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The Divine Cities #3

City of Miracles

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Goodreads Choice Award
Nominee for Best Fantasy (2017)
Revenge. It's something Sigrud je Harkvaldsson is very, very good at. Maybe the only thing.

So when he learns that his oldest friend and ally, former Prime Minister Shara Komayd, has been assassinated, he knows exactly what to do — and that no mortal force can stop him from meting out the suffering Shara's killers deserve.

Yet as Sigrud pursues his quarry with his customary terrifying efficiency, he begins to fear that this battle is an unwinnable one. Because discovering the truth behind Shara's death will require him to take up arms in a secret, decades-long war, face down an angry young god, and unravel the last mysteries of Bulikov, the city of miracles itself. And — perhaps most daunting of all — finally face the truth about his own cursed existence.

451 pages, Paperback

First published May 2, 2017

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About the author

Robert Jackson Bennett

28 books17.8k followers
Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence. City of Stairs was shortlisted for the Locus Award and the World Fantasy Award. City of Blades was a finalist for the 2015 World Fantasy, Locus, and British Fantasy Awards. His eighth novel, FOUNDRYSIDE, will be available in the US on 8/21 of 2018 and the UK on 8/23.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,314 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
675 reviews43k followers
May 4, 2023
By all the Divinities, this was a miraculous conclusion for The Divine Cities trilogy.

We had Shara as the main character in City of Stairs, Mulaghesh in City of Blades, and now for the big conclusion, it’s time for Sigrud je Harkvaldsson to take the central role. It’s been thirteen years since the end of the previous book (eighteen years since City of Stairs) and the story focused around Sigrud as he came out of his self-imposed exile for one last mission of revenge. The blurb for this book is laden with spoilers, so I won’t talk about the plot at all. However, let me say this: I honestly couldn’t be happier to have Sigrud as the main character for this last installment.

Picture: Sigrud je Harkvaldsson by Mblank17

Sigrud has become my favorite character from the trilogy ever since his appearance in the first book, which of course means I’m a bit biased. But looking at it from another perspective, there’s always something new and interesting to learn from his character; his characterizations were superbly written and alluring to read.

“If one were to protest all the injustices of life,” says Sigrud, “great and small, one would have no time for living.”

There are so many reasons—other than Sigrud as the MC—why City of Miracles ended up being my favorite book out of the trilogy. The story was beautifully told with an intimate and mature narrative. The topics discussed relating to family, politics, wars, freedom of choices, and religions were incredibly relatable to our world. The characterizations of every character were compelling, and the intricacy in world building was excellent, and was integrated beautifully into every aspect of the story. Plus, the climax sequences were breathtaking and wrapped up the trilogy magnificently. I seriously can’t think of anything that would make this conclusion even better than it already is. Everything just clicked wonderfully.

“My definition of an adult is someone who lives their life aware they are sharing the world with others. My definition of an adult is someone who knows the world was here before they showed up and that it'll be here well after they walk away from it.

My definition of an adult, in other words, is someone who lives their life with a little fucking perspective.”

Lastly, I’d like to note that I highly enjoyed reading Bennett’s prose. Just look at the two quotes I’ve shared so far! Believe me, I wish I could share with you the tons of beautiful and thought-provoking passages—from each book of this trilogy—I found while reading, but it’s better for you to experience them for yourself. Bennett's prose is extremely well-polished, efficient, immersive, easy to read, and vivid. It's very easy to get transported into his books and his prose also brought incredible results to the action sequences in this trilogy, which in my opinion were all phenomenally engaging and gripping.

“What a tremendous sin impatience is, he thinks. It blinds us to the moment before us, and it is only when that moment has passed that we look back and see it was full of treasures.”

Like that quote I shared, I know reading this trilogy shall be one of those treasured moments. I won’t lie, I didn’t expect this trilogy to be this great; like I said in my City of Stairs review, I even almost took this series off my TBR list because it’s been sitting there collecting dust for more than a year. I’m super happy I didn’t because not only was this utterly satisfying and a very refreshingly original fantasy to read, I’ll even go as far as saying that The Divine Cities trilogy has become one of the best trilogies I’ve ever read.

I binged read this entire trilogy within a week because of how captivating it was, especially City of Stairs and City of Miracles. I completely, with all my heart, recommend this trilogy for anyone who’s looking for a fantastic and original fantasy read featuring superlative world-building, mature main characters (age ranges more or less in 35-70 years old), or seriously, just read this trilogy if you want to read an amazing fantasy series. It’s safe to say that after this, I’m a fan of Robert Jackson Bennett and I’m already looking forward to his newest trilogy, Foundryside. If his newest trilogy ends up being as good as this or even better, he will definitely be one of the newest additions to my small ‘favorite authors of all time’ list.

Series Review:

City of Stairs: 5/5 stars
City of Blades: 3.5/5 stars
City of Miracles: 5/5 stars

The Divine Cities trilogy: 13.5/15 stars

You can find this and the rest of my Adult Epic/High Fantasy & Sci-Fi reviews at BookNest
Profile Image for Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin.
3,469 reviews9,633 followers
May 20, 2017
Well shit . . . . =(

I really didn't want to cry today. Thank you book, thank you Robert Bennett.

First off I wish I would have went back and read the first and second book so I could have been totally immersed in the world. But, it's okay it was perfect just the way it was and it ripped my heart out.

It started with some crying in the beginning when Sigrud found out that Shara had been killed. (it's not a spoiler, read the summary).

Dead. Dead.
He shakes himself, trying to compartmentalize it. He feels tears on his cheeks and shakes himself again.
She can't be dead. She simply can't be.

Sigrud goes on the hunt for Shara's killer. He wants revenge, he wants them dead.

Sigrud finds out that someone is targeting the Divine Children and he must protect Shara's daughter, Taty.

Sigrud has help from different people in the book and Sigrud is just bad to the bone himself. I love him so much.

This was a remarkable journey. These books were just so amazing. The world was beyond amazing. I'm really at a loss for words. The ending of this book was both happy and so freaking sad that I'm still crying. Yeah, I know. How can that be? It just is, read the book. Start with the first book because you really need to read them all to understand what's going on in this world.

I'm hoping to re-read this trilogy this year but I don't know if I want to make it through that ending again so soon. There are just books and characters and things that you love so much and it really packs a punch when things happen. At least to me it does and sometimes happy endings are not so happy. What would be the meaning of reading a book if you didn't feel a thing. . . .

*I received a print copy of this book through BloggingForBooks.*

MY BLOG: Melissa Martin's Reading List

I'm going to go watch something happy on tv now!
June 8, 2020
Actual rating: 30 stars. At least.

This is one of the most amazing books I have ever read in the entirety of my entire life. I don't think I will ever recover from it. I cried. I bloody shrimping cried. This is outrageous. This is scandalous. This is disgraceful. Ergo, this is most absolutely, completely, overwhelmingly, beautifully scrumpalicious.

Robert Jackson Bennett, thank thee kindly. You killed me dead several times over, and I loved every bloody shrimping second of it. Sort of.

Bye now. I shall return. Eventually. Some day. When my City of Miracles Rehab Program (CoMRP™) ends. Please say hi to your great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandchildren for me. AND TELL THEM TO READ THIS BLOODY SHRIMPING SERIES YESTERDAY.

