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The Hidden City (The House War #1)

4.07  ·  Rating Details ·  1,317 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
The incredible story that fans of The Sun Sword series have been waiting to read-the battle for control of House Terafin-from a writer of "talent and depth."*

Orphaned and left to fend for herself in the slums of Averalaan, Jewel Markess- Jay to her friends-meets an unlikely savior in Rath, a man who prowls the ruins of the undercity. Nursing Jay back to health is an unus
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Hardcover, 624 pages
Published March 4th 2008 by DAW
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Nevada I highly recommend this series, and the Sun Sword series. Michelle West knows, better than anyone else I've read, how to write a strong female, every…moreI highly recommend this series, and the Sun Sword series. Michelle West knows, better than anyone else I've read, how to write a strong female, every kind of strong female (no TSTL heroines here!) and make them be central to the plot and movement of the story.

To answer your question, you can read books 1 and 2 without spoilering anything for yourself from The Sun Sword series. The House War series, does not require that you have read any of the other books either, it gives you enough information to know what's what. Book 3 of The House War series will pick up after The Sun Sword series. I think that reading books 1 and 2 before TSS will actually make some of the references in TSS have a richer meaning for you.

Hope this helps, and happy reading!(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Audrey
Oct 05, 2014 Audrey rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Violettebird
Oct 08, 2015 Violettebird rated it it was ok
Amazon says this book is 768 pages. If that's accurate, then this book is a criminal waste of space.

The entire plot is: Jewel finds an orphan and takes them home. Rath makes a :/ face. There is some allusion to the kids being ~important~, but no actual proof. Rinse, repeat, add in some vague conspiracy stuff involving a child brothel.

But after ten? Twelve? orphans, they still don't get any personality. We don't know their favourite colours, we don't know their backgrounds (because asking about
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Brad
Mar 17, 2010 Brad rated it it was amazing
I don't know what this will be like for future readers who take all of these books in internal chronological order. Me, I've read all the other related series already. So even on the first time through, the plot was something like coming back to a book you've already read. If you're not someone who ever does that, maybe this won't do all that much for you. But why I reread books - why I'm rereading this one right now, actually - is for the writing and the characters. And the more time we spend w ...more
virgodura
Aug 17, 2015 virgodura rated it really liked it
Bitchy Aragorn adopts a Circle of Magic kid (who can see the future, and is determined to save all the other street kids, resulting in Bitchy Aragorn being saddled with many kids). Plus schemes and demons and hidden cities.
Starfire
Apr 01, 2010 Starfire rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who liked the Sun Sword set
Recommended to Starfire by: Orannia
Shelves: 9-10
Back when I used to post my book reviews on my LJ, whenever I reviewed a book by Michelle West (regardless of the name she was writing under at the time - West, Sagara, or Sagara West), I'd preface the review with a warning that this was my absolute favourite fantasy author *EVER* so the reader could take it as read that I'd love the book, and that any review that followed would be glowingly positive because... well... that's just how things are.

I wasn't *quite* sure if that would still be the c
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Yehudit
2.5 stars.

Well, in one word, I would have to call this tedious.

First, let me just mention what I did enjoy: I appreciated how imaginative the writing was, and also how much effort was put throughout the book into characterization.

Now, this book was all about characterization, and almost nothing else, so there was no way I could have finished it if I didn't enjoy even that much of it. I am all for character-driven stories usually, however, I did feel like character development, or even character-
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wishforagiraffe
Apr 17, 2015 wishforagiraffe rated it it was amazing
This book was really excellent. The main characters are a 10 year old girl and a 40ish man who used to be a noble and has given that up to live in the slums of his city. He meets the girl when she tries to pickpocket him, and even though he prefers to be alone, he ends up taking her under his wing. She ends up being more than she seems and they end up getting involved in a strange mire of circumstances. There is an incredible amount of tension and suspense in this story, and the writing and pros ...more
Aildiin
Dec 20, 2012 Aildiin rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, novels
It's been years since I last read a novel by Michelle West and I had forgotten how good a job she does at making you like the people that populate her novels.
No big battle, no great quest in this novel, just the storie of a 10 year old orphan girl gathering others orphans around her. And was I enthralled..
I can see how this could not appeal to everyone but a solid 4 stars for me.
The only thing that bothers me is that I read the Sunsword serie more than 10 years ago when it came out and this new
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Shannon
Mar 12, 2011 Shannon rated it it was amazing
So amazing. I am still shaky from the emotional involvement in this book. Character driven epic fantasy like this is hard to find, had to write well, and hard to pace properly - I feel like this one hit all the right buttons with me. I'm both excited and terrified of what the next book will bring.
Lisa
Apr 06, 2013 Lisa rated it really liked it
Series are always an investment-both of time and money. This is the start of the House Wars series, but I won't be finishing it. The ending was a bit disappointing, and the plotline alluded to in the title (the "hidden ruins" in the book flap description) is given short shrift. But Rath and Jewel are complex, compelling characters. I love that Jewel isn't sanctimonious in her goodness, and that Rath isn't cliche in his cynicism. The story was good enough that I wanted to see it continue.

