City of Lies

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This amazing epic fantasy debut is perfect for fans of Robin Hobb and Naomi Novik.

I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me...

Outwardly, Jovan is the lifelong friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible Heir. Quiet. Forgettable. In secret, he's a master of poisons and chemicals, trained to protect the Chancellor’s family from treachery. When the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army lays siege to the city, Jovan and his sister Kalina must protect the Heir and save their city-state.
But treachery lurks in every corner, and the ancient spirits of the land are rising...and angry.

Genre: Fantasy

Author: Sam Hawke

Format: Paperback, 559 pages

Published: July 3rd 2018 by Tor Books

Original Title: City of Lies

ISBN: 0765396890 (ISBN13: 9780765396891)

Edition Language: English

Series: Poison Wars #1

My Review

YES YES YES...I had hoped for that ending :)

The peace has been broken. There's a traitor among the trusted. Has the city's chancellor known about this all along?

City of Lies by Sam Hawke bares a hint in the title about 'lies' that gives away some clue to the rise of the powerful who built wealth upon and separated themselves from other classes of citizens in the foundation of a huge and mighty city (built upon lies). A very clever and character-driven story that's wonderfully imagined with secrets, loopholes, friendships, family ties, backstabbers, mystery, and a creative ancient history.

Jovan and Kalina a brother/sister duo, are shocked by the deaths of their uncle and the chancellor by what they assume is poison. Kalina is the heir next in line to her uncle's wealth and position as 'proofer' or poison taste tester at the chancellor's house, at which she isn't very good at. Jovan is to be the new guard for the rising chancellor, his best friend Tain. Both of them have some trepidations about their upcoming opportunities and both of them seek answers in what happened.

Jovan fulfills his role as protector with honor and Kalina is investigating and following clues about her uncle's whereabouts before his death that might lead to some answers. Uncovering a shadowed world beyond their own, Kalina must weed out the truth from fiction and decide who and what she can trust.

As Kalina and Jovan come up with more plans, their city falls under attack. With most of their army gone at the time, they abandon their trail and aid in the protection of the city walls and it's inhabitants hands on. As it turns out, Kalina is one heck of a team player and leader who doesn't mind rolling up her sleeves and work the defense.

A follow up on more clues, lead the brother/sister duo into deep caves and a secret underground. It's dangerous and hair raising at times. When their ways separate to do their duties, they find themselves each at crossroads to make a decision that could lead to more tragedy or be the ultimate sacrifice in an attempt to save the city.

When a traitor is discovered it is almost too late to turn things around. For some of them, it is!


This is a fantastic immersive fantasy read. Very entertaining and enjoyable, clean and brilliant.

The narration of this novel is switched back and forth between Kalina and Jovan and each chapter begins with a description of a toxic plant or poison and its effects when digested. Very interesting and a great way to break up the chapters.

Initially, I hadn't thought about what the 'lies' in this book pertain to, but I really like where the author took it. Not only is the reader lead to follow the investigation of the dead chancellor and their uncle, but there's a sub-story about how it all came to be which really tackles the root of it all and builds up for a sequel.

This book is one to try if you are new to fantasy. It is simply wonderful of a journey with amazing characters and plot. It's hard to believe this is Hawke's debut novel. It is certainly a book I recommend to any and all book lovers.