P.S. Sigrud, will you marry me? It's not like you have a choice in the matter, but I thought I'd do the polite thing and ask anyway. You are very welcome, future husband.
P.P.S. Robert Jackson Bennett, will you marry me? Sorry, what? You're already married? And your point is?

· Book 1: City of Stairs ★★★★★
· Book 2: City of Blades ★★★★★

[February 2016]

Do I want to read this? DO I WANT TO READ THIS? Are you freaking kidding me? I wanted to read this book before I was even born. Now hand it over before I get violent.

Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
873 reviews1,762 followers
November 1, 2018
"Power corrupts."

These two words describes this book perfectly. Whenever someone dreams to be powerful there's always dire consequences. In this cut throat struggle to reach the top one just sees the position and not the destruction that he/she leave behind to achieve that dream. And this book is all about being the most powerful, to destroy everything.

The first time I met Sigrud in City of Stairs, I find him peculiar and yet very interesting character. I wanted to know more about him, who was he? what was his powers? and Robert was so stingy with the information about Sigrud. We saw a new side of Sigrud in City of Blades and I was impressed. I must point out here that in both books he was a secondary character. So imagine what havoc he created when he was given a book of his own.

it's been more than a decade since the events of City of Blades and Sigrud is far away from home, spending his days doing petty work, waiting for someone to call him back. The call never came but the news of assassination of that loved one arrives, Sigrud is livid and he wants revenge. But in a world where Gods walks the earth, nothing is so simple. You have to fight the Gods, live through the lies, feel the pain of losing loved one, face the secrets from the past, and fight till you breathe your last breath.

While this book was similar to it's predecessors in terms of story, but I felt it was more personal. First two books, for me, were like murder mysteries. A murder and someone was sent to solve it. Here Sigrud did everything because he wanted to and not because he was ordered to. We saw a softer and vulnerable side of him in City of Blades, here it was on full display. I think Jackson poured out his heart in this character and the emotions were so intense. It was redemption. It was sacrifice. It was fear of losing again what he got just now. It was acceptance. It was death.

End was fitting, yet painful and sad. It was more than I had expected from this book.

Highly recommended, I know I will be suggesting this to whoever asks me about a great fantasy to read.
Profile Image for carol..
1,537 reviews7,880 followers
April 4, 2018
Some authors always manage to surprise me. Bennett is one of them, with each book I've read a very different flavor from the other. Characterized by complex characters, his stories tend to have vivid world-building and plots that explore the relationship between mundane and divine. City of Miracles is the third book set in the Divine Cities, and although one could read and enjoy it perfectly well as a stand-alone, part of the richness in the story comes from the history of both the world-building and the individual characters.

City begins bloodily, shockingly, a definite departure from the ex-Prime Minister Shara's study in City of Stairs, or Mulaghesh's slovenly cottage in City of Blades. It begins with a back-alley killing and then a vicious attack. Sigurd, Shara's bodyguard and comrade in City of Stairs, hears of Shara's assassination while working a logging job in the middle of nowhere. He swears revenge, rapidly makes his way to the city where Shara disappeared, and sets to tracking those responsible.

Stop me if you heard this before.

It's true; Bennett started with classic revenge fantasy, giving it, of course, his own lovely spin on the emotion and the world. Shara is "a woman so esteemed and so notorious and so influential that everyone seems to be waiting on history to get around to judging her so they can figure out how to feel about her tenure as prime minister. A person made of the stuff of legends." The story is very much colored by Shara and her legacy, a point that probably will have the most impact for those who have read the series.

Even more than her political legacy, she was the only person remaining that connected Sigrud to humanity. "He looks down at his hands. Scarred, worn, ugly things-the left, especially, its palm brutally mutilated using a Divine torture method long, long ago. I was only ever meant for one thing, he thinks. He slowly makes fists. The knuckles pop and creak unpleasantly. Meant to practice one art. How just it feels that now I shall do so." It remains brutal while Sigrud seeks his revenge, and only folds into more gentle emotion as he discovers remaining connection to Shara and discovers the project she was working on.

I'm often hooked by the dual plot technique, the immediate mystery with a larger background and unanswered questions. The assassin is soon unmasked, but that only leads to questions about what Shara was working on and who the mastermind is. Is Shara still alive? Like Sigrud, the reader can't quite believe that she is dead. This is the world of miracles, after all, although the age of the Divine seems to be mostly over. When Sigrud decides to (light spoiler) It felt unusually plot/event driven to me, more so because I associate Bennett's writing with detailed character memories, seemingly non-conflict focused events and general world-building. City of Miracles is very exciting and very hard to put down.

A lovely bit of writing that describes the antagonist:

Narrative is largely third-person, focusing on Sigrud, but there are a few character viewpoints shared throughout the story, giving insight into the conflict and the character of the antagonist. Although this technique often annoys me because of its lazy application to escalate tension, in this case Bennett uses it to bring both emotional depth and tragedy to the antagonist. It's one of the fascinating things about Bennett's writing that seems to flavor all his works, that exploration of damage, choice and evil. The ending, while non-unexpected, is sob-worthy. Good stuff.

"Some things even a miracle can't suppress, I guess. Sometimes I wonder if we're little more than walking patchworks of traumas, all stitched together." They sit in silence for a moment, watching the waves churn and roil under the overcast skies.

*Quotes taken from an ARC and may change in the published copy.

And for my friend, Cillian:

Profile Image for Philip.
500 reviews673 followers
July 2, 2017
4.75ish stars.

An appropriately perfect (or at least near-perfect) conclusion to a spectacular trilogy, one that I'm sad to say goodbye to. This has a little bit of everything. Mystery, character building, some insanely cool set pieces (the aerotram!), and all of the emotion one could expect from the climax and eventual denouement.

Bennett has such a talent for getting to the heart of his characters. I never cared much for Mulaghesh until she took the spotlight in City of Blades and I thought Sigrud was overrated until this book. And as devastated as I was at the end of City of Blades, I was much more quietly but no less powerfully so here. Despite being named after The Divine Cities, the series is really all about its three Divine (if not literally) protagonists. The worldbuilding is awesome, but it would be nothing without the Big 3.

Ironic that my initial reaction upon finishing the first two books was that another book was unnecessary and now that the series is finally finished I can't help but wish we could see where things go from here. It ends just right; things aren't perfect, but there are endless possibilities...

Posted in Mr. Philip's Library
Profile Image for TS Chan.
700 reviews868 followers
September 22, 2021
With its stunning denouement in City of Miracles, Robert Jackson Bennett's masterful genre-redefining trilogy is now one of my all-time favourites.

I still bemoaned the fact that I've waited this long to read The Divine Cities.  Well, better late than never and I think I've found a new favourite author with phenomenal talent. As far as I am concerned, this trilogy is an enthralling masterpiece of sublime originality.

I've never read anything quite like this and this is speaking from three decades worth of reading fantasy. From well-known classics like Lord of the Rings, Dragonlance, The Belgariad and The Mallorean, The Riftwar Cycle, The Wheel of Time to modern fare, such as Sanderson's Cosmere (another all-time favourite), The Malazan Book of the Fallen, The Kingkiller Chronicles, Riyria Revelations & Chronicles, Gentleman Bastards, and The Faithful and The Fallen; just to name a few.

