The whole city is searching for Hasryan—some for revenge and justice, others to save their friends. Yet no one knows where to find him except Lord Arathiel Brasten, who vanished 130 years ago only to magically return.
Lord Diel Dathirii’s struggle to free his city from the neighbouring imperialistic enclave is far from over. Enemies gather around him, and without allies in Isandor’s upper spheres, he must place his fate in Lower City residents. Little does he know, the city he’s trying to save might well save him in return.
City of Betrayal is the second installment of the City of Spires trilogy, a multi-layered political fantasy led by an all LGBTQIAP+ cast. Fans of complex storylines criss-crossing one another, elves and magic, and strong friendships and found families will find everything they need within these pages.
This is a review of the second book of a series but there aren’t any spoilers in it!
I was so hyped about City of Betrayal, because I loved the first book, City of Strife, so much and I couldn’t wait for the sequel. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC and I decided to wait a bit to read it, so that I could enjoy it. After a few days, I couldn’t resist the temptation. I opened the book and was sucked into the story.
This book is #ownvoices for asexual and aromantic representaton.
Claudie Arseneault is an expert in character development and creating fascinating, nuanced and detailled characters. Each one has their own personality, their own character, their own way of speaking and you can see it on page. Also, even though the book is about political intrigue, it isn’t as though the characters are only working towards their goal, they still have hobbies and these hobbies are part of their life. The characters all come alive in your imagination and take you away to Isandor. It’s amazing. We also get to see more of some of the minor characters in this book. For example, Vellien and Isra have really caught my interest now. I’m intrigued to see how their stories continue and hope that I won’t have to wait too long for City of Exile (Book 3). Even though there are many characters in this novel, I never was confused about who was who, or forgot one of the characters. This is the magic of the author’s writing, the characters are not just names on people, they become real in my imagination.
The writing is this book was spectacular once again. The balance between showing and telling is just right. Also, there is a lot of humour inserted into the writing, which I always enjoy.
The world-building is also spot on. There’s just something about Isandor that makes me want to visit the place. I don’t even have a specific place in mind, all of the settings are described so beautifully and magically, that I could imagine visiting an area and being happy to have seen it in real life. The political and societal structure as well as the rules of magic are well-described, and didn’t leave me feeling confused.
One of the main aspects that I love about the City of Spires series is that it take place in a high fantasy setting but most of the main characters aren’t nobility. It shows us the daily lives of the commoners in such a genre, which is something that I do not read often in high fantasy. It is a dystopian novel and there are conflicts, but ultimately it there is a large emphasis on showing the daily lives of the characters.
The City of Spires books are diverse, and have queer, disabled and non-white representation.
Claudie Arseneault’s City of Betrayal was an amazing sequel, and I enjoyed it very much. I recommend this book to all of you, however I do recommend that you start at the beginning of the series with City of Strife.
You can get a copy at Gumroad (this is an affiliate link).
Have you read City of Betrayal? What do you think of the City of Spires series?