Review: The City Stained Red. Bring Down Heaven Book 1 by Sam Sykes

The City Stained Red18516090

640 pages
published in 2015

1. The City Stained Red
2. The Mortal Tally
3. ???


After years in the wilds, Lenk and his companions have come to the city that serves as the world’s beating heart.

The great charnel house where men die surer than any wilderness.
They’ve come to claim payment for creatures slain, blood spilled at the behest of a powerful holy man.

And Lenk has come to lay down his sword for good.
But this is no place to escape demons.

This story centers around a mixed group of so-called adventurers who are on their way to the big city Cier’Djaal to find the man who hired them for their last job and vanished without paying them. The whole story takes place in the City and features a lot of action scenes. Cier’Djaal is on the brink of a war as different fractions are trying to gain power and revive ancient gods. It is sometimes a bit hard to keep track of who is who and who is fighting whom.

Sam Sykes, who is by the way the son of Diana Gabaldon, can definitely write well and the world he describes is quite grim & gritty. We see a lot of blood, a lot of demons, a lot of fights and a lot of gruesome deaths. The only thing thing that’s missing is probably a car explosion^^

Although Sykes uses some stereotypical races in his story, he tries so alter them and make them unique. I liked those bizarre creatures with paintings as faces and the way they behaved. You can see that he put some thought into it. Also, Cier’Djaal is big in silk production and houses giant ass spiders who all seem to be super tame and likeable πŸ˜€
What I didn’t like is that the story is meandering a lot. It often deals with little side stories..and more side stories that don’t bring the story forward but make it a bit confusing. It should have all been a bit more straight forward and not so random. I would have enjoyed it more.

Anyways.. the best part of the book are the characters, the said group of adventurers. It is often noted that adventurers are even worse than mercenaries and you don’t want to mess with them. The leader of the group, Lenk, is a sword fighter who is tired of killing and wants to settle down with the money they are trying to hunt down in the City. Then there’s Kataria, a vicious shict (some kind of elf I think) who is rather temperamental and probably the one I liked the least..

The other members are Gariath, a dragonman, who just hates everyone, Asper, a priestess, Denaos, a thief and Dreadaeleon, a weird wizard. I kinda liked these 4 the most although I thought that Lenk and Kataria were supposed to be the main characters.

Asper tries to help people and be a good person but there is a dark side to her. And Denaos is more than a thief and probably to me the most interesting character. I enjoyed the interactions between him and Asper (and I ship them..). Also, Dread (apart from having a stupid name) is a great character as he is on the one hand a naive child and on the other a mighty powerful, slightly insane wizard. Gariath is just awesome.

The interactions between members of the group are brilliantly written and I would have loved if they stayed together for most of the book. Unfortunately we see them splitting up pretty often.

They definitely stick together in spite of always mentioning that they hate each other. There’s still so much potential for development within the group and I hope we get to see more ‘bonding-scenes’ in the sequel.

This was a really good story, that had it all. Action, funny scenes and dialogues, a bit of romance (although not the one I wanted), some sad moments, surprises in the end..
Just some minor criticism as the story could have been more straight forward and the group members should like each other more πŸ˜€

There’s also another trilogy by the author that takes place before this book and is called Aeon’s Gate. It deals with the same group of people and I will definitely read it as well. But probably only after I finished this trilogy.


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