Most recently, I have also read a unique take in science fiction-fantasy, The Broken Earth trilogy by N.K. Jemisin, whose last book made its way onto my favourites shelf.  The Divine Cities, however, did much better as I rounded up the first book's rating of 4.5 stars (which in all possibility might get an outright 5-stars upon reread), and the even more spectacular second book immediately became a favourite. 

This was born in blood. It always was. It was born in conquest, born in power, born in righteous vengeance. And that is how it means to end. This is a cycle, repeating itself over and over again, just as your life repeats itself over and over again.

We come to this at the end of three books depicting a cycle of strife, war and discontent. Just as a previous superior race inflicted its dominance over another, the successor sought to never come under oppression again through atrocious means. What can our main protagonists possibly do to try to break this cycle?

The characterisation in this trilogy continues to captivate by staying true to the main characters that we have known since the first volume. We only have a few new introductions which are essential to the story and plot as the lore surrounding the Divinities and miracles are revealed through a gloriously epic apotheosis of events. I couldn't praise Bennett enough for his stellar characters and vividly rich worldbuilding, and even more for his skill in crafting an immensely compelling story with these tools of the trade.

I loved and enjoyed reading about all the main characters from the very first book, but the one that had yet to take centre stage was Sigrud je Harkvaldsson. I was delighted to learn that we are going to conclude this magnificent trilogy with his POV. The story took place thirteen years after the events in City of Blades, and the consequences of Sigrud's actions at the end of that book as well as the cumulative effect of all that he had done in the years as an operative weighed heavily on his psyche. Just like how the character of Mulaghesh was shaped in the reader's mind in City of Stairs and then carried forward into its sequel as the perfect main protagonist for the story therein, Sigrud's propensity for violence, his supernatural skills and ability to survive against all odds that we have seen since the beginning play a significant role in the plot resolution of this concluding volume.

You have a choice, a choice I never did. You have a choice to be different. You, who have defeated many by strength of arms, you will have a moment when you choose to do as you have always done, or you can choose to do something new.

As with most of my reviews at the end of a series, I will keep this relatively short to avoid revealing much of which is better left to be discovered. The conclusion of this trilogy was beautifully bittersweet and emotionally powerful. In short, it was perfection. Everyone who loves fantasy should read this for one of the most original and brilliant creations the genre has to offer. Highly, highly recommended.

You can purchase the book from Blackwells | Bookshop.OrgAmazon UK | Amazon US

You can find this and my other reviews at Novel Notions.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,976 followers
February 7, 2017
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!

It's getting really hard for me to have content-less gushing in certain books. Like this one. I mean, sure, I can say that Shara has been killed and Sigurd is out to avenge/solve her murder, but beyond that, I really can't be as specific as I want to be.

The fact is: SO MUCH AWESOME happens in this book! And I mean crazy awesome. Or absolutely Divine Awesome. :)

Lordy, some of these reveals came right on top of each other's heels and rather than having you expect a simple mystery, I should warn you all that REALLY BIG THINGS HAPPEN. :)

Oh, and for all you lovers of Sigurd: this novel is ALL HIM! YAY! He was always my favorite and he was really subdued in the previous book -(um, sort of, at least until the end) - but this is the book where he really, really shines. Where he lets down his hair and we get all of his checkered past and... oh goodness, no more spoilers. :)

Divine action is everywhere and the epic battles are very epic. One might say, time-consuming. :)

Okay, maybe I'm being a bit TOO cryptic. But still, this hasn't been released! I'm all fanboy over it, however, and that's not going to change.

What a great series! Complicated, dense world-building, truly fantastic characters, and a really twisty awesome plot that always surprises. :)

And we get tons of explosions. :) What more could you want?
Profile Image for Choko.
1,203 reviews2,583 followers
May 20, 2017
*** 5 ***

A buddy read with my comrades @ BB&B!!! Because some books you can only read while your friends hold your hand....

I cannot say a word about the content of this book. Everything would be a spoiler, and if you have read the previous two books, you have an idea of the world. If not, don't start with this book - you have to read the previous two in order, they are not to be read as stand alones, despite every story being separated from the previous by many years in time. The time only serves as giving us perspective of the tremendous influence on the world and everyone in it every action of our favorite characters has in the big scheme of things. But the passage of time also grounds this world full of miracles and divinities by reminding us that time stamps everything and everyone with its gifts as well as its degradations... Humans grow, learn, age, die... Youth is strong and fast and optimistic, but so easily lead into trouble and danger, youth could benefit so much from the adults' experience and knowledge...

"..." You can not inflict virtue on the world! You can not..."

Bennett is a genius! In this bleak and heartbreaking third book in the series, Bennett finds a way once again to firstly create a world of imagination, and secondly, bring this foreign world to us in a way which not only we can relate to, but even in its impossibility manages to mirror the issues we and our world deal with every day!!! And the writing!!!! He is one of the handful of contemporary authors who keeps my faith in smart and impactful writing alive! In the age of self-publishing and the trends of angsty, telling-not-showing and spoon-feeding emotions, he is one of those who still counts on the narrative to tell the story and has the strength of plot to carry it out. The story telling is deliberate and the impact on the reader is powerful. I am not sure how to express the gratitude I have to those authors who still take their creative world building as seriously as we the readers deserve, and I want them to know that we appreciate their work deeply. THANK YOU ❤!

As I said earlier, I will recommend this series to anyone who likes thoughtful writing and is willing to truly concentrate on the book. The payoff, despite being very emotional and painful at times, is absolutely worth it. I vow to read everything this author comes out with, and I really hope I have many friends to share the experience with!

Now I wish you all Happy Reading and may you always find what you need in the pages of a Good Book!!!
Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews223 followers
October 17, 2017
Book 1: 3.5*
Book 2: 3.25*
Book 3: 4.25*

By far my favorite book of the series and not simply because it was the climax. The writer developed a much better sense of pacing in this book and it flowed from start to finish. Even when it wasn't an action scene there was tension and/or a very empathetic reason for that scene.

One of the better urban fantasy series I've read. The series starts in a quasi steampunk era and flows into a modern era. I liked the uniqueness of the transition both of the world and the characters.

The ending was a great convergence and a couple of nice surprising twists. I look forward to his next set of works.
Profile Image for Mayim de Vries.
577 reviews830 followers
May 3, 2018
“In the Divine days it was the purpose of the gods to shape the reality of the world’s citizens.
The gods are gone. But this need remains.
Now it is the task of governments to tell their citizens what reality is, to define it for them. For citizens are, by and large, wholly incapable of doing this for themselves.”

City of Stairs elevated me onto the cloud number 9. I loved the city of Bulikov, I loved Shara, the MC and the focal point of the tale, I loved all the story arcs and their total disregard for genre boundaries. City of Blades was like a stiletto in my kidney; something not quite lethal yet outside the average spectrum, memorable albeit in a painful way. City of Miracles should have given me wonders. What it did, it made me wonder why I didn’t love it as much as I had hoped.

