I received an ARC from Tor and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Remember when I said that The Impossible Contract upped the emotional game for me. Well The Unconquered City took all of that, added ten times the emotional weight, and absolutely crushed me. In a good way. I promise.
The Unconquered City is set seven years after the events of The Impossible Contract. This time, the story follows Illi Basbowen, one of the last assassin’s being trained before the siege, but now works as part of Ghadid’s militia, protecting the city against the attacks of guul. When a General from the neighbouring city of Hathage arrives, she confirms they are also seeing increased attacks and exposes a catastrophic secret hidden on the outskirts of Ghadid.
Illi is suffering from the trauma of the siege on Ghadid. She has nightmares, flashback induced panic attacks, and keeps herself emotionally distant from those around her. She works with Heru, who has stuck around Ghadid after the events of the last book. Heru is emotionally closeted, and lives on the outskirts of the city because no one trusts him or his blasphemous magic.
Illi meets Canthem, a non-binary babe and a member of the Hathage’s guul guard, at Ghadid’s market before everything goes to hell. She starts off on what is supposed to be a short affair. But when Illi and Heru are forced to leave the city, Canthem is part of the guard that escorts them through the desert.
Like in The Impossible Contract, I thought that the relationship conflicts (both romantic and otherwise) were realistic. Illi is suffering from her trauma, and pushes away people who try to get too close to her. She and Heru can have a somewhat antagonistic relationship, but it drives her actions and their consequences.
I’m not going to lie, this book might have made me cry (it definitely did)…more than once. It had a lot of emotional weight, and it was an excellent conclusion to the series. It tied up the loose threads from the last book, while also being an entire story on its own, and brought everything to a satisfying close.
I will definitely be keeping an eye out for anything K. A. Doore writes in the future, because I have really enjoyed this diverse, queer, non-eurcentric fantasy series.