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Rojan Dizon #2

Before the Fall

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MAHALA IS A CITY OF CONTRASTS: LIGHT AND DARK. HOPE AND DESPAIR.
Rojan Dizon just wants to keep his head down. But his worst nightmare is around the corner.

With the destruction of their power source, his city is in crisis: riots are breaking out, mages are being murdered, and the city is divided. But Rojan's hunt for the killers will make him responsible for all-out anarchy. Either that, or an all-out war.


And there's nothing Rojan hates more than being responsible.


The fantastic follow-up to FADE TO BLACK!

384 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2013

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Francis Knight

6 books68 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 35 reviews
Profile Image for Dark Faerie Tales.
2,274 reviews544 followers
March 23, 2016
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: All power comes at a price, and with the city falling apart and mages being murdered, Rojan will pay that price to find out who is killing them.

Opening Sentence: “No-Hope-Shitty: the name says it all really.”

The Review:

Rojan and company are back in this great follow up to Fade to Black. Rojan has destroyed the order and now magic flows freely throughout the city. Rojan is using his magic more and more to find more mages like him. This of course is a dangerous dance for him, as the pain magic and the lure of the black, is getting harder and harder to fight each time he taps into his magic. Pasha and Jake are back in this book as well, and other familiar faces from Book 1, although Jake doesn’t play such a dramatic roll. Pasha actually plays a much larger role in this book.

Religion is also is a major player, and Rojan has to walk a terrible line while searching for the killer. Especially since the Inquisition is right behind him, as each murder threatens to rip apart their society, the pressure is mounting from all sides.

Before the Fall was a quick read just like Fade to Black, and it was definitely as dark. Pasha, Jake and Rojan all seem to draw closer in their odd friendship. Pasha and Rojan really build a stronger friendship, which I admit I find a little odd considering some of what happened in book 1, but it is also believable when you understand all the forces going on in this world. So I like that it isn’t some weird kind of triangle. Rojan has feelings for Jake, but he never puts pressure on her or attempts to steal her from Pasha and their odd relationship.

With the power source destroyed, magic is really flowing and the city is on edge and while mages appear to have a little more freedom now, they are also really feared in this world. So the murder mystery may at first glance not seem to fit in the trilogy but it really does make perfect sense. Instead of everything being great after Rojan kills his father who is holding all this power at bay from the majority of the people, the society starts to break as everything they knew is being challenged and someone’s response to this, is to start killing mages.

This a solid follow-up and great second book. I am really excited to read the last book and see how this all ends. While at times I kind of want Rojan to have some romance, the lack of it does appeal to me on some level and this trilogy really focuses on the problems at hand.

Notable Scenes:

“I made a fist and pain spiked through me along with the magic, sweet and alluring, and oh so dangerous.”

“The price of my magice wasn’t pain, it was the threat of falling into the black and never coming out, of losing my fragile sanity to it.”

“I never mean to, but I kill any budding relationship stone dead.”

“They were walking targets, hated by everyone who knew their secret, knew the mark on their wrists, something I hadn’t really realized in my own quest to avoid getting lynched.”

“Few good men survived in the ministry for long.”

“Given that I am a heretic, an unbeliever and a mage to boot, I was feeling fairly vulnerable.”

“She smiled like fallen angels and went for me.”

FTC Advisory: Orbit/Hachette Book Group provided me with a copy of Before the Fall. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
Profile Image for Maris Bave.
201 reviews14 followers
January 10, 2023
I like it more please.

I'm surprised that I'm enjoying a lot of the half-cliches in this book. Was not expecting that. But there's a strong dose of humor and self-depreciation and humanity that I just love.
Profile Image for Paul.
2,101 reviews
November 21, 2015
Having just survived his last set of escapades, Rojan Dizon is aiming to keep his head down, stay out of trouble, and hope that the citizens of Mahala will forget about him. Using his magic he is wearing a disguise so he won’t be recognised.

But things are about to get worse. Much worse.

