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The City Stained Red

(Bring Down Heaven #1)

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  2,285 ratings  ·  341 reviews
Long before he was sent to hell, the Aeon known as Khoth-Kapira was the closest thing to a living god the world had ever known. Possessed of a vast intellect, he pioneered many of the wonders that persist in the world that lingered long after he was banished. Nearly every fragment of medical, economic and technological progress that the mortal races enjoyed could be traced ...more
Paperback, 646 pages
Published October 28th 2014 by Gollancz (first published April 17th 2014)
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Kaleb Feel free to jump in! The author made sure to make the two trilogies completely different stories! You won't miss anything if you do not read Aeon's G…moreFeel free to jump in! The author made sure to make the two trilogies completely different stories! You won't miss anything if you do not read Aeon's Gate.(less)
John no, its nothing like gentleman bastards. gentleman bastards is funny, this book is total cry baby on how terrible the human race is .. philosophical r…moreno, its nothing like gentleman bastards. gentleman bastards is funny, this book is total cry baby on how terrible the human race is .. philosophical rambling replaces any story-line. (less)

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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  2,285 ratings  ·  341 reviews

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Robin Hobb
Aug 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I read this book as an Advance Reading Copy. I promise that I never review books that I have not read.

When I first began reading SF and fantasy, back in the Dark Ages when I was a mere slip of a girl, one of the things I most loved about the genre was that often the tales simply engulfed the reader from page one, with no explanation of where one was or what mores to expect. I loved that sensation of sudden immersion and knowing that I knew nothing but had to trust the author to reveal as the tal
Jun 17, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Lenk and his crew were hired to fight for a priest named Miron Evenhands. When the time comes for them to collect their pay, Miron vanishes. In their attempt to find the priest and get their money, Lenk and his crew encounter more than they bargained for.

The City Stained Red literally revolves around Lenk's crew not getting paid. While not getting paid for your work would be devastating for a normal person it seems far too dull a reason for the characters to wade into conflict. When the fighting
Marc Aplin
Oct 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you’ve read Tome of the Undergates you will know roughly what to expect when you pick up a book by Sam Sykes. You take a step away from today’s ‘gritty’ fantasy, that type of fantasy that looks to be ‘like real life, but different’ – i.e. low magic, a couple of beasts that aren’t too far removed from creatures that did indeed exist, and fantasy-upped storylines based on historical occurrences. Where you find yourself is somewhere closer to the fantasy novels of the 1980s/1990s, with character ...more
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3.5 of 5 stars

The City Stained Red is the start of Sam Sykes’ new series called Bring Down Heaven and it takes place in the same “universe” as his Aeon’s Gate trilogy. Happily, you do not have to have read the latter before tackling the former. In fact, I wasn’t even aware that the two series were linked until it was bought up to me by a fellow reviewer. I don’t doubt, however, that if you’ve read Aeon’s Gate you will find this novel’s world and history a
Aug 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
What words even begin to describe Sam Sykes... enigma... charlatan... mystical hobgoblin? I could go on, but thankfully Sykes is also a bloody good writer, and in The City Stained Red he has produced an entertaining and subversive tale that the bards (or reviewers, if your feeling modern today) shall speak of for an age.

I loved many things about The City Stained Red. As an avid follower of Sykes on twitter (your life is not complete if you haven't chuckled at Sam's wit and charm at least once a
Mark Medina
Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Start of a new series following the characters from Aeon's gate. A definite step up from the first trilogy. Sykes' writing has got better. The book felt less padded, but the world had more depth. Less random, more tightly plot focused, but still with a good mixture of action and dark humour. You don't need to have read the previous books, but it does help. More demon fighting and good interaction between characters. Will now read the next book. ...more
Jan 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Fantasy Review Barn

“There is a point at which a man ceases to use his men to secure his own fortune and starts using it to secure the fortunes of others…usually, for himself.”

