With City of Bones, Wells shapes a fabled and mysterious Arabian Nights wonderland in which science and magic meet in a head-on clash. It is a place that has been devastated by an ancient holocaust, and where most of the world’s water has evaporated.
But out of the ashes, a bizarre and wonderful civilization arises. Sand ships now traverse the routes once used by the great war galleons, and a glittering chain of city-states dot the Great Waste. And greatest of them all is Charisat.
A beautiful woman and a handsome thief try to unravel the mysteries of an age-old technology to stop a fanatical cult before its members unleash an evil that will topple Charisat.
And destroy all the water in the world.
(from the synopsis in the library catalog)
Pacing/plot: The plot was fast-paced and held my attention, but became a bit confusing in the second half. I started to lose track of some of what was going on. I would have liked a little bit more exposition.
Characters: The protagonist is Khat, who specializes in dealing & searching for ancient relics. Khat is a krisman, engineered to survive better than humans in the Wastes. He can be kind of callous, but he has his good moments. Elen, a young Warder (magician) is the main female character, and despite being born into a higher class than Khat she has her own problems from living in a deeply patriarchal society. I liked the characters but, overall, I think I liked the setting best in this book.
Setting: Fantastic! The setting is Charisat, the greatest of the major cities in the Great Waste, a hostile desert created in an ancient disaster event. Charisat was an island before the surrounding water dried up, and now the city towers over the Waste with each level built on top of a lower one. Ancient roads are used to travel from one city to another. Here’s a taste:
The first herald of the sun’s return was a gentle glow along the eastern horizon. As it rose higher, Khat knew, it would turn the top level of the Waste to molten gold, recreating for a time how it must have appeared so long ago when it first rose up from hell to destroy the seas. But instead of morning light running like water over the ground, it would have been liquid rock, killing everything in its path, forming lakes of fire, spewing gas that choked everyone it didn’t burn. Or so the stories said. The stories had never said what caused it.