Partially, it might have been because of Sigrud je Harkvaldsson. The story starts with Shara’s untimely death and Sigrud’s coming to the rescue revenge. Throughout the series, Ashara Komayd has grown as one of the most controversial political figures, a woman so esteemed and so notorious and so influential that she was simultaneously beloved and hated, and as an agent of power, she had equally powerful enemies. But as a true politician she has always been making plans even, and maybe especially, for the future she would not see and as a true operative, she has always planned for several variants with various variables factored in that allowed her to make other people do her dirty work. Previously she used Mulaghesh, now it is her Dreyling, preternaturally talented at survival and at killing things. The problem is that the best part of Sigrud was Signe . The quiet killing machine, grim enforcer skulking in the shadows of the main plot was never my favourite character. A deadly brute with a tragic past. Spare me.


Many things can be said about Sigrud, but subtlety is not one of those. The subtlety along with everything else needed for a successful covert operation, that was Shara. Sigrud’s response to the divine and the miraculous “has always been to hit it with something very durable as hard as he can, preferably in the face—if it has a face”. Luckily, there is a war going on under the skin of normality so he is right in his element.

Sigrud’s narrative is done superbly. Short sentences, frequent one-liners. Introvert and reflexive without getting philosophical. Intelligent without sounding smart-ass. Very credible characterisation of an old man who forged a compass from his sorrow, and let it lead him ahead, somebody who torments very close to his heart in hope that they will rekindle his many grievances and keep him warm enough to keep going. Where to? From one death to another. And onwards.

I liked the characterisation but also appreciated the fact that Mr Bennett uses his assets, skilfully moving the tertiary elements from previous instalments into the foreground and playing out their potential. Ivanya is one such. So is Taty, Shara’s adoptive daughter. In general, the team consisting of one Dreyling killer, one continental millionaire and one sheltered bookish girl is brilliant and I liked their banter and how they cooperated together.

“I will have you know,” says Ivanya indignantly as she rejoins them in line for the aero-tram, “that I have never bribed anyone in my life.” She hands them their tickets.
“There is a first time for everything,” says Sigrud.
“How much did you have to give them?” asks Taty, looking at hers.
Ivanya says a number.
“Wow,” says Taty.
“Wow,” says Sigrud, who has never thought of money in such sums before.”

As to why is the book a miracle that somewhat backfires, the first reason is obvious: as before, the story follows a beaten track of a confrontation with an enemy that turns out to be an emanation of the divine. Really, I am not spoiling anything, it is that predictable. Our main opponent is formidable and pathetic at the same time; one of the weakest points on the whole book.


My list of grievances also includes the fact that we do not have a new city to dive into; we merely revisit some old venues, most of all Bulikov which is both nice (because I love the old Bulikov) and oddly disappointing (because I’d love to experience a new divine city). Furthermore, the plot-twists are awfully predictable and the whole story takes a decisively urban fantasy flavour. Modernity is coming and progress is already here. The UF crowd might welcome this change, I mourned everything modern and organised encroaching upon the old magic. The new inventions, kind of steampunk mixed with early industry era ambiance transformed the miraculous and divine into shadows of a bygone era, a bruise in reality.

“To lose someone you loved is one thing. To lose someone you loved but never truly knew is another”

My impression was only exacerbated by the motif of lost love, of passing time taking with it all we cherish the most. “What puzzles the dead are…[t]hey take so much of themselves with them, you’re not even sure who you’re mourning. It’s unfair that the dead leave us…[b]ut it’s worse that they never really go away”. Shara’s death is a grand finale in Sigrud’s personal drama: one by one he loses all the things that one saves for, that one builds for, that one lives for. Death is his only guiding star.

Still, in spite of this depth, I would have thought the whole ending convenient and bordering on cheesy if it wasn’t for the fact that the book ends with the biggest miracle of all: the thought that average, everyday people can shape reality. In doing so Mr Bennett defied the unchanging nature of power . He shattered the vicious circle. Hats off.

Other Divine Cities:

1. City of Stairs
2. City of Blades
Profile Image for Deborah Obida.
673 reviews604 followers
July 4, 2020
A great conclusion to an awesome series. City of Miracles is my favourite book in this series. There are some things I'd love to change in this book but those things made me love this book more.

This book focuses so much on what people do with power. Lots of people claim they will do better than those in power, but when they do get in power they become worse than those before them. This book discussed that explicitly.

The events in this book happened thirteen years after City of Blades, that's eighteen years after City of Stairs. Despite the time jump the plot execution and writhing was superb. This book is diverse, there's love, friendship, feminism and action packed.

The world building is amazing(I need synonyms for this) love the depictions of both the environment, characters and fight scenes. Just like the first two books this one is also written in multiple narratives with the protagonist(Sigrud in this one) having more POV than the rest.

My definition of an adult is someone who lives their life aware they are sharing the world with others. My definition of an adult is someone who knows the world was here before they showed up and that it’ll be here well after they walk away from it.
My definition of an adult, in other words, is someone who lives their life with a little fucking perspective.

Sigrud is the protagonist and also my favourite character in the entire series. Sigrud is on a self imposed exile and also running from the authorities because of what he did in the previous book. But he left it all for vengeance when he heard about Shara's death. A simple vengeance became more when a divine is involved. This book said a lot about who Sigrud is, the more I got to know him the more I loved him, despite all he has been through he never gave up. Oh he also didn't age, he looks just like he did in the first book because of the finger of Kolkan.

Ivanya Restroyka is also here, I know most people won't remember her. She is the beautiful socialite woman that was engaged to Vohannes in book one. She never recovered from what happened in Bulikov. She's now a hermit, she also befriended Shara. She is brave, loyal and courageous.

Tatiyana Komayd aka Taty the adopted daughter of Shara is a mini Shara. She is brave like her mother. She is such a wonderful young woman, Shara did a good job with her.

Mulaghesh was here but just for a small part. There are also other awesome and memorable character. Nokov the villian is one of said one, it's sad that he is just a lost child.

The plot even though similar to that of the first two books this one is way better. After Sigrud killed Shara's killer he opened a can of worms. The Divine that caused her death wants to get his hands on Taty her daughter. Sigrud considers himself a failure because he wasn't there for Signe and Shara when they needed he the most. So not only is he on bodyguard duty he also wants to kill this Divine whose power is night and Shadow.
Profile Image for Terence.
1,114 reviews345 followers
March 11, 2017
Thirteen long years Sigrud je Harkvaldsson has waited. He has waited to hear from his friend Shara Komayd that it is finally ok for him to come home. Sigrud's hopes are snuffed out like a candle when he learns Shara has been assassinated. Sigrud decides to find and make those responsible for her murder pay...it does not matter if they are man or divine.

City of Miracles was an excellent conclusion to The Divine Cities trilogy. I have to admit I wasn't sure if I was really interested in reading it as I wasn't overly fond of City of Blades. Once I learned the story centered around Sigrud I had to read it. Sigrud was an excellent protagonist. His dogged determination and surprising cunning make him a man that no sane person would wish to fight.

The storytelling excelled in City of Miracles. The author laid the groundwork for much of what happened in City of Stairs. Many questions I hadn't truly considered asking were answered and new mysteries unfolded smoothly throughout the book.

There is so much I wish I could say about City of Miracles, but I won't because I don't want to remove the slightest part of the mystery for anyone. City of Miracles may be my favorite book in the series.

4 out of 5 stars

I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Celeste.
908 reviews2,342 followers
September 5, 2018
You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.

City of Miracles is a stunning accomplishment; it is a marvelous ending to what I now consider my favorite trilogy, and a fast-paced, addictive story in its own right.

“One should not seek ugliness in this world. There is no lack of it. You will find it soon enough, or it will find you.”

Sigrud je Harkvaldsson was one of my favorite side characters in both City of Stairs and City of Blades, and I was both incredibly excited and more than a little nervous to read his story. Sometimes when a side character becomes the focal point of the story, they seem to lose a bit of their appeal for some reason. That was definitely not the case here. Sigrud has a wealth of experiences under his belt, most of them not good ones. Those experiences have shaped him into the man he is today, for better or for worse. He feels that he really only excels at one thing: violence. Once again, he finds himself in a position calling for violent action, and he revels in it. Until he doesn’t. Sigrud grows so much throughout this book, and I loved seeing him learn from past mistakes and struggle with his past and who that past made him.

“But violence is a tool that, if you use it but once, it begs you to use it again and again. And soon you will find yourself using it against someone undeserving of it.”

While reading the first two books in this trilogy, I kept thinking that Sigrud reminded me of someone, though I could never put my finger on it. In City of Miracles we get to see into his mind, and I finally figured out who Sigrud is reminiscent of, at least in my opinion. He reminds me of Frankenstein’s Monster, the nameless noble savage who cannot seem to separate beauty from brutality. Because there is definitely nobility within Sigrud je Harkvaldsson, but that nobility has been hardened by a lifetime of violence. Sigrud’s tortured inner monologue also reminded me of the Monster, as both struggle within themselves to break free of the savage cycle in which they reside.

“To live with hatred,” says Sigrud, “is like grabbing hot embers to throw them at someone you think an enemy. Who gets burned the worst?”

Mourning has become a way of life for Sigrud. He has lost everything, both through the machinations of fate and the works of his own hands. But he suddenly finds himself in a role of leadership, and must help others deal with the same pain. How do you lose everyone you love and not let it turn you bitter? Or, if it does, how do you let go of that bitterness and move past it? How do you make that pain into a reminder to enjoy what you do have to the fullest, instead of letting it blind you to everything except what you’ve lost?

“What a tremendous sin impatience is, he thinks. It blinds us to the moment before us, and it is only when that moment has passed that we look back and see it was full of treasures.”

I don’t want to discuss plot here, except to say that the one within these pages was excellent. I was afraid going in that this installment would be lacking the mystery element that so drew me into the first two books, because of the spoiler in the synopsis. (If you haven’t read this series, don’t read the synopsis! Go in as blind as you can. Trust me.) And for the first third or so, it seemed that I was right. This book felt more straightforward than the others. But I needn’t have worried. There were definitely mysteries and surprises to be had. I love that these books were so unpredictable.

“A better world comes not in a flood, but with a steady drip, drip, drip. Yet it feels at times that every drop is bought with sorrow and grief.”

This book also gave me one of the most satisfying endings to a book or trilogy I have ever had the pleasure of reading. It was powerful and moving and just exactly right. I read it through tears, which I think is one of the highest compliments I can pay a book. The only ending I remember ever moving me to this extent is that in one of my favorite books, Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis.

“Death, as you know, had to die to understand death. War had to lose in order to understand victory.”

One of the things I love most about this trilogy is how well each book can stand on its own. I would of course strongly recommend reading all three books, and reading them in order. But if someone were to stumble upon the second or third installment and read that first, not realizing that it was part of a larger story, I feel that they could still appreciate it and enjoy it for what it is outside of its counterparts.

“We are all of us but the sum of our moments, our deeds.”

I can’t recommend this series enough. It is a perfect blending of multiple genres. It is a vivid, potent, multifaceted story. It is comprised of rich, broken characters, who have the benefit of years instead of youth to make them more compelling. It is original and unique and moving. It’s a story that will stay with you long after you read the final page.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,228 reviews2,057 followers
November 28, 2017
Quite a few people have said in their reviews (and I totally agree) that this book makes them want to go back and read the whole series through again. It is really that good!

How could I ever have guessed that Sigrud would make such a splendid hero. After all he is an old man now and past his prime, but the author plays a clever trick . You have to read it to find out what:) The other characters are all excellent too, some of them from previous books and some of them new. I especially enjoyed the Divine Children many of whom had heart breaking story lines.

I am not sure why I enjoy these books so much. I think there is something very magical about the way the author sets his scenes and build his characters. He also knows how to build to a climax and the last part of this book positively gallops to a massive conclusion with a sad but sweet final page.

I think this is supposed to be a trilogy. I believe it is over. However if the author wants to write another in the series.........I will certainly be at the front of the queue to read it:)
Profile Image for Hannah.
592 reviews1,052 followers
October 8, 2017
This was absolutely bloody fantastic. Robert Jackson Bennet managed to somehow add even more layers to an already layered series, enough so that I contemplated re-reading the first two books just to able to appreciate them even more. It is an impressively wonderful trilogy and a world I am very sad to have to leave.

This third and last book of this marvelous trilogy follows Sigrud; after the events of the previous book he has lived off the grid when the news of death reach him and he decides to do what he considers he does best: revenge. While he was more at the sidelines in the earlier books, he now takes centre stage and the book's structure represents this.

I adored this: I found Sigrud's journey fascinating and him as a character wonderfully well-rounded and flawed, which is especially brilliant because he could have so easily become a walking trope. I am not usually a fan of the brooding, suffering, angry protagonist but him I adored. His development over these three books is believable and heartbreaking. Every single one of his actions, even the brutal ones, is infused with neverending sadness. He often acts without thinking and as a reader we follow: it is only in the aftermath of slaughter that Sigrud (and in extension the reader) pauses to consider that these were people, people with families of their own. There are no easy answers here and this is a big strength of this book and of Sigrud as the main focus. But even in all this sadness and horror, there is a sense of hope, of maybe finding a way to survive just for another day and another chance at making amends.

This is a very clever series, one that trusts its readers to think along and I love that in books. I had some things figured out in advance this time and could appreciate how brilliant the pieces were out in place. Still, even knowing what was to come in parts, this packed such an emotional punch when the big finale came along.

Very very worthy final book of a brilliant series.

First sentence:
"The young man is first disdainful, then grudgingly polite as Rahul Khadse approaches and asks him for a cigarette."
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,232 reviews1,016 followers
June 28, 2017
5 stars for all 3 entries into this trilogy. Really, this story is just so good. Complex, believable characters that the reader really cares about, great plotting, and a wonderful balance between small yet heartbreaking details and dramatic, world-shattering events - in a consistently interesting, surprising world. Everything I want from my fantasy adventure!

This story begins 20 years after the events of City of Blades. The Viking-berserker-esque Sigrud has been in hiding for all those years, staying under the radar, evading authorities, and hoping that someday the former Prime Minister Shara will use her influence to clear his name and summon him back to her side. His hopes turn out to be in vain when the news reaches him at the camp where he's working as a lumberjack that Shara has been killed in a terrorist attack.

