City of Songs – by Anthony Ryan (Review)

While this picture is a little grainy, the real-life version is quite lovely.

The Seven Swords #3

Fantasy, Epic, Novella

Subterranean Press; September 30, 2021

160 pages (hardcover)

GoodreadsAuthor Website

Publisher (and Twitter @SubPress)

4.8 / 5 ✪

I was kindly furnished an advance copy in return for a fair and honest review. Many thanks to Subterranean Press and Anthony Ryan for the ARC! All opinions are my own.

Beware Spoilers for A Pilgrimage of Swords and The Kraken’s Tooth (Seven Swords books 1 & 2)!

Review of A Pilgrimage of SwordsReview of the Kraken’s Tooth

The third entry in the Seven Swords begins much as the one before it did. Fresh off the decimation of Carthula, Pilgrim (Guyime) and Seeker are fleeing the destruction of their wake while also traveling toward their hearts’ truest desire. In his case another of the seven demon blades, while in hers a daughter long lost. In this they have been joined by another pair: former slave Lexius, now wielder of another of the Seven Swords, inhabited by his wife—he seeks her freedom; and Mareth druid sellsword Lorweth, whose motives and secrets are entirely his own.

They travel to Atheria, the fabled City of Songs. The Shining Jewel of the Third Sea. Governed by a Council, the city is truly ruled by the Exultia Caste—the obscenely wealthy who wear masks to convey their godly status to the rest of the unwashed of the city. Here, Guyime hopes to find another of the demon blades, while Seeker hopes to find her daughter. Instead, they will find nothing but plots, lies, blood and chaos. For Ultrius Domiano—the very man the need to see—lies freshly slain, and it’s up to the Wanderers to find his killer.

Only then will they find the answers they seek.

The Seven Swords have been consistently entertaining, despite their short format. Three outstanding novellas, each telling a complete story while deferring to the next in the sequence to continue the overarching tale. As much as I’d like a full-length Seven Swords story, I honestly think it works perfectly in novella format. The obvious comparison is Murderbot; something great in short form that may or may not work as well in a longer one (Network Effect was good, but I’d say not nearly as good as any of the novellas).

As for the story of City of Songs—it’s a good one. Who doesn’t love a murder mystery? Especially one where the stakes are high. To get the answers they seek, Guyime and Seeker must solve the mystery, which is properly mysterious and immersive. After I finally figured out what was going on, one main mystery still remained. Well, two, I suppose. The why of it was an interesting point, but the main mystery was more than enough motivation to keep reading. A mystery that persisted up until the very end.


Very good tale. And it continues the overarching plot very nicely. I don’t really have any notes or criticisms. Just that while this is a contained adventure, knowledge of the first two books is really helpful to reading it. Luckily Subterranean Press has two hardbacks with your name on them (or ebooks, if you’d prefer). I’d definitely recommend this series, and hope it continues to deliver!