I’m still debating whether to give this book 3.5 or 4 stars, so the rating may change.
This world is definitely a fantasy one, but its inhabitants may live with more technology than you see with a typical sword-and-sorcery fantasy. I also wouldn't call it urban fantasy. It’s an industrial setting; you’ll see that they have automobiles and trains, but little electrification. It’s an interesting place to put a society’s level of technology.
Now for the background: almost a century ago, the Saypuri managed to kill off most of the gods of the Continent that had been oppressing them. This was a serious setback for the Continent since its peoples had become dependent on their gods’ miracles, and those miracles stopped working after their respective god’s demise. Now the Saypuri get to oppress the Continent, and some of the consequences of all this was explored in the first book, City of Stairs.
City of Blades is a sequel to City of Stairs, but the events of the former don’t follow immediately on those of the latter; it’s five years later, and although Shara Thivani, the main character from the first book makes a few brief appearances, the Blades story follows General Turyin Mulaghesh’s mission to Voortyashtan to investigate a missing operative after she’s dragged out of retirement. This was particularly good because although I’ve read City of Stairs, I didn’t remember it all that well. You could probably even get away with jumping right into City of Blades.
It’s rare that a sequel outshines the original, but I actually liked City of Blades better than City of Stairs. I think it’s because the things that bothered me about Shara’s character either weren’t present with Mulaghesh or weren’t as prevalent. It was interesting, and part of my wavering on the star rating stems from the fact that some of my theories from earlier on in the book turned out to be correct, and the wrap-up of the ending felt a little flat. I’m not saying the book was predictable; it’s just that I guessed right in several cases. I also rushed through the last hundred pages or so.
Anyway, if you like atypical fantasy settings with strong female protagonists, you may want to check out this series!