With nothing left to lose, Sigrud heads back to the city, regardless of all its dangers, to find out who killed the person he cared most about in this world, and to seek revenge. The plot he uncovers is not as straightforward as he expected; and much has changed during his reclusive years. Unexpectedly, Sigrud discovers he might have a cause and a reason worth staying alive for - at least for now.

Highly, highly recommended. But start with "City of Stairs" to give yourself a chance to be sucked into the history of this world and to fall in love with its people.

Many thanks to NetGalley and Crown for the opportunity to read. As always, my opinions are unaffected by the source of the book.
Profile Image for Algernon (Darth Anyan).
1,496 reviews962 followers
December 6, 2017

Come into the night, and I will show you greatness!

Robert Jackson Bennett is writing one of the greatest ongoing fantasy series today, and I somehow wish I didn't read this third installment right after the even more amazing and emotionally wrenching "Stone Sky" by Jemisin. What is at first glance a superhero action romp with a badass killer machine (Sigrud) going on a quest to avenge the assassination of his former master and only friend, Ashara Komayd, slyly morphs into a challenge of the way we look at and interact with the world as a species.

note: might contain slight spoilers further on ...

The adrenaline rush, the puzzle quest, the big canvas of epic conflict are all there in the story, but it is the fallible human heart that makes its true greatness. Sigrud is a great lead for the contradiction between his rage and his pain. The horror elements are not there for cheap thrills, they are the tool to strip the thin veneer of civilization from our complacency and plunge us into the primordial, and proverbial, soup.

The night itself. The purest idea of it, the first night.
The first night humanity experienced. Before light, before civilization, before your kind named the stars. That's what he is, that's how he works. He is darkness, he is shadows, he is the primeval manifestation of what's outside your windows, what's beyond the fence gate, what lives under the light of the cold, distant moon ... All darknesses are one to him. All shadows are one to him. That was his function, as a child of the Divine.

The Adversary is all powerful, and all pissed off at both the humans who tried to imprison and torture him, and at the Divine entities who were to scared of his potential to allow him to grow up unmolested. Because this Adversary happens also to be a child, a tantrum throwing teenager abandoned by parents and rejected by his peers. So now He is out to get them. All of them ...

The best way to explain the magic system in Bennett's "Divine Cities" setting is to reference another favorite : "Sandman" by Neil Gaiman. We are dealing here with anthropomorphic metaphysical concepts, powerful entities that can alter reality on a whim yet remain human in their emotions and interactions with each other. In this third book, with the original five major Divinities already killed in the civil war, the magic potential of the universe is transferred to their numerous offspring, one of whom is trying to gather it all in his dark hands for nefarious purposes.
The fate of the whole universe ultimately lies in the bloodied hands of one individual, Sigrud je Harkvaldsson, himself unsure if this sorry mess of a world is worth saving. He's the proverbial lone wolf / silent hunter, a man of few words and harsh actions, yet on his quest he must take care of another angsty teenager with a grudge against the society that killed her adoptive mother, the same Shara Komayd. Tatyana Komayd might have her own divine powers, but she is too busy sulking to investigate.

What a tremendous sin impatience is. It blinds us to the moment before us, and it is only when that moment has passed that we look back and see it was full of treasures.

I think that's enough pointers to the plot. It's better to let readers discover for themselves what makes the world worth saving.
Or not.

This was born in blood. It always was. It was born in conquest, born in power, born in righteous vengeance. And that is how it means to end. This is a cycle, repeating itself over and over again, just as your life repeats itself over and over again. We must break the cycle. We 'must'. Or else we doom future generations to follow in our footsteps.

Finally, I hope there will be more books in the series, although one cycle is clearly ending here. But change (and hope) is hardwired into our existence, and who knows, maybe the next book will be even better than this one.

Profile Image for Mogsy (MMOGC).
2,034 reviews2,605 followers
May 3, 2017
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2017/05/03/...

Robert Jackson Bennett is back with the third installment of his Divine Cities sequence, and so ends one of the most brilliant and extraordinary fantasy series in recent times. First, we were introduced to this incredible world of Divinities and miracles in City of Stairs, joining protagonist Shara Komayd as she fearlessly stood against a god. That was soon followed by the even more impressive City of Blades, a thrilling mystery starring the indomitable General Turyin Mulaghesh. And now, with The City of Miracles focusing on the fan favorite Sigrud je Harkvaldsson, the trifecta is finally complete.

When I first read the synopsis though, my reaction was pure shock. Our beloved Shara Komayd, the character who was the glue that held this series together, dead? Surely it had to be a mistake. Or a trick. But that is indeed the way the story starts, with the news of Shara’s assassination being the catalyst that sparks Sigrud into action. For years he had been living alone in hiding, silently punishing himself for the brutal crimes he had committed. However, Shara’s murder changes everything. To avenge his dearest friend, he would return from his self-exile and risk his life to hunt down those responsible.

But the investigation soon leads Sigrud to uncover a lot more behind Shara’s death. Someone very powerful had arranged for her assassination in order to get their hands on some dangerous knowledge, for Shara had been working on a secret project right before she was killed. Not even her closest friends and allies had any idea what she was up to, but there were just enough clues left behind for Sigrud to find the next step. To his dismay, they lead him to a list, on which the name of Shara’s own daughter appears. Clearly, the girl is in danger, but no one has known the whereabouts of Tatyana Komayd since even before her mother’s assassination. Shara had made sure to keep her daughter safely hidden away from the public eye, but unfortunately, those protections are about to come under threat. To keep Taty safe, Sigrud must find her before the enemy gets to her first, but how does one keep ahead of enemy who is quite literally everywhere?

This might come as no surprise, but once again, character development was the clear standout for me. Before I continue though, I must confess, I’d never really been that taken with Sigrud. While I have nothing against the character, it has always mystified me why he is so popular. After all, it’s not like the fantasy genre is lacking in large, hulking berserker types who always come off as calm, quiet, and collected—until they are not. Sigrud is a great character, but just…nothing special. Sure, we saw slight character growth from the first book to the second, but that was still not quite enough to convince me he’s that much more than another cookie-cutter archetype. Hence this is why City of Miracles delighted me. Here, not only are we given a deeper, more intimate look into Sigrud’s inner workings, we also get to witness how he is ultimately transformed by the experience. He might have not reached Mulaghesh-levels of awesomeness, true—but I was still nonetheless impressed with the evolution of his story arc.

Next, I must praise the excellent plot. Following the trend set by the previous books, City of Miracles is another blend of fantasy and mystery, leavened with a dash of action and suspense. Calling it a revenge story might be accurate, but it also belies the complexity behind Sigrud’s mission. His hunt for Shara’s killers is only the tip of the iceberg; discovering what his old friend was up to—and how her secret project ties into the fate of Continent itself—is the real meat of this tale. The mystery is also constantly shifting into thriller territory, and one of my favorite scenes even reads like something straight out of Mission: Impossible. I love the way Bennett combines all the different themes, taking the trappings of traditional fantasy and giving them a modern makeover. The Divine aspect is also further explored in this one, and the revelations to come out of it are epic to say the least.