It can be considered a good sign if only a few pages into a book I am looking around for someone to read passages to. Be it for humor or depth of thought I like to share what I am reading. Usually no one cares, but occasionally a quote is so good it elicits a chuckle from others even without context. The City Stained Red
Nov 28, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The characters are what made the book for me. A killer with an unknown and mysterious past, an elf-like creature who can no longer hear her own kind, another human with things to hide, a priestess with a demonic left arm, a wizard boy desperately trying to prove himself, an a dragonman who is the last of his kind. If that at all sounds intriguing, I would suggest picking it up.
Kevin Lombard
Dec 16, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I went into this with an open mind and an understanding that there were going to be some things I would be slow in catching up on given that I hadn't read the Aeon Trilogy but I'd read reviews that indicated it wasn't necessary. Even given this, it wasn't very long before I knew I'd struggle mightily finding a rhythm with this one. The early chapters were disjointed and episodic and didn't flow logically into the overall storyline until about halfway through the 600 pages. The reader was taken f ...more
Blodeuedd Finland
Oct 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I do like a messed up city, you know, the kind of city where you would never want to live, heck you would not even want to visit. It makes for a good story and a good setting.

In this city things are brewing. It has grown fat on it's on people. Some are rich, some have nothing. Spiders roam everywhere because they are the source of money. There are soldiers from many places, and tensions are high. No one wants to ignite it, but everyone wants the be the ones left standing. And if that wasn't enou
James Schmidt
Oct 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun, action packed book! I enjoyed the story and the characters! I am definitely in for the next books in this series! Also if you don't follow Mr. Sykes on twitter you should, Very entertaining, just like his writing! ...more
Colleen Magee-uhlik
Jun 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Recently, a friend of mine criticized a popular superhero tv show as being boring because it was, according to him, "about perfect people repeating the same plots over and over." That stood out to me, because it got me thinking about the kinds of people we like to read about or watch on our screens, and the kind of stories we like to see them live out. I came to the conclusion that we like imperfect people. Because they're so FUN to interact with. And because where do we ever find perfect people ...more
Mar 04, 2018 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
Is there a plot? It was just one action sequence after another through page 137. Worldbuilding? Why would we need that?

I tried. Twice.
Jan 19, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to do a little something different with my review, so I'm going to review this book as I read it. I've only read; thus far; 7 chapters in THE CITY STAINED RED, and there was enough for me to comment on that I had to put something down.

The book so far is a nice little read, but I do have to agree with some of the previous reviewers. Right out of the gate (no pun intended for the first chapter), we are introduced to a group of "adventurers" (as they call themselves), which is compr
Nov 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
THE CITY STAINED RED is the first book in a new series called BRING DOWN HEAVEN, set in the same world as the AEONS' GATE series. I have now read two books by Mr. Sam Sykes. I enjoyed TOME OF THE UNDERGATES, AEONS GATE book one, a humorous and fun tale showcasing Mr. Sykes' obvious love for the genre and the themes and characters upon which it was built. Ultimately, however, I felt no urgency to pick up the next books and have yet to read them.

I was intrigued though by THE CITY STAINED RED. It t
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
This was like, playing D&D without having to make any decisions or interact socially. I'm lazy and antisocial so this book was a perfect fit for me!

I found the two female main characters really well rounded, and they were my favourites out of the group. <3 Aster is such a derp, and Kataria is now my street harassment retaliation goals. I blame Sam if I get arrested.

The parallel between the insanity of the capitalism and the stupid war in Cier'Djaal was scarily familiar to today's political clima
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Review incoming.
Kari Rhiannon (Moon Magister Reviews)
5 Stars

‘Your employers should consult those who make the corpses. We merely clean up after them. Death is our business, Captain. Business is always good in Cier’Djaal.’

Sam Sykes has to be the first author whose book I've picked up solely based on personality. I used to devour high fantasy, to the point where it was almost all I read, but that did lead to the conundrum where everything I read felt a little…the same? I read a lot of science fiction, young adult, some classics, even a little con
Nov 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Review from Tenacious Reader:

I’m going to come right out and say, this is not quite how I would typically write a review. My reviews are usually filled with my reaction to the book, but this one has more reaction and less detail than normal. So, you’ve been forewarned.

