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The City Stained Red

The City Stained Red

4.2 6
by Sam Sykes

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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



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.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This dense, overwritten fantasy novel reunites the ragtag crew of adventurers from Sykes’s Aeons’ Gate series (Tome of the Undergates, etc.). Done with adventuring and the requisite tally of murders, Lenk—a hardcore killer with an incongruously sweet face—wants out, and he needs his team to help him collect his final payday. Unfortunately, things do not exactly go to plan, and it’s up to this comically inappropriate group to save the day as their city descends into chaos and ruin. The fantastical, dangerous world and the creatures that populate it are packed with potential, different enough from standard fantasy fare to be exciting. The delivery is less appealing; Sykes struggles to get a handle on non-human perspectives and the mindset of people who kill for money, and characterization is inconsistent. Meanwhile, the potential for a rousing and gritty adventure is disappointingly smothered by pages of repetitive and meandering narrative. (Feb.)
From the Publisher
"Action fantasy with soul-albeit a small, dirty, funny soul."—Brent Weeks"

Insouciant, unrepentant and irrepressible adventurers in a powder keg of a city. And that's just how the story begins."—Robin Hobb"

Sykes has put the fun back in fantasy with fantastical creatures and a lovable crew of malcontents. The City Stained Red is like David Eddings meets Conan the Barbarian."—Brian McClellan, author of Promise of Blood"

Sam Sykes continues to reinvent the fantasy adventuring party in a vibrant world of rude magic and good intentions gone bad. Bold and exuberant, never cynical, Sykes fights the good fight on behalf of rich fantasy that nonetheless refuses to apologize for being kick-ass fun."—Scott Lynch"

Playful language, distinctly drawn characters, and a cavalcade of action."—SF Signal "

An entertaining blend of classic adventure and inventive inspiration."—Juliet E. McKenna, author of The Thief's Gamble"

Excitement, vivacity, and sly wit... simply impossible not to enjoy."—RT Book Reviews (4.5 Stars)"

This brash, prolific wordsmith has a natural eloquence that grabbed my attention and refused to let go."—Locus

Library Journal
A small group of adventurers is heading for the city of Cier'Djaal to collect on a debt, but they could not have chosen a more dangerous time. The city is about to erupt in violence, as the local criminal gangs are taking to the streets, the nonhuman residents are restless, and the forces from two foreign powers are squaring up for a battle right in the middle of town. Lenk and his companions get in trouble together and separately as they sort through who is stirring Cier'Djaal to violence, and to what end. VERDICT A dark fantasy with humor and lots of action, this should appeal to fans of Scott Lynch or Joe Abercrombie. Bringing back characters from his earlier "Aeon's Gate" series (Tome of the Undergates), Sykes deftly introduces his world to first-time readers and is setting up the rest of what is sure to be an exciting new series.
Kirkus Reviews
A new entry in the grimdark fantasy genre begins with this follow-up to the Aeons' Gate trilogy (The Skybound Sea, 2012, etc.). The priest Miron Evenhands has yet to pay the swordsman Lenk and his band of adventurers for services rendered, so they track their elusive employer to Cier'Djaal, a corrupt, teeming city on the brink of civil war. As the forces of two opposing gods square off, both the wealthy fashas who rule the city and a powerful criminal guild struggle to reassert control, but all are helpless before the Khovura, an insane cult bent on resurrecting the demons. Lenk just wants his gold so he can retire, but he and his companions are unavoidably caught up in the city's bloody chaos. And soon they discover that Miron is not whom he seemed to be. The author attempts to give his characters depth by loading them up with dark secrets, which he then hastens to reveal as quickly as possible, leaching them of their dramatic power. Sadly, the protagonists—the cynical, weary swordsman; the priestess struggling with her faith; the brash young wizard; the feral warrior woman; and the dragonman who's the last of his kind—simply lack the emotional texture that would make them real people instead of stock fantasy figures seemingly drawn straight from a role-playing game manual. Foes pursue them, whereupon they fight, they argue, separate to their own affairs, reunite and begin the process again. There's an attempt to create tension through Lenk's conflicted desire to lay down his sword; but we know he won't for now, because the series wouldn't be very interesting if he does. It's not clear if the series will be all that interesting if he doesn't, either. A great deal of shouting, soul-searching and swordplay adding up to nothing very much.

Product Details

Publication date:
Bring Down Heaven Series , #1
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.80(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Sam Sykes is the author of the acclaimed Tome of the Undergates, a vast and sprawling story of adventure, demons, madness and carnage. He lives in Arizona. He once punched an ostrich. What a great guy.

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The City Stained Red 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great story about emotion and perspective, and how we are all a mess and try our best to do what's right. The author has a good handle on his voice and a great sense of humor throughout.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable read. I really liked ALL the main characters. Pacing was great. I cant wait for the next book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just couldn't keep my attention.. I've read quite a few different series and trilogies relating to epic fantasies. The only reason I gave this one a chance was because it was an extra in one of those "said" series... Didn't like it at all. I'm honestly disappointed. I give it a 2 because at least it was something to read and it kept my mind active.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is excellent and I was hooked immediately. It is an epic fantasy that includes adventure, laugh out loud humor, love, fear, sadness, friendship and loyalty. The characters are all very well developed, and it was impossible for me to choose just one favorite. Each individual character has depth and complexity. The story shifts from character to character with seamless transitions, and the different points of view in this case are interesting and engaging rather than distracting. It has been quite a while since I read a fantasy novel, and this book has all of the elements that I previously loved about fantasy without any of the aspects that turned me off in the past. The City Stained Red is a fun escape into another world and I look forward to reading the rest of the series.
LadyofLeoness More than 1 year ago
Sam is refreshingly fun and full of adventure and life. These qualities show in his stories. Perfect for when you want to sink into another world for a time and live vicariously through his heroes and the rest of the group. Sam has a bright future ahead I believe.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago