Monday, November 02, 2015

Review: Towers Fall by Karina Sumner-Smith

Towers Fall
Author:  Karina Sumner-Smith
Series:  Towers Trilogy 3
Publisher:  Talos, November 17, 2015
Format:  Trade Paperback and eBook, 396 pages
List Price:  $15.99 (print and eBook)
ISBN:  9781940456416 (print); 9781940456447 (eBook)
Review Copy:  Provided by the Publisher

War. Fire. Destruction. Xhea believed that the Lower City had weathered the worst of its troubles—that their only remaining fight would be the struggle to rebuild before winter. She was wrong.

Now her home is under attack from an unexpected source. The Central Spire, the City’s greatest power, is intent on destroying the heart of the magical entity that resides beneath the Lower City’s streets. The people on the ground have three days to evacuate—or else.

With nowhere to go and time running out, Xhea and the Radiant ghost Shai attempt to rally a defense. Yet with the Spire’s wrath upon them, nothing—not their combined magic, nor their unexpected allies—may be strong enough to protect them from the power of the City.

From Nebula Award–nominated author Karina Sumner-Smith, Towers Fall is a fantastic climax to this amazing and thought-provoking trilogy. 

Brandon's Review

The conclusion to any good trilogy is tough. It is tough for the reader and the author both for different reasons. Karina Sumner-Smith’s concluding book, Towers Fall, brought out the best of the series and left you wanting more from her in future books.

Sumner-Smith manages to continually surprise by pulling out a card you wondered about, but had been too distracted to follow up on. In the third book in the series we follow Xhea and Shia as they struggle separately and together to gather enough support and survivors to help the Lower City weather the announcement of imminent destruction from the Central Spire, the lynchpin to the power and society above. Will the growing sentience of the Lower City evolve quickly enough to protect its citizens against the threat?

Hampered by a binding spell and questioning the reason and purpose of their relationship the ongoing struggles interpersonally and emotionally continue to play out it a sophisticated way. Nothing in this book is as simple as it first appears and the author manages to avoid the easy options for where their relationship might go and where the story ultimately ends. We see the return of many of the same characters, but a depth of character is set down as we explore the childhood relationships of Xhea and Shai as they reach out to allies for help in keeping the Spire from killing the Lower City’s new intelligence and its citizens. Before they can make much progress the upper city’s towers begin to cannibalize the remaining towers below before they are destroyed.

We learn more about how the Spire controls those with dark talents to control the society at large and keep the bright towers in debt to them. The Spire is more than just a central point of control, it is also a conduit for the power of the city in trying to destroy the Lower City, but Xhea and Shai are willing to expend their lives in saving each other and the cities they both love.

I admire an author who can make you glad they didn’t take the shiny happy ending, but also didn’t leave a dystopian book on an overwhelming depressing note. I think the author is adept at using interpersonal and story arcs to question the internal development of the characters and remind me of my own childhood and question the relationships I held dear and how those have shaped the person I’ve become. It also reminded me that as a young person I went through a lot of very tough decisions and feelings that I felt like I didn’t have someone I felt connected to in order to share them with. Ultimately, this sense of connection and the value of friendship drive the world we live in – or at least – this is one of the themes I felt jumped out at me, but read it for yourself and see. I look forward to what the author has in store for us next.


Towers Trilogy 1
Talos, September 30, 2014
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Xhea has no magic. Born without the power that everyone else takes for granted, Xhea is an outcast—no way to earn a living, buy food, or change the life that fate has dealt her. Yet she has a unique talent: the ability to see ghosts and the tethers that bind them to the living world, which she uses to scratch out a bare existence in the ruins beneath the City’s floating Towers.

When a rich City man comes to her with a young woman’s ghost tethered to his chest, Xhea has no idea that this ghost will change everything. The ghost, Shai, is a Radiant, a rare person who generates so much power that the Towers use it to fuel their magic, heedless of the pain such use causes. Shai’s home Tower is desperate to get the ghost back and force her into a body—any body—so that it can regain its position, while the Tower’s rivals seek the ghost to use her magic for their own ends. Caught between a multitude of enemies and desperate to save Shai, Xhea thinks herself powerless—until a strange magic wakes within her. Magic dark and slow, like rising smoke, like seeping oil. A magic whose very touch brings death.

With two extremely strong female protagonists, Radiant is a story of fighting for what you believe in and finding strength that you never thought you had.

See Brandon's review here.

Towers Trilogy 2
Talos Press, May 12, 2015
Trade Paperback and eBook, 400 pages

Once, Xhea’s wants were simple: enough to eat, safety in the underground, and the hit of bright payment to transform her gray-cast world into color. But in the aftermath of her rescue of the Radiant ghost Shai, she realizes the life she had known is gone forever.

In the two months since her fall from the City, Xhea has hidden in skyscraper Edren, sheltered and attempting to heal. But soon even she must face the troubling truth that she might never walk again. Shai, ever faithful, has stayed by her side?but the ghost’s very presence has sent untold fortunes into Edren’s coffers and dangerously unbalanced the Lower City’s political balance.

War is brewing. Beyond Edren’s walls, the other skyscrapers have heard tell of the Radiant ghost and the power she holds; rumors, too, speak of the girl who sees ghosts who might be the key to controlling that power. Soon, assassins stalk the skyscrapers’ darkened corridors while armies gather in the streets. But Shai’s magic is not the only prize?nor the only power that could change everything. At last, Xhea begins to learn of her strange dark magic, and why even whispers of its presence are enough to make the Lower City elite tremble in fear.

Together, Xhea and Shai may have the power to stop a war?or become a weapon great enough to bring the City to its knees. That is, if the magic doesn't destroy them first.

See Brandon's review here.


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