Of course, there’s a lot more I can say about the story, and especially about the new characters, but I’m afraid anything more would be risking spoilers. Suffice to say it was a good book, and though City of Blades still holds the distinction of being my favorite of the series, City of Miracles was certainly no slouch either. Only time will tell if the author will ever return to this world, but for what it’s worth, there’s a strong sense of closure to this one. If this is indeed the end, there’s no doubt in my mind that The Divine Cities got the send-off truly worthy of its scope, imagination, and impact. I will be looking forward to Bennett’s next project with great enthusiasm.
Profile Image for Nathan.
399 reviews123 followers
April 25, 2017
Fantasy Review Barn

A boy chases laughter through the city. Followed by a presence he can't see the boy keys in on laughter, any laughter, and throws himself desperately toward it looking for shelter or a way out. In a land once ruled by miracles the unnamed boy uses the only one he has at hand hoping for it to prove useful just one more time. And when finally hitting a laughter that rings a bit false...

Well that is where City of Miracles really begins.

One of the finest fantasy series of the decade is getting its conclusion. And with it some major questions will finally be answered, especially those surrounding Sigrud, a character who always stole the reader's attention but never was able to get out of the other protagonists' shadows. But City of Miracles doesn't lazily ride off into the sunset, oh no. In City of Miracles the action is turned all the way up, all the feels are given at regular doses, and (spoiler alert) there are miracles abound. Yes, questions will be answered. And a whole wide world of questions will be left to wonder about.

This has been a series in which every book felt like it belonged in the same series yet all were very different in tone. City of Stairs had action but was more focused on the mystery and a real sense of wonder. City of Blades somehow ups the mystery and politics. And City of Miracles feels like a summer blockbuster until one looks back and realizes it couldn't never work without the reader already being invested in the wonder and magic of the world.

This works for and against the narrative in some ways. It is a very different feel than the first two books and it is almost jarring to jump right into the action. Sigrud is a tougher character to follow and relate too than either Shara or Turyin Mulaghesh before him; his near invulnerability compared to their very human nature is not always endearing. And while those all important explanations eventually come I found that I preferred Sigrud when the more diminutive Shara was still the most dangerous person in the scene.

BUT, and this is a big but, those reservations I had eventually were for naught. And it would take major spoilers to explain why but Sigrud's humanity does start to show, and eventually becomes the key to everything. City of Miracles isn't necessarily a tear-jerker but the emotions do start to run high. And while the action never really slows it is always action with intelligence; each scene builds on the last and each piece of information Sigrud and his supporting cast learns will be needed to stop the new threat.

What a threat it is too. Villains have not really been present in this series before. The Gods were slaves to their nature; capable of much destruction but just as tied to the people expectations as they were to their own whims. But the new threat is certainly evil. World destroying evil. Yet even this creature, most evil seen in the series, has just enough humanity to make a reader hope for redemption

As a series conclusion City of Miracles was all I could hope for in a series I never wanted to see end. Though City of Stairs has remained my favorite of the trilogy each successive book has added much to the story. Sigrud dominates the page but both Shara and Mulaghesh (plus some important newish characters) get their own successful conclusions. And I can't help think I am due for an entire series reread sometime in the very near future.

4 Stars
Profile Image for Ivan.
365 reviews56 followers
May 4, 2017
The last decade or so brought us very few truly remarkable fantasy books, and even fewer that have helped to move the genre in the new directions. Science fiction has seen its decline as well, but that's another story. Of course, although fantasy is paradoxically younger genre than science fiction, it relies far more on the tropes established by fairy tales and mythology, so it's quite difficult to find some new and unexplored waters to sail through on this tired old sea.

To make things more difficult, the last decade has seen the rise of grimdark - as dictated by both the strong demand from the readership and equally strong marketing gimmicks by the publishers which led to grimdark becoming the predominant voice of the authors, so that the market for non-grimdark fantasy has become seemingly smaller than ever before.

Rare are the authors who have successfully managed to offer something different than grimdark and not infantile. It goes without saying that Robert Jackson Bennett is one of those authors.

His writing style remains a bit heavy throughout entire trilogy, which is particularly expressed in his tightly condensed and packed sentences. His use of "says" instead of more common "said" frequently acts almost as a slap in the face and forces the reader to pay more attention, to think about what he or she just read. In a way, City trilogy is written like a modern novel, which is strangely appropriate, since it drags the reader into the fantasy equivalent of modern age.

The main (tragic) character of this story is a stark reminder of the epic past of both the world of the City of Miracles and earlier books and of the genre that the trilogy belongs to. He is GDAF, as the popular expression goes, and belongs on the pages of novels by Abercrombie and Martin. His doom or wyrd is upon him and he grows with it, falls with it and eventually transforms both himself and the wider world around him.

This trilogy can be read as an urban fantasy adventure, which of course it is, but it offers much more to a discerning reader. It is one of the redeeming jewels of the fantasy genre and it should be enjoyed as such.
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,608 reviews1,481 followers
March 17, 2019
It is rare the I like the final book of a series more than the others and rarer still to love every book in the entire series, but that is exactly what happened for City of Miracles.

City of Stairs ✯✯✯✯✯
City of Blades ✭ ✭ ✭ ✭


The bigger surprise is that I feel that for a series with almost no romance of any kind in it *gasp*, I know but there is just something about this world and the character in it that grabbed me deep inside and I’m so glad I’ve been able to read and be a part of this story.

This trilogy spanned decades and that is what makes it all the more special. We see characters at various stages of their lives and it is easy to believe how much they have changed and been through because of the time factor of it all. Every character is fantastic and flawed, they are doing the best with what has been given to them and you see how closely they are knit together even after spending years apart.

I loved how City of Miracles brings the story full circle. Sigrud, Shara and Mulagesh are a cut above the rest as characters go and this seemed the perfect conclusion to all of their stories. I might have ended up in tears a few times in this series but they were well earned tears


RBJ is now on my autobuy list and I will trust in his series vision to be complete, well thought-out, exciting and engaging. I love that all of his characters have a purpose and they aren’t even close to perfect but you can’t help but love all of them anyway.

Sigrud je Harkvaldsson you are one of my all time favorite characters and I’m so sad to leave you at the end of this series.
Profile Image for Wick Welker.
Author 5 books341 followers
January 16, 2021
One of the most satisfying conclusions I've ever read.

Wow. That was freaking good. RJB pretty much wrote the perfect conclusion to his speculative trilogy, The Divine Cities. I feel totally satisfied and at peace with how this ended. I walked away with a feeling of awe and melancholy. Sigrud is one of my favorite characters I've ever read. Not only is he a badass that never gives up, but he has heart and soul. Sigrud is so wholly honest and lonely, relatable and loyal. Shara is also a beautify written character. She is smart, fierce, intelligent and compassionate. The relationship between Shara and Sigrud is something tender and extraordinary.

This is one of the coolest worlds I've read in fantasy. It's a concrete culture and society, a well defined government and class system. YET, it's also crazy fantastical and magical. The lore of the Divinities breathes an arcane tension to every setting, every action, every motivation. RBJ plays with the magic with great creativity but also somehow keeping it within the bounds that are set. It's one of the most creative worlds I've ever read.

