tl;dr: Ioth, City of Lights is a solid entry in the Wildfire Cycle that builds on its excellent characters and imaginative world-building.
This is an unbiased review based on an ARC provided by the author.
Let’s get some mundane details out of the way. Ioth, City of Lights is the official second book in the Wildfire Cycle though it happens to follow Kingshold and Tales of Kingshold (which while nominally optional, is a hefty read in itself). It resumes the story after about 2-3 months of the ending of Kingshold and alludes to certain plot movements in Tales of Kingshold as well.
You should read the reviews for Kingshold & Tales of Kingshold first before proceeding further since I will not be rehashing the material already covered earlier. Also, this review should be seen in the context of the earlier reviews as well.
(for some strange reason, I keep seeing Ioth as Lloth but that is neither here nor there)
In a lot of ways, Ioth, City of Lights feels like The Empire Strikes Back of the series. I am not sure if this series is a trilogy but there are enough similar beats to make this book feel similar to the movie. There is one dialogue which really stood out to me – I am not going to spoil it but let’s just say that you will probably smile on seeing it (and I really hope that it not wishful thinking on my behalf 🙂 )
Unfortunately, the Terry Pratchett call-outs that I had remarked on in my earlier review are no longer present. The humour has also been toned down quite a bit. I guess that makes sense given the feeling of catching-up that our heroes are experiencing throughout the story. But, I miss it and this is the only nit that I will pick, in this book. On the flip side though, I could no longer see any abrupt changes in tone that I experienced in Kingshold.
The other characteristics of the series – the wonderful characters and the rich world-building – are even better here. The tone is more dire and frantic, and the plot, more complex, in this book.
There are a few new characters introduced in this book but the focus is on the ones we saw in Kingshold and the Tales of Kingshold.
The good thing this around is how the various main characters have to deal with the consequences of certain choices made in the earlier books as well as the circumstances they find themselves. This is expertly shown especially in the case of Mareth, Alana & Neenahwhi. Other characters too, have their own little story and conflict to deal with.
Overall, these are characters that you will continue to care about.
As the title says, the focus is on Ioth, City of Lights but this time around the setting is not restricted to Ioth alone. There are significant plot developments in Redpool, Kingshold and other places as well.
Venice forms the basis of Ioth (which is obvious from the cover) and the enterprising spirit of the city has been captured in this fictional city.
In addition, there is more magic, different kinds of enemies, new places to explore and discover and Jyuth’s history starts to become more and more relevant.
There is plenty to discover in Ioth, City of Lights and I have just given a barebones summary of what is present there.
I really enjoyed this book and the series is progressing along quite well with enough plot advancement to give the reader a sense of satisfaction. I highly recommend this book and the series if you like fantasy.
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