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Trial of Flowers (City #1)

3.42  ·  Rating Details  ·  219 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
The City Imperishable's secret master and heir to the long-vacant throne has vanished from a locked room, as politics have turned deadly in a bid to revive the city's long-vanished empire. The city's dwarfs, stunted from spending their childhoods in confining boxes, are restive. Bijaz the Dwarf, leader of the Sewn faction among the dwarfs, fights their persecution. Jason t ...more
Paperback, 263 pages
Published September 1st 2006 by Night Shade Books
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Perdido Street Station by China MiévilleMagic America by C.E. MedfordThe Etched City by K.J. BishopCity of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeerENJOY ME by Logan Ryan Smith
New Weird Books
13th out of 106 books — 28 voters
Perdido Street Station by China MiévilleAmerican Gods by Neil GaimanTagged by Joseph M. ChironNeverwhere by Neil GaimanThe Scar by China Miéville
Best Weird Fiction Books
117th out of 324 books — 414 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 552)
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Richard Derus
Jul 25, 2013 Richard Derus rated it really liked it
This week, Saturday the 27th, Jay Lake will hold the Jay Wake. It's the best idea I've ever heard, hosting your own funeral! Think of all the things you've said at the funeral of a friend, things you wish you'd had the chance, and the permission, to say while they were yet breathing. Well, here it is. Opportunity meeting motivation. I've gotten motivated to say my piece about the reading pleasure I've found in Lake's books.

I've reviewed TRIAL OF FLOWERS at Shelf Inflicted, the group blog. It's a
May 27, 2010 Jacob rated it it was ok
The City Imperishable is in trouble. Various armies are marching towards its walls, old gods are spreading fear through the streets, and the people responsible for the city’s safekeeping are either too busy bickering among themselves or worse, vanished. It is up to two ordinary men, and one dwarf, to restore order to the city, return the gods to their slumbers, and turn the tides of war.

Maybe I’m just suffering genre fatigue, but for all its supposed grandeur and decadence, the City Imperishable
Elf M.
Oct 30, 2011 Elf M. rated it it was amazing
Trial of Flowers is one of those new books in the "steampunk and decadence" genre that seems to have become popular since the emergence of China Mieville's Perdido Street Station. Trial follows the adventures of three men: Jason the Factor, Imago of Lockwood, and Bijaz the Dwarf, as the three of them face the rising old and corrupt gods and their magick that threatens to either overwhelm their beloved City Imperishable, or attract the attention of neighboring nations determined to raze the City ...more
Jan 03, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it
Shelves: weird-fiction
They are all on the book jacket, but I'll throw out a few names for you here -- Mieville, Van DeMeer, Bishop. If your reaction is "Oooooh -- cool!" then you will love this book. Lake has his own style and his own uniquely disturbing world, but if you like the dark, "new-weird" authors, Lake fits firmly and very competently in their midsts.

If the above paragraph means nothing to you, a short review -- Trial of Flowers is a very dark, very disturbing fantasy set in the ancient, crumbling, bureauc
D. B.
Aug 12, 2008 D. B. rated it really liked it
Bizarrely if florally written, this Tale Of The City Imperishable" follows the paths of three denizens of the aforementioned metropolis in their combined efforts to preserve the integrity of their home, politically, strategically, and spiritually.

Lake's City exists in fantasy, with stunted men, barbarians at the gate, and inexplicable magic floating free, but the meat of the story focuses on the power struggle between the established board of regents and a reactivated office of the mayor. Along
Oct 15, 2011 Encryptic rated it really liked it
I read this a few years back after reading a recommendation elsewhere and really enjoyed it. Finally got the sequel Madness of Flowers recently so I had to re-read ToF to refresh my memory. Just didn't have time to read much lately due to work otherwise I would have plowed through it much faster.

