Review: City of Strife – Claudie Arseneault

City of Strife
Book cover: An illustration of the city of Isandor

I was very unsure whether I would enjoy City of Strife or not, because it’s described as a political fantasy. Thus, I thought it would be a really boring and dry story. HOWEVER, it’s amazing. After reading this book, my first thought was: when does the sequel come out?

I decided to read this book (and I’m so glad I did!) because I’d been looking for more fantasy novels that have asexual and_or aromantic characters.

This book is #ownvoices. Claudie Arseneault, the author, also created the Aromantic and Asexual Speculative Fiction Database, which is an amazing place to look for new books to add to your TBR.

This story was really exciting. I don’t know why I thought political fantasy would be boring. I hadn’t seen the term being used before, thus I associated it with political discussions and not with political intrigue. And it is indeed terribly intriguing.

The premise of this story is original and I can’t think of anything quite like it in other fiction books that I’ve read. The world-building is intricate and fascinating. You’ll want to be in Isandor after finishing this book. It’s such a fascinating world. I want to try Larryn’s cooking!

Do you get bored if a fantasy novel about fighting the system focusses on romance all the time – or is that just me? I don’t mind romance in books, however if it starts to be more important than the actual story, I will be disappointed. Romance doesn’t play a large role in this story. Most of the story focusses on establishing the political and societal structure of Isandor, as well as showing who the different characters are and how they relate to each other.

There are multiple third person POVs, which I enjoyed very much. This made it easier for the reader to understand the different motivations and ideas that the characters had. The characters are not stereotypes nor are they one-dimensional. The characters are flawed and make mistakes, which is much better than the common special snowflake narrative.

I hate tokenism in books – i.e. adding a character in a diverse costume to tick off the diversity box. The marginalisations that the characters in City of Strife have influence how they interact with life and the other characters, which makes the representation great. The racial diversity within the magicians, elves and humans was awesome. If you’re expecting a story that discusses and analyses the sexual and romantic orientations of the LGBTQIA+ characters or their other marginalisations, this isn’t it. The marginalisations are mentioned, however they are not the main focus of the story.

I’m hoping that I was able to explain how amazing this book is – because IT IS very amazing. The second book will come out at the end of the year (to my knowledge) and I swear, I am getting this book as soon as possible!

I checked my notes on this book, and realised I only highlighted one section. This proves just how captivated I was with City of Strife.

Trigger warnings are available on the author’s website → here.

You can get a copy at Gumroad (this is an affiliate link).


5 stars

What’s your opinion on City of Strife? Do you want to read it (I really think you should 😀 )?

13 thoughts on “Review: City of Strife – Claudie Arseneault

  1. I had never heard of political fantasy before, but it sounds really awesome!! I also really love multiple POVs, so I think I will really like this!


  2. I’ve heard a lot of good stuff about this one – and we def. need more ace rep, esp. #ownvoices! 🙂


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