The social commentary really comes out in this third installment. Themes about power, classism, racism and tradition start to clarify what these books are really about. The infinite cycle of power and transition of power shows the utter futility of believing that those in power will positively change anything. The ending was seriously beautiful and not expected. Also, did I mention that RJB knows how to write? This guy's prose is concise, elegant and full of humor.

There are a lot of things that make this trilogy, and this third book, so good. If I had to put my finger on why this is so compelling, I would say it's because it's one of the most unpredictable stories I've ever read. From book to book, I was surprised and delighted at what the focus was, who the characters were and what motivated them. Completely void of being formulaic, The Divine Cities keeps the reader engaged because the story is messy and tangential while guiding you along to a final point.

This series is totally amazing. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,012 reviews1,332 followers
February 5, 2023
City of Stairs ★★★★
City of Blades ★★★★
City of Miracles ★★★★ 1/4

Best in the series and my favorite book by the author so far!
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
996 reviews1,134 followers
April 14, 2019
The last book of the Divine Cities trilogy… I knew this would be emotional, because this might just be my favorite fantasy series of all time (and the two previous installments did get me all chocked up) but also because I saw all those reviews that seemed to indicate people scream-cried their way through this conclusion… So I braced myself and dove in anyway, because I love Robert Jackson Bennett’s world building and magic system, his complicated, strong and flawed characters who try to do the right thing so hard, his philosophical storytelling and beautiful prose…

Reader, I cried too. The end of this book simply gutted me.

Sigrud lost a lot of things in his life: his title, his home, his daughter… After the tragic events of “City of Blades” and his *ahem* reaction to Signe’s death, he had no choice but to go in exile in an isolated region of Bulikov, under a false name, in order to stay safe. He spent thirteen years this way, waiting for Shara, spunky and clever former Prime Minister Shara, to reach out and tell him she finally needs him back. But then he learns of her assassination… Sigrud’s unwavering loyalty to Shara is not diminished by her death, and he vows to find out why his friend died and who is responsible for the terrorist act that claimed her life.

Did anyone else immediately think, “Revenge rampage!! This is going to be awesome!”, or is that just me? Shara pissed a lot of people off when she was Prime Minister, so finding out who hated her enough to want her dead is a complicated puzzle for Sigrud to solve. And even when he begins to find answers, they only lead to more questions, and a side of this world he wasn’t prepared for is eventually revealed to him. Through what may just be his most dangerous mission yet, he also struggles with his conscience and deep regrets over the things he’s done in the past.

I’ve gotten to know and love Sigrud over the course of these books, the intimidating Dreyling who is so much more than a lean, mean ass-kicking machine. He is in fact a man filled with sadness, and Shara kept him from sinking for so many years that he inevitably feels unmoored by her death. A full book from his perspective was as much of treat as it was to have “City of Blades” (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...) be focused on Turyin Mulaghesh; Bennett once again developed a beloved side character into a fascinating and layered protagonist, with a rich history to come to terms with.

As usual with Bennett’s books, the world building is beautifully detailed, and so vivid that it is almost as much of character as its inhabitants. Bennett also brought up a yet-unexplored element of his incredible world forward: the Divinities’ children and their descendants.

If you like intelligent and deeply engaging fantasy fiction, do yourself a favor and read this trilogy. Bennet wrote beautiful, refreshingly original books that are beyond genre, as far as I am concerned. They might break your heart, but it’s totally worth it.

“My definition of an adult is someone who lives their life aware they are sharing the world with others. My definition of an adult is someone who knows the world was here before they showed up and that it'll be here well after they walk away from it. My definition of an adult, in other words, is someone who lives their life with a little fucking perspective.”
Profile Image for Silvana.
1,151 reviews1,118 followers
May 11, 2017
Always hard saying goodbye to a wonderful series. And yet it is inevitable. After five days of consideration, I finally decided to give this book five stars. Why? It gave me a satisfying conclusion to a wonderful series.

I was really annoyed when the synopsis came out. Like, seriously, it announced that a main character died. In the synopsis. What the hell. Nevertheless, I patiently waited for the release. It was not in vain. The story flowed effortlessly from when Sigrud - who we all know is a certified badass since the start of the series - appeared and we got to know his train of thoughts. I think his character revelation is my favorite part of this book. Sigrud is more than just muscle. He is a very capable spy, perceptive, thoughtful, a great tactician. I used to compare him to Logen Ninefingers from the First Law world (since both represented the badass northern guy trope), but now I know who's my pick from the two.

Anyway, let's talk about the gods, aka the divines. I was not really a fan of gods in fantasy. I find them either a) deux ex machina and b) takes away the (human) character's agency (or most of the times, both). Not many authors can pull off a story involving gods that's not cringeworthy. Lucky for us, Bennet is not one of them. His excellent worldbuilding really helps. I've always been intrigued with his Mughal/Slavic/Central Asian take of the world (with its technology). The integration of the gods was seamless. In fact, he managed to insert some new weird divinities here. The book opened with a demigod whose realm is laughter. And there's some timey wimey wibbly wobbly stuff going on too I feel like watching Doctor Who.

The five stars does not mean the book is perfect. I had two nitpicks:
1. That one-night stand is not necessary. Seriously, a man and a woman can spend a night without sleeping with each other, no matter how stressed they are.
2. I did actually guess some of the plot twists. I was expecting more surprise.

I would recommend the Divine Cities trilogy to anyone who:
1. Bored with youngsters as main characters - all three books have characters over 30 years old with none of those angsty, emotionally unstable parts- plus, none of them are particularly gorgeous.
2. Love colonization and nation-building themes
3. Wants to have a uniquely fantastical world but still relatable enough with the world we live in.
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1,221 reviews225 followers
August 8, 2021
He stares at his scarred hands. What an ugly thing I am, he thinks. Why did I ever believe I could wreak anything but ugliness in this world? Why did I ever think that those near me would meet anything but pain and death?
He stands alone in the forest, then looks up at the pale moon above.
What else is there to be? What else is there to do?
He bows his head, and knows what is left.

I do so badly at finishing series - I just hate conclusions, hate saying goodbye to characters and their worlds (until the next reread). But I couldn't stay away from The Divine Cities; lucky me, because Robert Jackson Bennett may have broken my heart several times - again, damnit - but he's also written the perfect capper to one of the best fantasy series around.

Yes, you could read this as a standalone, but it's so much better to come into this with an attachment to the series and the characters that populate it (not just so that attachment can be used against you, I swear). I'm not going to grumble for too long about the blurb, even though it deserves it, because in the end it's hard to spoil a series that's more about journey than destination (although running across it before finishing the first book was kind of a bummer, thanks marketing team).

My definition of an adult is someone who lives their life aware they are sharing the world with others. My definition of an adult is someone who knows the world was here before they showed up and that it'll be here well after they walk away from it.
My definition of an adult, in other words, is someone who lives their life with a little fucking perspective

(Our world could really use a Mulagesh or two)

Sigrud has been one of my favourite characters throughout, and he finally gets his own book. There's a lot at stake, as usual; there's revenge, betrayal, overdue reunions and Divine magic. The writing is still beautiful, and I cried more than once, because really sinking into this book and letting it get to you, emotionally, is to invite grief and beauty and just - so many emotions.

I regret nothing, though I do already miss this series. Yay for rereads, and I suspect I'll be back before very long at all.
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