Really enjoyed it even more this time around - The plot at the heart of it all isn't incredibly groundbreaking but Lake's inventive spin on the usual genre trappings and the interesting trio of main char
Mike Brendan
Feb 29, 2008 Mike Brendan rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: fans of Jay Lake alone.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 11, 2009 Scott rated it liked it
This was another attempt by my brother-in-law and I to do a "read-and-discuss" thing. That last two have ended with one of us giving up on the book halfway through. I am not sure if he finished reading this one, but it was mostly due to his schedule. This book caught a while back when it showed up on my recommendations on Amazon. And for a description, I go to the one that I saw from Publishers Weekly via Amazon.Com:

The ancient and decadent City Imperishable teeters on the verge of obliteration
Kristen Fernandes
Apr 16, 2014 Kristen Fernandes rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Chris Cangiano
Jul 17, 2014 Chris Cangiano rated it liked it
The City Imperishable is the seat of a decadent former empire. The Empire is gone but the City remains ruled by an assemblage of Burgesses, an inner Counselors and a elephantine bureaucracy. Recently however, it has been plagued from without by threats of invasion from an allegedly approaching army and from within by terrifying magical attacks and the potential reemergence of long vanished Gods. Three men of the City work together to try to put things right; Jason the Factor, a businessman and s ...more
Mar 30, 2008 mister rated it it was amazing
Shelves: darkandviolent
Fucking awesome. really strange and dreamy. oh so sad and tragic, but redemptive and beautiful. not for the light hearted.
Mar 22, 2010 Viridian5 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, dark-fantasy
Jay Lake's Trial of Flowers starts slow, and the various viewpoints can be a bit confusing at first, but once it picks up and you get used to it things get very involving. In an ancient city besieged by mysterious and deadly magical attacks and threats of invasion, a few people try to save the city's people. This isn't your usual fantasy environment, though. Out of tradition some children are boxed to stunt their growth and altered to make them dwarfs, who seem to be made for administrative purp ...more
Jun 18, 2009 Jason rated it really liked it
This book has been called "urban fantasy". I wasn't sure what that was at first, and I'm still not entirely certain. Here the magic (what little there is of it) and gods (as rarely seen as they may be) are tied to the ancient sweat, blood, and legend of the countless masses who have lived and died within the city walls. Old court halls are majestic, the poorer districts smell of sewage, and dark alleys echo with the scritching of rat claws on cobble stones. There's little to be found when it com ...more
Francuski filozof, dramaturg, eseista i powieściopisarz Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt dał się poznać polskiemu odbiorcy za sprawą licznych publikacji, w tym form dłuższych i krótszych, na czele z uznanym na całym świecie „Oskarem i Panią Różą”. Choć zdania o jego twórczości są wśród czytelników podzielone, a sam autor, w sposób dość krzywdzący, często porównywany jest do Paulo Coelho, warto podjąć ryzyko i samemu przekonać się, na ile podziela się wrażliwość tego twórcy i sposób postrzegania przez niego ...more
Tim Hicks
Jul 31, 2013 Tim Hicks rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Can I say it was a good read but I didn't like it?

Dark, dark and in places too gritty for some readers.
A bit weird in places, and occasionally I think Lake reached too far with that.

I loved Perdido Street Station, and I am no stranger to dark, weird books. I like Jay's other works, and I wish him the best in his current health challenges.

There's some good world-building here, but as others have noted many details remain un-drawn.

A plus for the florid language, perhaps a tribute to Wolfe and
Jul 15, 2013 Sabrina rated it did not like it
Shelves: gave-up-on
I could not get into this book it was disgusting and at many points I felt like throwing up. I will give the author props for being able to write and come up with some of that stuff. It is an incredibly imaginative book with tons of detail. The author really puts you into the book on the other hand it is not a place that I want to ever go again and it is not a place I feel comfortable in. I understand that everyone has their own point of view and plenty of people will love this book. I personall ...more
Dev Null
Jun 11, 2013 Dev Null rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy
I liked this for the most part, but the insistence on the macabre / graphically violent / gross-out, and especially the constant links between sex and violence put me off. I'm not entirely adverse to a little violence when it helps to tell a tale, but in this case it sometimes seemed to actively hurt the story, and most of the rest of time seemed irrelevant. Yes, your characters are messed up by the society they grew up in, but if you make them _too_ horrible as a result of that, you risk my not ...more
Ryan McArthur
Aug 31, 2011 Ryan McArthur rated it really liked it
Shelves: library, new-weird
I got this out because I couldn't find mainspring :P
I liked it, kind of reminded me of China Mieville. I didn't like the torture porn though, though it did make sense in terms of the story.
Other than that, it was pretty cool, the descriptions aren't as elaborate as other writers, and you don't get as much background description, but it is good read with a solid story.
Jan 27, 2010 Jim rated it really liked it
Interesting read. Don't know if I like it as well as the books it's compared to (Mieville and Van DeMeer for example) but very interesting indeed. This took me a long time to get into, but once I did it was excelent. I see a book title, Madness of Flowers, that I will have to investigate. I might give this 3 1/2 stars if I could, but decided to round up.