With the power source gone, the city is spiralling into disaster. The divisions of the two populations in the city are becoming more apparent; disturbances and disorder in the populace are becoming riots, and someone is slitting the throats of the mages. On top of that the city is under threat from its neighbours. It will be anarchy or war or possibly both if Rojan doesn’t find the killers.

This second book in the series builds on what Knight started. The characters are building more layers of complexity now, which helps with the narrative. The plot was a little predictable sadly, but that might be because it is the middle book in a series, and you need some characters to go onto the next book. I do like the dark imposing vertical city that she has created though, with its hidden parts, aerial walkways, and the way that she describes the light filtering down through the levels. The society that she has created is good too, though I wouldn’t want to live there, with the subtle use of magic, the combined state and religion and even though there is this authoritarian regime, it still feels lawless and dangerous. Good stuff. Now to find the third book.
Profile Image for Jennifer Wheeler.
525 reviews70 followers
July 20, 2016
Really digging this storyline. Love the characters, and the dark/gritty atmosphere is fascinating to visualize. The city of Mahala would be amazing to see on the big screen....
Profile Image for Adam Whitehead.
552 reviews128 followers
March 11, 2017
Mahala teeters on the brink of chaos. Private investigator and secret pain mage Rojan Dizon has halted a great evil that was being undertaken in the bowels of the city, but in the process has put the way of life for hundreds of thousands of people in jeopardy. The neighbouring kingdoms are threatening war, the city is weeks away from losing all power and the new Archdeacon finds his position under threat. Dizon, now wearing a different face and name, finds his work cut out for him if he wants to put things right.

Before the Fall is the second novel in the Rozan Dijon trilogy, picking up shortly after the events of Fade to Black and exploring the consequences of events in that novel. I found the first novel in this trilogy to be enjoyable but suffering from some of the problems typically associated with debut novels: inconsistent characterisation and worldbuilding, and a general lack of polish. Before the Fall is, happily, a more coherent and tighter novel. There is much less reliance on eyebrow-raising coincidences, the background is more sharply defined and the novel helps to fix some of the issues from the first, doing a better job of exploring the dichotomy between the city's official line that there is nothing 'outside' the city but people knowing a fair bit about their neighbouring powers.

The novel spends a lot of time examining the consequences of the first book, or what happens after the 'happy ending'. The consequences from Fade to Black are messy, complex and there are no easy answers. Dizon, having played the hero in the first book, finds himself now saddled with the responsibility for these issues and runs himself ragged trying to deal with everything, from a project to provide fresh power for the city to social unrest from the reintroduction of a previously exiled underclass to the city. The fact there are also religious and political forces in opposition to Dizon's operations adds an additional layer of complexity to the plot.

Rather than buckling under the weight of the narrative, Knight is able to tie it into a fairly satisfying whole. Dizon rises to the occasion as a self-appointed administrator and troubleshooter and there is a bit less of the blundering around like a bull in a china shop that was his preferred tactic in the first book (at least until the end, which this tendency reappears). He is certainly a more mature and more interesting character this time around. However, some of the supporting cast - most notably Jake - fade into the background in this volume.

There are some satisfying plot twists, rather than the more implausible ones of the first book, but a few issues remain. The ending feels a bit rushed and Dizon doesn't really resolve things through planning and intelligence but through blind luck, so the ending retains an element of being contrived. I'd like to see Dizon having more agency in actually figuring out how to resolve things intelligently next time around. There's also the over-use of a form of 'kryptonite' discovered in the previous novel which can neutralise mages easily and suddenly all of the bad guys very conveniently have access to lots of it.

Before the Fall (***½) is a big improvement on the previous novel, but still arguably fails to reach its full potential. However, it is still an enjoyable fantasy novel set against a striking backdrop.
Profile Image for Siobhian R. Hodges.
Author 1 book18 followers
February 20, 2021
First of all, I'll admit I never read the first book, 'Fade to Black'. (Me being me, I didn't even realise 'Before the Fall' was part of a trilogy until I got halfway through it!)

'Before the Fall' gave me mixed feelings. Some parts I found slow and I just wanted to see more action (but this may be because I never read the first book and was missing something. Who knows!). Other parts were pleasantly surprising and would have had me on the edge of my seat if I wasn't reading this in bed most nights.

