“At first he’d kept count, reciting the lines which every citizen, Below or Above, learnt almost as soon as they could speak, but there were so many of them…Yet for a city so seemingly ordered, Thaiburley is mysterious and full of secrets. The gothic-noir feel of the urban landscape adds atmosphere to the plot and informs the personality of the entire book. It is a city that intrigues me and I am very pleased that City of Dreams and Nightmare is just the first in a series because I want to immerse myself in Thaiburley again and again.
From the Streets Below to the Market Row
From taverns and stalls to the Shopping Halls…
From trinkets so cheap to exclusive boutique…”
The main character, Tom, appears in the first chapter on a quest to obtain something from the very top of the city. He is a street kid from the slums of City Below, undertaking a task (stealing a demon egg) which, if he completes successfully, will earn him status with his peers in the Blue Claw gang and with Jezmina, the girl he wants to impress. In the upper reaches, hiding from two arkademics, he witnesses a murder which changes the course of his life forever. Pursued by Tylus, a reluctant Kite Guard, who is in turn being stalked by an assassin, Tom flees the higher rows back to the relative safety of City Below, where is friend and ally, Kat, is waiting for him. But Kat has her own issues. She is a strange and secretive girl, with unexpected connections and talents. Both Tom and Kat’s points of view dominate the novel and indeed, they are the most well-realised and complete characters as we follow them trying to survive all that Thaiburley has to throw at them. I particularly liked Kat’s mix of vulnerability, strength and sass and hope to see more of her in future, certainly her final scene would indicate that will be the case.
Ian Whates has drawn some very imaginative creatures and characters in City of Dreams and Nightmare: the nasty Dewar, ex-mercenary, butler and bodyguard who reveals his softer side on occasion; Magnus, the Machiavellian villain who hopes to destabilise Thaiburley for his own ends; the ‘Jerardine’, alien lizard-like creatures who have truly creepy ‘sculptures’; the magical cape-flying Kite Guards; and the monstrous Demon Hounds, spider-like parasitical creations that can influence the minds of the weak. All play their role in the book and, to be fair, some do it better than others, but I did appreciate the imagery used to create the overall sense of a city in danger of being toppled by corruption from within.
Reviewer: Cara (@murf61)
Title: City of Dreams and Nightmare
Author: Ian Whates
Series: City of a Hundred Rows, volume 1
Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Angry Robot (4 Mar 2010)
Copy: Bought new
SUMMARY (on back of the book)
They call it “The City of a Hundred Rows”. The ancient city of Thaiburley is a vast, multi-tiered metropolis. The poor live in the City Below and demons are said to dwell in the Upper Heights.
Having witnessed a murder in a part of the city he should never have been in, street thief Tom has to run for his life. Down through the vast city he is pursued by sky-borne assassins, sinister Kite Guards, and agents of a darker force intent on destabilising the whole city. His only ally is Kat, a renegade like him, but she has secrets of her own…