Genre: high urban fantasy
Queer Representation: trans lesbian, cis lesbian, bisexuality
Rating: three stars
Kai is called to the city of Agdel Lex, built on the ruins of Alikand, to visit her estranged sister, Ley. Once there, she finds Ley tangled up in an intricate plot to free the city from its oppressors. The sisters must find each other, however, before they can stop the multi-faceted threat.
Generally, this is a heist story in a high fantasy setting (urban fantasy, in that it is more modern, but high fantasy nonetheless). Like a lot of high fantasy it employs many POV characters and rich, deep worldbuilding. It is also an amazing tale of sisterhood, as well as a solid romance book. It’s everything, really, which is amazing. There is no one feeling, nor one trope, that consumes this book. Instead, it is a fully fleshed out story in a world so real you can smell it.
The characters were generally very well rounded and dynamic, but there were just so many of them. I had a hard time keeping the secondary characters straight, especially the ones where we only got to be in their heads for a partial chapter or two. The main characters were generally much more interesting, although my interest in the sisters waned as the story progressed and their friends became more dynamic. By the end of the book I was actually more interested in the tertiary characters than anyone else, and had a hard time staying invested in the plot.
While this is book six in a series, each book can function as a stand alone. This book had been recommended to me many times, and I finally just said to hell with the earlier ones, and read it. I’m not sure if the lack of backstory contributed to my confusion, but I’m going to assume it was at least somewhat to blame.
The first two hundred pages or so were very compelling, and despite not having read the previous five books, I didn’t mind being confused. The language was rich enough and the characters round enough that it was a delightful discovery. The middle of the book started to drag, however, with one mini arc after another, and with the continuing introduction of characters, I found myself lost. The end melded together a bit better, but by page 450 I had lost much of my investment.
The ending was solid, and it was worth getting there, but much like when I read any GAME OF THRONES books, I found myself skipping over POVs I just didn’t care about. So while I enjoyed this book, and it had just about every element I look for in a story, I found it generally to be too long. It would have been an amazing 400 page book, but it ran a bit long in the tooth.
This isn’t to say that lovers of high fantasy wouldn’t enjoy it! I often think high fantasy is just a bit too long, and that the stories should be tighter, but I know many high fantasy fans really want an extended ride. Any lovers of Sanderson’s work would feel at home in RUIN OF ANGELS, as would anyone who doesn’t mind juggling more than five POVs.
In terms of queer rep, one of the sisters is a trans woman. The nod to this is subtle, and no one in-world cares at all, which is amazing. This type of accepted, unquestioned queerness was so wonderful. In addition, there are two strong f/f romance lines through the book, and book were sweet and relatable. This book stands very well on queer rep and queer romance, especially for those who like a sturdy fantasy plot along with their ‘I love yous.’