Overall, I really enjoyed 'Before the Fall'. Francis Knight did an amazing job with creating the world within these pages, and I loved the main protagonist's (Rojan Dizon) attitude. The narrative as a whole was also very cleverly written - there were parts I had to re-read because I enjoyed it so much. It made up for the slower parts I slogged through - enough to make me excited to finally read book 1, and eventually complete the trilogy with book 3: 'Last to Rise'.

I would recommend 'Before the Fall' to anyone who enjoys following a strong, humourous character who overcomes obstacles and struggles through a journey that leads to a bitter-sweet, hopeful ending.
Profile Image for Annabelle.
372 reviews3 followers
April 23, 2019
After destroying Mahala's source of power, Rojan and his friends fight to keep the city from plummeting into chaos. Two armies are sat outside their doors, and there are enemies inside the city as well. Can Rojan pull the crumbling city back together?

This is much the same as the first instalment - high stakes action, roguish but ultimately likeable main character, high concept fantasy world. A really enjoyable sequel that deals well with the fallout of the previous book without stalling in the plot department as so many second in series books are wont to do. A fabulous read.
Profile Image for Caleb Hill.
69 reviews
January 22, 2014
“No-Hope-Shitty: the name says it all really.”

Francis Knight's debut earlier last year, Fade to Black, was one of those heavily anticipated novels for me. Besides labeling it as Fantasy Noir and boasting a painful magic system, the cover and general pleasantness of the author is what really hyped the novel for me. I found it leaving much to be desired, but the dark, grimy city left a layer of hope for future installments. Unfortunately, Before the Fall, the second in Francis Knight's Pain Mage trilogy, is a big nosedive.

I believe the biggest problem with it is not only the unsympathetic nature of the narrator, but the way Knight presents Rojan and his thoughts, or better said, the repetition of his negativity. If his quips had been presented with a little more originality or even a little more diversity given on a range of topics, I might have enjoyed the experience a little more. It's evident that Knight has plotted out a stronger story than the previous one. But Rojan hammers on religion, class warfare, racism, and the black. Mostly religion and the black. (Hint: 90%)

Yes, the religion and cynicism rants got on my nerves quickly, if only because we never went a page without having one pop up. It was annoying. Not only that, but every scene is overwritten with internal monologues that fill the pages. For me, a person who loves a good internal debate and description, this was NOT the way to do it.

Maybe it was from the narrative voice that wasn't as compelling as it should've been. Or perhaps all of the telling, not showing. Or the run-ons. Or the lack of a map. Or the repetition. Okay, I might just be grasping at straws here, but there was a problem with this second novel. And I believe it might've been the potential that was squandered.

Dialogue can be great, when it's not delving into loads of lazy profanity. The plot is hidden with some strong twists that caught me off guard, but that's because the majority are predictable. The occasional turn of phrase is nice, but ruined when used as a transition to another scene when a break would've sufficed. It's in the execution that Knight failed, I think, seeing as she has a remarkable world (that very much needs either a map or more world-building), and a simply amazing magic system. Truly, the latter is the series's hallmark. If there was any other reason I kept on going (besides having the 3rd), it was because whenever Rojan needs to dwell deep into the darkness, Knight can write it well. The verbosity is rewarded in these passages, in every squeamish remark.

My question is: Where was this throughout the rest of the book?

I'm not sure.

In summary, if Knight had taken the first and last sentence of each paragraph, and had only those for this book, we would have had a breathtaking second installment. Instead, we have beauty that teeters down into ridiculousness.

“The inside of the mortuary was colder than Namrat's heart, so that our breath formed clouds in front of us and I began to worry for those more important parts of me, that shrunk, scaredy cat, into my trousers.”

I think if Rojan had received more character development that just his hatred for organized religion, his restatements of cynicism, and his pervasive love for thinking with his genitals, then the voice might've flowed more. But what we have is choppy negativity that does nothing, but bore the reader.