When I started this book I was quite taken and was expecting a very quick read because initially it was. This book has a ton of action and some fun characters that seemed to be in the middl
Apr 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book was freaking fantastic! Sam Sykes has crafted a unique, refreshing epic fantasy book with engaging characters, a well-drawn world, and a complex plot. There was never a dull moment in the book and I can honestly say Sam Sykes deserves much more recognition for his work. The man has this bizarre talent of making the reader feel both elated and sad at the same time while still managing to keep you interested throughout the entire story. It was so good, I actually took the time to read it ...more
G.R. Matthews
Jun 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the sarcasm, the humour, the blunt talk and the action that begins at the beginning and then doesn't let up till the end. ...more
Gritty and grim, and, I bet it has echoes of Mark Lawrence and Abercrombie to some extent in context to the mood and morale of the story and its dubious grey characters. It is also bloodier, filled with dry humour and angst on part of some of the unlikely cast that supports the weight of the story. The pacing was uneven in some places, but, Sam Sykes writes with vigour and wit which kept me turning the pages. What Sykes excelled in is creating the atmosphere of tension, and uncertainty that esca ...more
kartik narayanan
Apr 15, 2021 rated it it was ok
This is an incomprehensible meandering mess which is about 10 times longer than it ought to be. I read the full book since it is authored by Sam Sykes. But naw, skip it.
Feb 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
City Stained Red is a fun adventure with strong characters and exciting action sequences. I would have liked to see a little more depth in the world-building and a richer plot, but this story definitely hooked me early and never let go.

One of my favorite attributes was the differing viewpoint characters. They all had unique perspectives and a distinct feel. Sykes also did a great job developing characters that you care about and want to continue onward in their journey

Recommend this book for fa
Kyle Warner
The City Stained Red might be the first book I’ve read based solely on the author’s social media presence. And that’s not to say that I doubted the book’s quality (I didn’t) or that it didn’t sound interesting (it did). But just that Sam Sykes is one of my favorite personalities on Twitter and it made me curious to read one of his books, even if that book’s genre isn’t my #1 thing (more like a #5). Somehow coming across as both the lunatic and the wise man, Sykes offers wisdom on creative storyt ...more
Dylan Clark
I hadn't heard of Sam Sykes until I stumbled upon his Twitter. Seeing his humor, commentary, and totally serious writing advice, I followed him and I've enjoyed every bit of it. But as with stumbling across any author for the first time, I felt intimidated to figure out which book of his to start with--until one serendipitous day when I saw a tweet of his advising new readers to start with The City Stained Red.

Just before seeing this tweet, I had decided to turn my back on a fantasy series a lot
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
My DND group read this for our book club; I recommended it based on the reviews saying it reads like a DND romp-- which it does, sort of. It's also messy and slow-moving plotwise and riddled with basic craft errors any professional editor should have taken a machete to, like, three drafts ago. (Headhopping!!!!! unnecessary filtering!!!!! WHY WAS THERE HEADHOPPING IN THIS PUBLISHED BOOK.) Five of us read this and NONE of us came up with net positive feelings (there was MUCH angry group chat yelli ...more
Nov 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Sam Sykes talked me into buying his book on Twitter, with his very entertaining "Buy my book," twitter campaign. I'd never picked up one of his books before and, quite frankly, had no idea who he was when I started following him on Twitter. All that to say, I had no idea what I was getting into when I bought this book, other than that it was fantasy and that its author is entertaining on Twitter. Purchasing it was an experiment, and I have to say I have enjoyed the results.

As promised by Sykes,
Greg (adds 2 TBR list daily) Hersom
From the title and premise of this book I expected to like it but I was surprised by how much I liked it.
Lenk and his band of adventurers have come to largest city and trading center of their world, chasing money due. For Lenk, this is to be his last job and he hopes to put up his sword forever. For the others, coming to the city of Cier'Djaal all means something different for each of them. However, as we know how laid plans go; it's all up for grabs when the all the factions in control go to w
Sadir S. Samir
Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The City Stained Red is a novel that heavily focuses on the characters and not so much about a clear plot. You get to follow them around as they try to figure out their place in the city (and in life), and it works very well since the characters are fully developed with clear motivations for their actions.

The characters themselves are an interesting bunch of broken people (and a Dragonman). The dynamic between them is fun and interesting, and I especially enjoyed their distinct voices. Sam Syke
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Sam Sykes is the author of Tome Of The Undergates, a vast and sprawling story of adventure, demons, madness and carnage. Suspected by many to be at least tangentially related to most causes of human suffering, Sam Sykes is also a force to be reckoned with beyond literature.

At 25, Sykes is one of the younger authors to have arrived on the stage of literary fantasy. Tome Of The Undergates is his fir

Other books in the series

Bring Down Heaven (3 books)
  • The Mortal Tally (Bring Down Heaven, #2)
  • God's Last Breath (Bring Down Heaven, #3)

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