the supernatural and cutthroat darkness. It's also morbidly hilarious. From then on we descend into the City on the brink. Events explode and cause chaos the likes we've never seen, and if you've read the first two entries, you'll know I'm talking uber-mondo chaos, because Procession of the Dead and Hell's Horizon are pretty chaotic. 

And you'll love it! There's nothing better than crazy, and Shan does crazy good.

We also need to take a moment to praise just how awesome this series' mythology is. You cannot get a better author to take you on a journey through a decrepit world of gangsters, Incan priests, plans of world domination, elaborate plots and conspiracies, dead people who aren't dead, magic, armies... It goes on and on, and it's all weaved tight. 

Add in some sweet shocks and a sharper focus on the overall story and you're in for a finale.

All that has a little bit of a flip side, though. At times the sheer scale and amount stuffing the story can burden it and the reader. The end, for me, is anticlimactic thanks to it. I don't know what I expected (perhaps some sort of magical ceremony to unite the bloodlines), and what we get is action-packed and satisfying, but I feel the many threads that are woven allude to something bigger than what they eventually end with.

Pace - 4/5 Stars

The plot and events of this entry are thicker than those of the previous books. It's no surprise considering City of the Snakes is coalescing everything to form the conclusion. Parts will take you time, but there are some great sequences that rocket you forward. The action is tense, the mysteries are suspenseful, and the characters carry it all stoically.

Characters - 4.5/5 Stars

Nobody does a cast quite like Darren Shan, and The City Trilogy is no exception. It's rich and full of personalities that reside on both sides of the moral scale. They're all just as diverse as the intricacies of the City itself. Shan's kept up a great consistency and progression for each and every cast member, including those you would class as on the sidelines.

We focus on both Capac and Al, the protagonists from book one and book two respectively, but we focus predominantly on the adventure with Al, and I am so glad! Al is by far the best character, period. The conflicted emotions, the guilt, hopes, fears; it all works wonders to create this compelling and interesting lead. Al suits the City so well and the way he describes himself as a 'son of the City' couldn't be more apt. 

The variety is something I also commend. We get our much-loved Troops: The army that serves The Cardinal; the racist and idealistic Kluxers; and the mostly black, assassin-like Snakes. 

And all of them want to rule!

Yep, you're in for a treat.

Writing - 5/5 Stars

No problems for me here. Straight-up, riveting Shan. 

Overall - 4.5/5 Stars

One last thing I will say is leave City of the Snakes for last when reading this trilogy. The previous two entries can pretty much be read in any order, but this finale draws from both, and you could fall into confusion otherwise.


Previous Instalment: Hell's Horizon


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