At the end of the day, Before the Fall is a predictable, overwritten book with no tension and barely any character development for the entire cast, save till the end. It's slow and borderline insulting with all the repetition (of which I can't repeat enough), and especially with the many, many typos and run-ons from a big name publisher.

Call me crazy, but Pasha should've been the protagonist. At least he was tolerable with some semblance of an arc.
Profile Image for Dimana Atanassova.
Author 2 books28 followers
August 30, 2015
I liked "Fade to Black". In fact, I loved it - it fell one star short of being in my "favorites" list. The premise behind the pain mage and the city of Mahala was fascinating, the book was wonderfully written, especially for a debut, and the sarcastic comments of Rojan Dizon fitted the story perfectly.

So, naturally, I thought the sequel would be even better, especially as it promised to expand the story beyond just Mahala. I didn't like "Before the Fall" - I didn't hate, either, but it just felt kind of... meh, especially compared to "Fade to Black".

What I liked about the book:

- City of Mahala: still a marvelous idea, still captivating with all its layers and how different the inhabitants of each one are
- the writing: Francis Knight does know how to write and she also gives each and every one of her characters a unique and distinctive voice, which makes them feel like real people
- Rojan: he's pretty much the same guy as in "Fade to Black", so if you hated him then, you'll hate him now, as well. He's actually the only character we see evolving (I'll get to that later) - he's less selfish, though still preoccupied with himself. I liked how Knight built his relationship with Pasha and how it eventually evolved into a delicate, though beautiful friendship.

And how about the things I didn't like...

- Rojan's cynicism and moaning about religion. Sure, it was fun and interesting and refreshing the first couple of pages, but his obsession with hating the Goddess, hating the Ministry, hating the structure of Mahala and generally everything else really got on my nerves.
- No character development - I mean, literally, none. Pasha, Jake, Dendall, Perak, Lise, Dwarf and Dench, all of them are the same people they were in "Fade to Black". I have to say, I liked Erlat, though I felt like her character was largely underdeveloped. To me, it seemed like all characters were just one big device to move the plot forward - they all kind of blended with the background.
- I didn't care about the story. In "Fade to Black", I was fascinated with the Little Whores - I wanted to read more about how they came to be and how their past affected the people they became. "Before the Fall" story arch didn't do a thing for me. Sure, we got a glimpse into how the Outer world looked, but not enough to spark my interest. The plot twists weren't entirely predictable, but still didn't feel like major events.
- Who the killer turned out to be.

In general, "Before the Fall" wasn't a bad book, not at all. Knight's writing is still marvellous and the City of Mahala is a captivating place to read about. It seems, however, that the author focused too much on politics and forgot about her characters, which is what made me give the book only 3 stars. I liked Rojan, despite his constant moaning and sarcasm, so I'll definitely read "Last to Rise".
Profile Image for Cathrin Kühl.
Author 11 books9 followers
June 16, 2015
Klappentext

Nach der Zerstörung des Energieversorgungssystems von Mahala kämpft die Stadt mit einer Krise. Aufstände entflammen, Magier werden ermordet und die Stadt spaltet sich in zwei verfeindete Lager. Gleichzeitig wächst die Bedrohung von außen stetig. Rojan bleibt keine andere Wahl, als sich erneut in die Geschicke der Mächtigen einzumischen, denn als Schmerzmagier und Bruder des neuen Erzdiakons kann nur er die Stadt vor der endgültigen Zerstörung bewahren. In einem Wettlauf gegen die Zeit begibt er sich auf die Spur des Mörders und muss sich erneut seiner schlimmsten Angst stellen: für das Schicksal anderer verantwortlich zu sein.

Schreibstil

Auch in Band 2 behält sich Knight ihren klaren und deutlichen Schreibstil. Zwar kommen diesmal nicht wieder so viele großartige und neue Erfindungen hinzu, dennoch bleibt es verständlich. Es fiel mir diesmal sogar leichter, in Mahalas Tiefen abzutauchen.

