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The Hidden City

(The House War #1)

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  1,505 ratings  ·  102 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
Hardcover, 615 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

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4.09  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,505 ratings  ·  102 reviews

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Apr 01, 2010 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
Oct 05, 2014 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 08, 2015 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
Mar 17, 2010 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
Aug 17, 2015 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.
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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-
Apr 17, 2015 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
Dec 20, 2012 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
Mar 12, 2011 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.
Cyn Armistead
Aug 17, 2008 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,
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 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.
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ebook, fantasy, abuse
It is hard to review this book. Let's begin with this: I really, really liked it.

But like all first books in a series - and particularly with a fantasy series (it is so much easier with fiction, because the author doesn't have to establish the particulars of the world when it exists in our real world) - there is a lot of world-building, and character establishing (and this book introduces a HUGE number of core characters). That means that it is weighty, and at times a little slow. But it never f
Jul 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series
This is a terrible book. A wonderful book. An awful book, at times. Frequently a tedious book. I had to poke myself to continue at times, and I would put it down and read something lighter...but I couldn't stand to let it be. I wasn't really happy at all with the ending, so less one star. I need a soaking, steaming bath before I try the next book.
Neha Agarwal
Oct 19, 2015 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
Apr 06, 2013 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
Aug 22, 2008 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
Rosu Aquabutts
Jul 31, 2012 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
May 15, 2015 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
I listened to this excellent story by Michelle Sagara, then writing under the name Michelle West.

A coming of age or more accurately a bildungsroman tale of a girl (Jay, or more formally Jewel), age 10, orphaned a few months before the story begins, living in a city without what we today optimistically call a "safety net." She finds a place for herself under a bridge. She is gifted with just the tiniest bit of foresight, which has helped her so far to distinguish between those who could afford to
Aug 27, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I hate rating the book this low, because I love the Sun Sword series and the Hunter's Oath duology. Plus, there's actual information/characterization of Rath here!

But. The entire thing with Jewel and her den? Already done, ad nauseum, in Hunter's Death and the Sun Sword series. Why there needed to be SO MUCH DETAIL on them YET AGAIN I do not know. I waver between liking Jewel in the Sun Sword books and wanting to smack her for being a willful idiot (learn to use your powers! Quit letting them us
Apr 26, 2009 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
Dec 14, 2012 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
May 04, 2015 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
Jan 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
A really pleasant surprise. My first book by West, and pleased she has an extensive back catalogue for me to work my way through.

Robin Hobb-esque character-driven epic fantasy, done well (though not *quite* as mean to the characters as Hobb is) - of which there is far too little. The entire plot is essentially about found vs blood family, done in a way I've not often read before in fantasy. Perhaps not quite enough plot for the amount of character and worldbuilding in the book (it's about 150 pa
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Are you a fan of Glen Cook's Black Company? If so, this book is likely for you. Ms. Sagara-West's style could be compared to a blend of Fritz Leiber and Joe Abecrombie, but her touch is her own. Plenty of plot summaries abound, but allow me to sing praise for style, plot, world development, and characters that pray on you imagination.

As regards our heroine, Jay:
“Still, the best augurs are those who divine from the portents of the past. They compile phenomenal records.”
― Glen Cook, The Black Co
Oct 01, 2017 rated it liked it
I don't usually leave reviews for books, but this book was so pleasing and so frustrating at the same time. The writing was great, the characters were pretty good, the overall theme was good even if it was confusingly executed. Mostly, my biggest complaint was that up until the last page I felt like I had no idea what was happening.
Dec 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I read voraciously and can say this is the best yarn I have read in a while! Characteristic as good as Nix and Jordan and Martin. The world building is awesome as well. Can't wait to read The next installment!
Feb 02, 2018 rated it it was ok
DNF -- For some reason it just didn't work for me.
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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

Other books in the series

The House War (8 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)
  • Firstborn (House War #7)
  • War (The House War, #8)
“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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