So imagi
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Sbuchler
Aug 22, 2008 Sbuchler rated it really liked it
Genre: Well, the series will be Epic Fantasy... but this book only sorta, certainly Heroic Fantasy ;-)

This book is set in the same world as the _Sun Sword_ series and the _Sacred Hunt_ series. In fact the heroine of this book, Jewel Markess, appears in both the previous series. The _Sun Sword_ books leave a 30-something Jewel on the brink of a lethal struggle for the rule of House Terafin. Unfortunately (since I really want to know what happens in that story line) this book revolves around the 1
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Cyn Armistead
Aug 17, 2008 Cyn Armistead rated it really liked it
I love love love this book. If you haven't read anything else in this universe, you'll be just fine. I've read all the previous books, and plan to go back and re-read them as soon as this bit (duology? triloy? I don't know West's plans) is done.

The only thing that kept it from five stars was the repetitive nature of some characters' internal dialogues. I got the point right away, but I suppose some readers might need more. I don't know that anyone needs to be hit over the head with Rath, Jewel,
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Madeline
Much darker and grittier than the other novels under the West name, and there was some seriously dark stuff in some of those. I would definitely recommend beginning with The Hidden City, and not only because it is chronologically first. (So far. Oh dear...)

Coming to The Hidden City with knowledge of what happens to these characters - who lives, who dies, who changes, who doesn't - makes it a very poingnant read. It also makes it difficult.
Pam ☼Because Someone Must Be a Thorn☼ Tee
While the characterization is very good, it is the overall writing that makes this book extraordinary. So much so that I forgave the book it's somewhat hackneyed 'kids join together to combat evil' theme.

Btw, not a book for those who want happy-la-la endings. There is some grit here. Nice dark tones.

Dr susan
Sep 20, 2013 Dr susan rated it really liked it
I was going to say I enjoyed The Hidden City, but 'enjoyed' feels wrong. The House War saga is darker than the Chronicles of Elantra, and the multiple points of view made it difficult to find a character to which I could relate. Perhaps I was enthralled, since enthrallment can be a shadowed thing. I am glad my love of Sagara's Silence led me to Elantra, and then to the House War.
Jai
May 04, 2015 Jai rated it really liked it
Scholar with a soft spot for a newly orphaned girl, picks her up and a whole adventure starts from there
Valerie
Jul 27, 2014 Valerie rated it it was amazing
Five stars for The Hidden City! The first installment of the House War series is a beautiful and heartbreaking tale of one orphan girl who fights to survive in a city filled with danger and secrets, and who strives to transform a group of broken, forgotten children into the strongest of families: one bound together by love, loyalty, and hope. Don't miss out on this dark and compelling story filled with the magic of fantasy and the heart and complexity inherent in humanity.



The Hidden City is anot
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Neha Agarwal
Oct 19, 2015 Neha Agarwal rated it it was amazing
oh, this book was a bad influence on me! I started reading it the evening before an important exam. And I do mean important. I just needed to relax a bit. I went through the whole book that night and still couldn’t stop, so ended up reading the second book and some of the third as well. And then it was 6 ‘o clock in the morning and I had to get ready to leave for the exam and I hadn’t slept for a millisecond. I somehow passed the exam (barely) and still I came home and picked up right where I’d ...more
Heather Pearson
Mar 19, 2015 Heather Pearson rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian
Have you ever wanted to escape into a world that is different from ours, but still familiar? A world where magic exists, but is limited in it's approved uses? Where life is simpler? If you have answered yes, then its time for you to visit Averalaan. This is a city (country?) ruled by twin kings and by the 12 main family houses. It consists of the Isle where the wealthy ruling class reside and the mainland which is divided into 100 holdings (neighbourhoods?) not all of which would be considered ' ...more
Viridian5
Nov 25, 2011 Viridian5 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I read Michelle West's Sun Sword series as it came out, which means that I read the first book in about 1997 and the final, sixth book in about 2004. Each book was huge. This means that I don't remember enough about Jay and her den to know how well prequel The Hidden City hooks into existing continuity. It stands on its own, though, which is a relief.

I do remember being annoyed that the latter books of the Sun Sword series stopped mentioning anything about the House War that had been a thread i
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LOL_BOOKS
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Soorya
Apr 26, 2014 Soorya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 because I feel Michelle West has the ability to do way better.

I initially really liked this book - it had strong narrative pull, compelling characters and tantalizing hints of the world's past. West's fragmented prose style takes some getting used to, but it does lead to some good passages, so she clearly has talent. Here's one example:

The rain was thin and fine. The air that left their lips hung before them like something that yearned to be fog. He could taste the s
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Rosu Aquabutts
Jul 31, 2012 Rosu Aquabutts rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I really liked it."