Charaktere

Rojan entkommt seinem Verhaltensmuster, immer neue Frauen zu umgarnen, was ihn ein wenig sympathischer macht. Zusätzlich wächst die Beziehung zu seinem Bruder, der nun Erzdiakon ist und die Geschicke der Stadt leiten soll. Rojan muss sich erneut für das Wohl aller einsetzen und gleichzeitig gegen das Nichts ankämpfen, was ihn in meinen Augen zu einem starken Charakter macht.

Jake ging mir in diesem Band ein wenig gegen den Strich. Zwar ist und bleibt sie ein konsequenter Charakter, aber ich mag sie nicht mehr. Sie ist eine Kämpferin mit ihren eigenen Ansichten und Methoden, doch hatte ich das Gefühl, sie stagniert in diesem Roman.

Pasha hingegen wächst mir immer mehr ans Herz mit seiner Aufopferungsbereitschaft und seinem Charakterzug, die meisten Dinge offen anzusprechen. Auch er entwickelt sich stetig weiter.

Umgebung

Auch hier wurde ich nicht enttäuscht. Es werden mehrere Schichten Mahalas gezeigt und die Figuren interagieren mit ihrer Umwelt. Das fand ich wieder toll! Doch das System verabscheue ich immer mehr, was, so nehme ich an, beabsichtigt war ;).

Plot

Die Krise um die Energieversorgung verschlimmert sich, sodass Rojan und andere Schmerzmagier gezwungen sind, sich selbst anzuzapfen. Doch dann werden immer mehr Morde verübt und ich als Leserin sah mich mit Rojan zusammen hin- und hergerissen zwischen diesen beiden Plots, die sich dann wunderbar vereinen. Daumen hoch!

Ende

Leider konnte mich das Finale nicht ganz überzeugen. Im Vergleich zum vorangegangenen Band fiel dieses eher schwach aus. Dennoch bin ich total gespannt, wie es in Mahala und mit Rojan weitergeht!

Fazit

4 tolle Sterne für eine spannende Geschichte in einer vielschichtigen Stadt mit sich entwickelnden Charakteren und wunderbaren Freundschaften, die in diesem Band geknüpft werden.

Mehr Rezensionen unter: https://cathrinkuehl.wordpress.com/
Profile Image for JJ DeBenedictis.
190 reviews11 followers
May 9, 2016
This is the second book in a series, and I hadn't read the first, but this held up very well as a standalone. It was a fun, fast-paced story with an anti-hero at its heart. In fact, I'm mentally classifying it as urban fantasy, even though it's set on another world and in a city unlike anything on Earth.

I felt a bit under-educated regarding the world-building, probably due to the fact I hadn't read the first book, but this series is set in a pillar of a city -- a completely-enclosed cylinder with light filtering down the centre of it. As you can imagine, the lower you go, the less-nice of a place it is to live in, and the protagonist is living down in the scummy sections. The setting feels very industrial, even though the technology level is roughly steam-punk and the city is mostly powered by magic.

The protagonist is an atheist in an intensely religious world (to me, the religion seemed like Christianity if you transplanted the Hindu goddess Durga into the middle of it) who is a pain-mage, i.e. he only has magical power at his disposal when he is subjected to pain. He's using this magic to help power the city after the previous book wiped out the pain-mage torture-chambers that were keeping the lights on and the food production going. In the meanwhile, someone is killing pain-mage boys before they can be recruited to help with this task, and the neighbour-states in the outside world are poised to crack the city open and take over while it's weak and starving.

I won't get too much more into the plot. The story itself sometimes tried a bit too hard to make the protagonist seem gritty, and occasionally it felt like he wasn't catching on to the clues as quickly as I was. Also, for a religious place that worships a goddess, the city had an oddly male-dominated society; only men are mages, and seemingly only men hold positions of power. Much like the city's religion, it felt to me like the author had a neat central idea and then packed a filler of familiarity around it that wasn't a particularly good fit.

But despite those few quibbles, this really was a very entertaining book, with lots of action and some very lively and varied characters. It's not deep, but it's solidly enjoyable, and I will definitely pick up more in this series.
Profile Image for Sine.
264 reviews
March 8, 2016
Fazit:

Ein spannender zweiter Teil, der mich auch viel besser in das Buch kommen lassen hat, weil ich den Schreibstil schon kannte.

