The Shattered City by Tansy Rayner Roberts – review

This review forms part of my contribution to the Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading Challenge. All my AWWC reviews can be found here.


The Shattered City by Tansy Rayner Roberts is book two of the Creature Court trilogy. I reviewed book one (Power and Majesty) a few months ago.

The Shattered City picks up where Power and Majesty leaves off. I’m finding that it is a bit hard to give any kind of plot synopsis of book two of a trilogy without giving away information about book one. Suffice to say that the main character Velody has to navigate the complicated politics of the Creature Court and find out more about the enemy they are fighting against.

The first half of the book builds the tension about the as-yet-unseen enemy, demonstrating an intelligence behind the seemingly directionless attacks from the sky. Interestingly the last part of the book doesn’t really focus on the external enemy at all, bringing the focus back to the internal machinations of the Creature Court. In many fantasy trilogies, tension is built by increasing the scale of the world visible to the reader (thereby raising the stakes). The Shattered City doesn’t do this, rather it keeps the focus on a single city and builds tension through the personal interactions of the characters. It is an interesting technique.

It could be that my recollection of the first book has dimmed slightly over the months, but The Shattered City seems to have a fair bit more raunchy behaviour in it. It seems like well executed raunchy behaviour descriptive text to me, so if you like your novels steamy that aspect may appeal.

The book focuses on a wider array of characters and gives them more depth, particularly Velody’s companions Delphine and Rhian. This helps to give the series a more complete feeling, and I enjoyed getting to know more characters in more detail.

As a consequence of this, there is a lot more point of view swapping in this novel. It is handled well, I never felt confused about whose eyes I was seeing the story through which is impressive considering how often perspective is switched.

There was a lot less focus on the day jobs of the main characters (dress making etc), which kept the focus on the supernatural elements of the story and effectively highlighted the characters drifting away from the “real” world. Where professions were referenced, it usually had the effect of grounding the characters amidst the fantastic.

Like other work by Ms Roberts, the writing is very strong with vivid descriptions and fast, punchy dialogue.

Overall this is a strong work and upon finishing it, when my Kindle automatically brought up a screen giving me an option to buy and download the third novel of the trilogy, I pressed the button without any hesitation (I worry about what that particular feature of the Kindle is going to do to my to-be-read pile). Highly recommended.

I also reviewed this book on Goodreads. View all my reviews.


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This work by Mark Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.

Author: mark

A writer of speculative fiction and all round good egg. Well, mostly good.

OK, sometimes good.

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