City of Last Chances

English language

Published Dec. 27, 2022 by Head of Zeus.

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4 stars (11 reviews)

Arthur C. Clarke winner and Sunday Times bestseller Adrian Tchaikovsky's triumphant return to fantasy with a darkly inventive portrait of a city under occupation and on the verge of revolution.

There has always been a darkness to Ilmar, but never more so than now. The city chafes under the heavy hand of the Palleseen occupation, the choke-hold of its criminal underworld, the boot of its factory owners, the weight of its wretched poor and the burden of its ancient curse. What will be the spark that lights the conflagration? Despite the city's refugees, wanderers, murderers, madmen, fanatics and thieves, the catalyst, as always, will be the Anchorwood – that dark grove of trees, that primeval remnant, that portal, when the moon is full, to strange and distant shores.

Ilmar, some say, is the worst place in the world and the gateway to a thousand worse places.

Ilmar, City of Long …

4 editions

reviewed City of Last Chances by Adrian Tchaikovsky (The Tyrant Philosophers, #1)

City of Last Chances, by Adrian Tchaikovsky

5 stars

Ilmar is a conquered city. Only a few years before Adrian Tchaikovsky’s imaginative novel, City of Lost Chances, opens, it was taken by the Palleseens as part of their quest to “perfect” the world. Tchaikovsky’s cast of characters provide a wonderful selection of vantage points to watch as the city begins to spin out of control, leaving us all to wonder if the long-awaited day of independence might be coming at last. Because there are so many characters, however, I had to reserve judgment about who to root for. Like any other newcomer to Ilmar, I had to wait and watch until everyone’s true colors emerged...

Read the rest of my review at A Bookish Type.

If Marx was trying to be relevant and writing fantasy today

5 stars

Ok, this book was very fun and gave me some of those excitement in the streets feels at moments I am just always there for. Going in blind to the story, it took me way to long to feel invested in the story, it being fantasy and starting off with a tale about god, I was pretty much ready to swipe left on this one. But then the world came into focus and I was hooked.

I read a review that said in the fantasy world, it's hip to be exploring the magic/creatures/polygod world's through a lens of the industrial revolution rather than bronze or medieval developments. And within this modern trend this is Adrian Tchaikovsky's contribution to that.

I couldn't help but map Marx's capital onto this world, updated by my stronger and stronger appreciation of Tchaikovsky's work and left politics. We have main characters from the factory works, …

Struggled with the format

3 stars

This is actually a really good book, but for some reason I struggled a lot with the format, in which each chapter is told from a different character's perspective and frequently only a character that we meet for one or two chapters. Yes, there are a few "main" characters that we get to come back to again and again, but you don't really start revisiting them until later in the book and so for the first part it's kind of an endless parade of new points of view. Took me quite a while to wade through those to where everything clicked for me and I was able to keep my attention on the book for more than a single chapter at a time.

Overall, it has a good arc, a good plot, good character development etc though and I enjoyed the story quite a lot by the time I reached …

4 stars with a caveat

4 stars

4 stars is fair here I think. There seems to be a bit of a thing where a few authors are trying to move Fantasy forward to the industrial era and extrapolating into what that might look like. This is Tchaikovsky's take on that trend. This, however, was a slightly odd book. Firstly, I should say it is Tchaikovsky so it is well executed with his trademark flair. However (and you knew there was a but), it ended up striking me as a somewhat disjointed book. I don't know if it was meant to be the lead off for a series or not (and it certainly felt as if it was written that way) but there were a few notes that jarred for me and I wasn't entirely satisfied with the resolution. For example, a Shakespearean narration is thrown in about a third through, clearly to smooth over a rough …

City of Last Chances

4 stars

There were a lot of scenes I loved, and the sequence in the beginning where the narrative is passed along a chain of serially coinciding characters is wonderful. When I read the reunion near the end, I literally exclaimed "Hahaha, yes!" As a whole, it felt a touch rambly, but I have no regrets. One area where Tchaikovsky excels is departing from (or maybe just ignoring?) genre tropes, and this is no exception.