Bewertung:

Das ist der zweite Band der Reihe.

Und weiter gehts. Ich hatte ja noch alles frisch in Erinnerung, daher kam ich wieder super ins Buch rein. Es wird aber auch am Anfang einiges wiederholt. Ich finde sowas immer gut, da ich eher der vergessliche Typ bin und daher oft etwas brauche um mich dann wieder zu erinnern. Auch in den gewährungsbedürftigen Schreibstil kam ich wieder super rein. Zur Erinnerung, es gibt dort Stadtteile die "Hoffnung" heißen.

Das Buch beginnt einige Zeit später nach Ende des ersten Teils. Es gibt kaum noch Glimm mehr und damit wenig Energie. Dadurch und auch einige andere Ursachen, werden die Schichten gegeneinander aufgebracht. Und Rojan steckt mal wieder mittendrin, der Antiheld. Was ich super finde, was es im ersten Teil nicht ganz so gab, dass es da einige Abschnitte gibt, in denen man wirklich mitfiebert und es so richtig spannend ist. Der erste Teil war zwar spannend, aber nicht ganz so mitfiebernd.

Rojan ist zwar etwas gewachsen im ersten Teil, aber er bleibt seinen Motto trotzdem manchmal treu: viele Frauen. Und dann muss er ja auch noch vor dem Nichts fliehen. Er sucht sich da schon einige Ablenkung, die ich auch gut nachvollziehen kann, auch wenn ich sowas nicht machen würde. Trotzdem hat er auch ein wenig Ehrgefühl und versucht sie alle zu retten. Ich stelle ihn mir ja manchmal grummelig in der Ecke vor, wo er nur trotzig zurück gibt:"Ja, ja, ich mach schon". Schon amüsant mein Antiheld.

Auch die anderen wie Jake, Pasha, Lise, Perak und auch viele weitere sind wieder dabei. Jeder ist wieder auf seine eigene Art sein "Ich". Stellen die Personen wieder alle perfekt da und auch ihre Macken sind gut ausgearbeitet. Auch bei denen mag ich nicht jeden, aber diese sind genauso wichtig wie Rojan.
Profile Image for Richard Bray.
63 reviews4 followers
March 23, 2014
BEFORE THE FALL by Francis Knight and CONTROL POINT by Myke Cole are very different fantasy books — BEFORE THE FALL is an urban noir fantasy, while CONTROL POINT is a military fantasy — but in reading BEFORE THE FALL, I’m reminded of the way I felt after reading CONTROL POINT.

In Cole’s first SHADOW OPS book, I wasn’t a fan of the protagonist, Oscar Britton, but saw a lot of promise in the world and the storytelling. In Knight’s series, the protagonist, Rojan, is also problematic. Rojan is described as an irresponsible womanizer, but we never really see any of this. Through the first two books, I believe he only sleeps with one woman, and the other characters consistently look to him to handle many of their problems, which he does. Rather than showing us how irresponsible Rojan is, we get page after page of Rojan telling us he’s irresponsible and how much he hates organized religion and rich people. By the second book, it’s become very repetitive, and while the character seems to have grown through his experiences, I’d love to see him move on to different talking points.

That being said, I really like the world despite some of the unevenness. Knight has fleshed out the city a little bit, adding details that help explain some confusing aspects from the previous book, and while I don’t always enjoy Rojan, I do like many of the characters around him, especially Jake, Pasha, Erlat and Lise.

It probably falls a bit short of being great, but it was a fast read and I’ll see how it ends with the third book in the trilogy.
May 9, 2016
2.5 stars
The beginning of this book started off really fast but the conclusion fell flat for me.
The basic role of this book was that Dench the leader of a religious sect of warriors known as Specials who serve only the Goddess but are manipulated by the Ministry and another official of the ministry thought that the only way to save the city and bring back power was to accept the Storads (an outside nation) offer for coal. This was why pain mages were killed throughout the city and a generator sabotaged but Rojans brother, the city's ruler saw that if they did accept the Storad's bargain then all of Mahala would have been made slaves of sorts so believed pain magic was the way forward and what made the city special and powerful and in the end they came up with a device to amplify pain without causing the mages too much discomfort.

