Isyllt arrives in Symir with a clear objective: find the rebels who are trying to overthrow the Imperial government and support them so that the emperor won’t get any ideas about Isyllt’s homecountry. Since Isyllt is a necromancer she doesn’t really go unnoticed, but pretends to visit the magic university. With the help of apprentice Zhirin she and her bodyguards Adam and Xinai quickly get in touch with a comparatively peaceful revolutionary group, the Jade Tigers. While Xinai discovers her roots in Symir, Isyllt is drawn into police investigations by the enigmatic Asheris.
The Drowning City is a good, engaging, rather light read. The world building is interesting – it’s much too rare that we get a fantasy world that doesn’t build from a European/Western setting – and detailed. And the characters are interesting. Altogether: good times. :)
I really liked the world Downum has created. The relationships with the ghosts are interesting, the various other mythic creatures that are mentioned in a kind of off-hand way are cool and, as I said, I loved the Eastern setting. Downum does a terrific job of making her world layered and feeling surprisingly realistic.
The characters are intriguing. Isyllt is interesting, I very much liked Zhirin and Adam. Asheris is cool and pretty hot. I’ll be happy to revisit them in the next book.
But I have to admit that I felt something was lacking in the book. A hook, or a challenge. I liked reading it and I read it quickly but it was like only a part of my brain was occupied with the book. Despite its rather grim storyline, the book just felt a bit fluffy. Not in a bad way, but it could have profited from a bit more… oomph.
Summarising: Especially for a first novel, this book is a good (summer) read.