Miki Habryn
Jan 20, 2014 Miki Habryn marked it as to-read
Shelves: default
I really liked this. It's sold as being reminiscent of China Mieville, which to some degree it is, but without quite the same epic grandeur, and it doesn't revel in sordid detail to the same extent. Instead, it does quite a good job of telling a story, albeit a somewhat bizarre one. Lots of fun.
Jun 23, 2008 Amaha rated it really liked it
Shelves: weird-fiction
Brilliant "weird fiction" (i.e., Gothic/urban fantasy) novel that I highly recommend to anyone who likes Perdido Street Station, Dragons of Babel, or Book of the New Sun (yes, Lake manages to combine those three, very disparate, influences and create something entirely new and wonderful).
Noah Stacy
Dec 24, 2008 Noah Stacy rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
Disappointing. Tepid, stiff prose, with a special award for some of the least necessary sex scenes I've had the misfortune to come across. After a hundred and thirty pages or so, I decided to give it up and spend my time on better things.
Mar 22, 2008 Moonglum rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, new-weird
A book with boxed dwarves, cameleopards, debauchery, nuemenal phenomena, torture and other dark sado-mascistic acts, monsters, a matriarchal organized crime family, black sorcery, and old, cthunonic gods-- what's not to like?

Jul 27, 2011 Brandur rated it liked it
A story of a set of characters in the City Imperishable who realize that the Old Gods are trying to return to the city, and who must sacrifice themselves to thwart their return. Gets a little weird.
Jan 16, 2010 Christopher rated it did not like it
I stopped at around 100 pages. I get that it aims at the New Weird--a grotesque update of Zothique, the Dying Earth, or Viriconium, à la New Crobuzon or Ambergris--but it's the worst of the lot.
Bella Crow
Apr 13, 2011 Bella Crow rated it it was amazing
Deeply disturbing on some levels, always complex & cohesive. Imagery stayed with me long after I put the book down. I enjoy Lake more than Mieville as Lake provides redemption & a future.
Lawrence Schoen
Oct 03, 2009 Lawrence Schoen rated it liked it
While the squick factor may turn off some readers, Lake's storytelling is compelling and vivid, his characters three dimensional, and his worldbuilding top of the line!
James Debruicker
Dec 05, 2010 James Debruicker rated it really liked it
Another weirdo fantasy novel. This one explores the nature of myth and ritual and also dwarves. It's decadent, pulp, kinda scary. Very Mieville.
Marshall Vandegrift
Sep 26, 2014 Marshall Vandegrift rated it liked it
Shelves: genre, fantasy, fiction, weird
Fun weird fantasy. Nothing too deep, but some nicely disturbing parts and unexpected twists.
Kelly Flanagan
Jul 13, 2013 Kelly Flanagan rated it it was amazing
Can't get into this one... ashamed, as all of Jays books usually pull me in!
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Jay Lake lived in Portland, Oregon, where he worked on multiple writing and editing projects. His 2007 book Mainspring received a starred review in Booklist. His short fiction appeared regularly in literary and genre markets worldwide. Jay won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, Endeavour Award, and was a multiple nominee for the Hugo and World Fantasy Awards.
More about Jay Lake...

Other Books in the Series

City (2 books)
  • Madness of Flowers

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