The Drowning City (The Necromancer Chronicles)
by Amanda Downum
Cover Artist: Larry Rostant
Review by Steve Sawicki
Orbit Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780316069045
Date: 01 September 2009 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Isullt Iskandur is a necromancer and a spy. Sent by the crown to investigate, gather information and foment rebellion, Isullt arrives in Symir, the Drowning City, a place she has never been but one she is destined to know well. Symir is called the Drowning City because of the seeming perpetual rain and because it is built at the Delta of a large river.
Symir is under the grip of Kurun Tam, the mages who keep the volcano which rises beside the city, under check with their sorceries. The Imperial government which runs the city is corrupt and rotting from the inside although not every individual has been touched by this rot. AS Isullt makes more and more contacts she comes to better understand the machinations which keep the city together while threatening to tear it apart at the same time.
This is a fine new fantasy from Amanda Downum. That it is also her first published book just makes it all that more interesting. Downum has a dark sense of the world, which may be why her protagonist is a necromancer although it's always risky to read too much into these things. She establishes her world and her characters without sacrificing plot or movement. As well there is a lot of very creative social development here. The protagonist, Isullt, is both driven to move forward yet inhibited by her past.
I liked this book. The plot seemed fresh, the characters different and engaging, the setting unusual, and the writing driven from beginning to end. The pace is moderate but constantly moving and there are enough sub-plots to keep everything more than interesting. I liked the society that Downum built and the way she moved her characters through it. Overall a very enjoyable first novel and I would look forward to more in this series.