For me the action and sense of pace was good (I also liked how Rojan's character developed and how he became less self-centered well almost) but towards the end things started to get boring and dull. When Rojan entered Top of The World things also were quite predictable from there on, there just weren't many surprises. I was glad the levels of the city and the laws there were described more and the setting of the vertical city still feels very real. I don't know I can't really explain why the conclusion was a disappointment but I've still got the last book and will finish reading this series..... I never know there might be some surprising turns up ahead....... but after I've seen this authors writing I doubt it.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Cameron.
82 reviews23 followers
January 17, 2015
I felt the writing of this second book of the Rojan Dizon series definitely improved over the first; I want to give it 3 1/2 stars but GR only lets me give it three. The plot was a little more intricate and the pacing better; that is to say I felt that things moved along rather quickly enough without getting too bogged down in exposition (too much of that in the first book), and that overall the plot was a lot tighter. Some of the "reveals" as the main character unfolds the mystery weren't really too hard to see coming, but there were more layers to the characters, I felt, and that added depth to the story overall.

The author has really pulled this story out of the smaller world of the main character in the first book and expanded the world he lives in quite a bit. I really liked a lot of the characterization and how varied and complicated the story became because of that. And I really love the world-building in this city. Like she's done with the characters themselves, the author has developed and built out the world of the characters quite a bit as well. It's even more intricate, confusing, full of mystery and layers of complexity, and full of conflicting emotions than in the first book. I would love to explore this city, upside and down.

While I wasn't too sure I'd continue with this series after reading the first book, I am definitely looking forward to starting the third.
Profile Image for Ruth.
3,861 reviews
August 6, 2013
c2013. FWFTB: Mahala, power, vertical, killers, anarchy. The theme of 'all power comes at a price' is well developed throughout the story and not in a particularly subtle way. I was expecting a tad more character development in this second outing but I did not finish the book feeling that I knew much more about Rojan than I did in the first book. His brother, Perak, was a bit more fleshed out. The bacon-loving main character is still as snarky as ever and the humour remains evident. I think that this may be one of those books that would shine as an audio book. Looking forward to the third book and recommend this one. "The door was one of those secret recessed jobs that are impossible to spot until someone shows you that they're there. As soon as she opened it, the waft of bacon hit me and pretty much removed all rational thought for a while. When I stopped salivating like a starving dog, I noticed where I was."
Profile Image for Josh.
296 reviews3 followers
August 28, 2013
I love this book. Francis Knight has created an amazing world. A city hemmed in by mountains, built up as high as it can go, creating a true under and upper class system. The hero, Rojan Dizon is an hilarious, capable, and flawed character. The dialogue rings true and the plot never slows down. I love Ms. Knight's language and the way she mixes philosophically charged ideas and still manages to not sound pedantic. Her pain-mage magic is very believable and a new take on old ideas. I devoured both books, and I am eagerly awaiting the third. It's nice to have a series of books come out soon after each other, so the reader doesn't have to wait years for the next volume and possibly forget about the others. Francis Knight is a must-read.
Profile Image for Michelle.
738 reviews3 followers
December 15, 2013
Knight is true to the character of Rojan on this second installment, keeping firmly in the voice and soul. She delves more into the political side of things. (Just a personal observation, but it seems to be a fairly common thing for sequels to do so.)
I don't have a problem with the dry voice of Dizon and all his "womanising" (compared to Lynch's Lamora, he's a bit of a lightweight in this department), but it does wear a bit thin when there are so many metaphors. It kind of detracts from the story, slows it down a bit.
There didn't seem to be the impetus of the first in this one, and much of the text is concerned with exposition, ensuring you're following what is happening.
I'm glad the whole class strata trope was fully explored. It was a good one.
Profile Image for Xan.
218 reviews3 followers
July 20, 2013
Second in this amazing series that I stumbled across earlier in the year, I think this one was just as good, if not better than the first. Rojan, a reluctant hero tries to lay low but finds himself compelled by love and guilt to try and find a killer, though it will very likely cost him his sanity if not his life. This novel climbs upwards through the layers to the very top of Knight's Malhalla where the last took us to the very depths. I am anxiously awaiting the next book, and the conclusion to Rojan's story. In the meantime, I have to try and find something else to read, this is one of those books that makes it hard.
Profile Image for Meg.
86 reviews10 followers
July 16, 2013
I love Rojan. Something about the hero whose first impulse is not to be heroic before he goes on to do the heroic thing anyways gives me happy tinglies every time.