So very almost a five-star.

RRRRR I'm too braindead to write a good review right now and that sucks because I have so much to SAY about this book, but hopefully I'll come back to it later and flesh it out (I won't) (I never do.)

Super short version: it is VERY PONDEROUSLY PACED and MUCH LONGER THAN IT REALLY NEEDS TO BE, but I've been reading a lot of rapid fire short books and I WANTED something with a lot of padding and stuff. The writing style strays a liiiittle close to pur
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Firecat
Jan 18, 2016 Firecat rated it did not like it
I don't normally write reviews on books, but I have to vent a little. I liked this book right up until a chapter or two before the end. While the author didn't come out and say it or write a scene about it, there was a pretty obvious child rape that happened. Not only that, we have another character standing by... who went through the same damn thing... listening to it happen, and in addition to doing nothing to stop it, actually enjoying what's going on. This is not in any way okay. I didn't re ...more
Nevada
May 15, 2015 Nevada rated it really liked it
Michelle Sagara West has a way of writing characters that tap into your empathy and just burrow there to it's depths. I don't think I've ever read a character of hers, including side characters, that I didn't have some kind of interested response to. This book is no different.

If you have read the The Sun Sword series, you are very familiar with Jewel Markess and her Den, if you haven't don't worry - it's not necessary. This is the story of Jewel, Jay, and how she becomes the woman you encounter
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Ken
Apr 26, 2009 Ken rated it really liked it
This books takes us back to West's world which started in the Sacred Hunt series, and continued in The Sun Sword series. We are taken to revisit on characters history, Jewel Markess. We see how she found her Den and we see, I can only guess, the beginings of the Demon attack on the city mentioned in the Sun Sword series.
Again, I really enjoyed West writing style. She only concerned herself with Jewel and the Den, no real large overall threat to the world as we know it, just the safety of her kid
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WillowBe
Never let it be said, that Ms. West is an author who takes the easy way out. No, she takes you on the hardest of journeys, and shreds your heart in two. And doesn't put it back together again. Wait til ou get to the next book. All you people who complain that the author " Never lets the important characters die" Well, let's see how much you really like that sort of thing, shall we? but again, that's in book two, City of Night. The only reason I give it 4 stars is that like Rath, I'm not so hot o ...more
Veronica
Sep 05, 2013 Veronica rated it liked it
I enjoyed it, but I'm not sure why. It felt like the very interesting first half of a book. The main character meets the plot point and takes care of her, being drawn into her way of doing things against his will or even notice. The plot point gathers a group around her. They are special somehow, chosen, obviously. The final piece arrives amidst the unveiling of the supernatural, and the plot point tries to make this jagged piece fit into the mosaic of their lives. And finally, through trial and ...more
Gene
Dec 14, 2012 Gene rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, fiction
This book toyed with my emotions with events that really disgusted me. There were parts that made me angry (and I'm admittedly a bit cranky, now.) Perhaps that's the mark of good writing when you can get your readers to bond with your characters, then pull their emotions out so strongly.

I enjoyed most of the characters in The Hidden City, with Rath and Jewel being my favorites. Most of them were developed well. They have decent backstories and they change as a result of the events in the book. T
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Kaylee
Mar 17, 2014 Kaylee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story itself was interesting and fun to read. That said, I needed a long time to get into the writing, and even then, I was jarred by the random sentence fragments. West definitely has a voice -- normally I nestle right into an author's voice; not sure why I struggled so hard to do that with this book.

Also, while the story is told from a narrator's point of view, it often focuses on one of the two main characters' perspectives. As the book went on, though, that focus would jump randomly to a
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See also:

Michelle Sagara West
Michelle Sagara

Michelle is an author, bookseller, and lover of literature based in Toronto. She writes fantasy novels as both Michelle Sagara and Michelle West (and sometimes as Michelle Sagara West). You can find her books at fine booksellers.

She lives in Toronto with her long-suffering husband and her two children, and to her regret has no dogs.

Reading is one of her
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More about Michelle West...

Other Books in the Series

The House War (7 books)
  • City of Night (The House War, #2)
  • House Name (The House War, #3)
  • Skirmish (The House War, #4)
  • Battle (The House War, #5)
  • Oracle (The House War, #6)
  • War-Tentative Title (The House War, #7)

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“Trying," he said at last, "is good. It always is. But failing? Everyone fails, one time or another. It's how you deal with failure that counts, in the end. It's the successes that you're known for-but it's the failures make you what you are.” 16 likes
“You’ll learn, girl. These aren’t scars. They’re nothing. The scars you carry with you? The ones that never leave? They’re all in here.” She’d tapped her chest. “Regret,” she said softly, “for the things you didn’t do. Or the things you couldn’t do. They haunt you enough, and you see things like this,” and she put her hand to her neck, “and they mean nothing.” 1 likes
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