K. A. Doore
published: 16th June 2020
Seven years have passed since the Siege — a time when the hungry dead had risen — but the memories still haunt Illi Basbowen. Though she was trained to be an elite assassin, now the Basbowen clan act as Ghadid’s militia force protecting the resurrected city against a growing tide of monstrous guul that travel across the dunes.
Illi’s worst fears are confirmed when General Barca arrives, bearing news that her fledgling nation, Harthage, also faces this mounting danger. In her search for the source of the guul, the general exposes a catastophic secret hidden on the outskirts of Ghadid.
To protect her city and the realm, Illi must travel to Harthage and confront her inner demons in order to defeat a greater one — but how much can she sacrifice to protect everything she knows from devastation?
Galley provided by publisher
CWs: magic involving self harm, murder/death
The Unconquered City is, first and foremost, a distinctly satisfying wrap-up to the Chronicles of Ghadid series. It takes you back to a familiar world, for new adventures, and ties together the last threads of storylines introduced in the first two books. Namely, the return of a character I shall not name, so it’s a nice surprise.
In The Unconquered City, we meet Illi, a cousin who works to defend the city against attacks from the sands. She very much views this as her mission following the Siege, seven years earlier, and also works with Heru to quiet guuli (although Heru is obviously scheming further too). But when General Barca arrives one day with the news that guul attacks are getting worse, she follows her to Harthage to save her family.
The best part about this book is that it actually considers the toll that some of these big fantasy events have. I’ve read so many epic fantasies that just seem to ignore the mental health of their characters after everything happens. (I mean, if you want to create a world where mental health is not an issue…go ahead? I guess? Strange hill to die on, rather than representing it, but okay.) This one centres it.
I think a strength of this series is in the characters and worldbuilding, and that is no less the case here. By the third book the world feels so familiar that falling into it is like some form of coming home. And the characters were definitely what had me reading it almost obsessively (yes, I finished it in one sitting). Particularly certain characters from previous books that finally came back, yes, but also everyone else. I loved seeing Amastan, Mo, Thana and Heru again.
And honestly, if you haven’t got onto this series just yet, there’s no time like the present! You are seriously missing out otherwise.