Also still loving the dark, gritty feel of Mahala as a city.

We are, however, flirting dangerously with the 'all religion is evil because it is religion' line that a lot of fantasy novels skip merrily over with gay abandon. This worries me. but nowhere near enough for me to not go weak at the knees whenever I'm trying to explain how great these books are
Profile Image for Rachel.
7 reviews
January 19, 2014
This book was recommended for me via Flipboard.

I personally loved this entire trilogy. The dystopian world is gritty and detailed, the storyline is entertaining (while somewhat predictable in places) and the main characters are beautifully flawed and interesting.

While several reviews have hinted at misogyny and potential religious slander, there are plenty of little gems about this book that I loved. An awesome femme fatal, a brilliant bromance between the two main characters and an unexpected twist at the end of the trilogy.
Profile Image for Dean Simons.
336 reviews3 followers
April 24, 2016
Started this book (the middle of a trilogy) over a year since I read the previous instalment. I remembered very little but played detective to recall what came before.

50% of the book little happens in terms of plot progression. Most of the story happens in the last third.

Main character feels shallowly written. He is a shallow character but he feels really two dimensional and grated.

The world also felt under explored.

The last third deserves 3* but the trawl of reading this book to get there leaves me giving it 2*

Will read conclusion to find out what happens.
Profile Image for Nikki Albert.
Author 2 books14 followers
November 12, 2014
The plot was fairly predictable and you knew where it was going before it got there most of the time. I can say that the ending was good, but even there I saw some of it coming. I enjoy the writing and the characters. They stay true to their natures and are well done. Took me a bit to get through it though simply because of the fact you just knew what was going down. I didn't enjoy this one as much as the first book unfortunately.
Profile Image for Kathryn Swan.
8 reviews
November 6, 2015
It was ok. The constant battle with the 'black' was irritating. I felt like it didn't really go anywhere, and the threat from outside the city didn't really concern me at all so I found it hard to believe the urgency. Didn't care that people were being killed. Didn't really follow the ending very well, and I can't remember now how it ended. I can't see what the third book could be about, and I'm not compelled to read it.
Good writing, though, and the characterisation was good.
Profile Image for Martin Owton.
Author 13 books77 followers
July 1, 2013
This is the second book of the Rojan Dizon series and follows straight on from book 1. If you enjoyed the first book then buy this because everything you enjoyed in book 1 is here; the dark humour, the innovative world building etc. At least Rojan gets laid in this book, just before his new girlfriend tries to kill him.
Profile Image for Aaron Advani.
413 reviews7 followers
September 7, 2013
An average follow up to a very very good debut novel.
This time round the author spent far too much time to get the story going, back tracking to things that happened in the first book way too much.
Will give the third book a go when its published to see if this can move forward enough to over come this books short comings.
Profile Image for Lutfu Gonenc.
6 reviews
December 18, 2013
I will keep it simple. I have read/suffered through two of the books.

What I liked and kept me reading:
The city.
Pain magic.
The whole concept really.

What made me want to gouge my eyes out:
The writing style.
All the characters suffer from multiple personality disorder.
The problems could have been solved in the first 50 pages.
Rojan.
The story.
Etc...
Profile Image for Erica Wagner.
20 reviews1 follower
February 14, 2015
A great continuation of the story started in Fade to Black. Rojan is still being Rojan, but there are signs of growth as well. Well written and paced, and Erlat is an intriguing character and a welcome addition to the cast. It definitely left me wanting to see how everything ends up.
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