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City of Lies (Poison Wars, #1)
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Archive [FBR Monthly Book Club!] > October 2018 - City of Lies by Sam Hawke

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message 1: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new) - rated it 2 stars

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7427 comments Mod
The October 2018 FBR Book Club Winner is:

City of Lies (Poison Wars #1) by Sam Hawke
City of Lies by Sam Hawke

This read will start October 1, 2018 and will be available throughout the month. The discussion will take place in this thread.

Thank you Virginie, for your great nominations! :)


Virginie | 5795 comments Yay! I'm so excited for this!


message 3: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new) - rated it 2 stars

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7427 comments Mod
I am too - I've seen a couple of praising reviews that says it delivers on everything you'd hope it will be haha.


Shae | 372 comments Awesome - this is on my TBR shelf, I'm in :-)


message 5: by Hailee (new) - added it

Hailee | 2601 comments This arrived in the post this morning so I'm in!!


message 6: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new) - rated it 2 stars

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7427 comments Mod
Nice!!! My library bought a copy and I have a first in line suspended hold - this is happening!!


Solseit | 1460 comments I bought this book seeing great comments about it. I did not realize we were going to have a buddy read and I will be in!


Shae | 372 comments Hooray - picked up a copy of this today as part of a special promotion at my local bookstore, winning!


message 9: by Hailee (new) - added it

Hailee | 2601 comments One of my favourite readathons is holding a round unexpectedly at the beginning of October so I am having to rearrange my schedule a bit so I will be reading this after 15th October rather than starting it on the 1st like I planned.


Virginie | 5795 comments Starting! :D


message 11: by Shae (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shae | 372 comments Just started too :-)

Wow, the opening line of chapter 1 hooks you in right away!


message 12: by Virginie (last edited Oct 02, 2018 03:55AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Virginie | 5795 comments Yes, it really gripped me! I also like the poison description at the beginning of each chapter.

Chapter 1 was very engaging. I'm really curious and eager to read the rest now :) (view spoiler)


Solseit | 1460 comments I am going to start today!!


message 14: by Shae (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shae | 372 comments Yes, I really like the poison descriptors too!

I agree that the main characters are very likeable. The siblings, Jovan and Kalina, are both young yet very dedicated in their areas of responsibility.

I like that the siblings are not perfect, each has an aspect of physical/mental health that they have to work with. They are clever and determined, yet things do not come easily. This makes you really feel for them, you want them to succeed :-)

And yes, plenty of suspicious characters around too!


message 15: by Charlie (new) - added it

Charlie (charlieridley) | 4490 comments I'm waiting for this book to arrive in the post so I probably wont be able to start it until next week but I'm really looking forward to it!


message 16: by Anni (last edited Oct 02, 2018 10:23AM) (new)

Anni | 5020 comments Is someone doing this on audio? Do you like it? I'm thinking about joining as well but I can't squeeze in another physical read...


Gavin | 182 comments I just started this one so I'll be sure to pop into this thread to see what you guys are making of the happenings. I'm audio only for this one so cannot really comment myself as I've no idea where I am in the story!

Is it weird I felt bad for that poor animal from pretty much the moment it was introduced? (view spoiler)

I think I'm around the 10% mark and still not sure if I'm enjoying the story or not. The locals have a weird culture that is more misandristic than your average misogynistic society setting so that feels fresh but I still hate it as they just have different bigotries we have to put up with!


message 18: by Shae (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shae | 372 comments Happy to have your input Gavin :-)

I felt sorry for the animal too!

Haha, 'misandry feels fresh' 😂

There also appears to be a class system (landholders and farm labourers) - generally, this does not bode well for the foundation of a content society. Be interesting to see where this goes :-)


Virginie | 5795 comments Sir Anni wrote: "Is someone doing this on audio? Do you like it? I'm thinking about joining as well but I can't squeeze in another physical read..."

I'm doing audio, and am really enjoying it. I like both the narrators :)


Gavin | 182 comments Empress Virginie wrote: "Sir Anni wrote: "Is someone doing this on audio? Do you like it? I'm thinking about joining as well but I can't squeeze in another physical read..."

I'm doing audio, and am really enjoying it. I l..."


I have to admit I'm not loving the audio narrators for this one. I like Dan Morgan a bit more than Rosa Coduri but I do not think either one is doing a great job with the character voices.


Gavin | 182 comments Shae wrote: "Haha, 'misandry feels fresh' 😂..."

Misandry is common enough in fantasy but not at the level we have seen in this society. I do feel like it offers a fresh take which is turning out to be both a good and a bad thing for me lol.

The classism and general bigotry are my big issues with Hawke's new society for sure. Hopefully I'll warm to the characters a bit more and that will help me get sucked into the story to the point where I can forget a bit about the world building elements that irritate me.


message 22: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new) - rated it 2 stars

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7427 comments Mod
Still looking forward to joining this one. My copy should get here any day!


message 23: by Shae (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shae | 372 comments Up to chapter 11 - the tension that has been building steadily, is now quite palpable.

@Gavin - it seems that the issues of cultural/racial inequality were intended to discomfort the reader. It'll be interesting to see where this goes.


Gavin | 182 comments I'm not totally sure where I am chapter wise with this one but I've tipped past the halfway point in the audio. I think I'll just have to admit that I'm never going to love this book. Too many things leave me feeling frustrated rather than intrigued. I'll probably still finish but I was hoping for a lot more from City of Lies as it was my most anticipated fantasy debut of 2018:(

Shae wrote: "@Gavin - it seems that the issues of cultural/racial inequality were intended to discomfort the reader. It'll be interesting to see where this goes...."

Oh I agree and it can work if the pay-off is good but my issues go beyond the inequality on show. I'm having a problem liking any of the characters due to all the bigotry and prejudice.

Spoilers for up to 55% (view spoiler)

My other big issue is the fact that I do not feel like the secondary characters are making much of an impression on me. I forget who they are most of the time and need prompted by a reminder of their past actions or role in the story. It has been years and years since I failed to retain so little about characters in a book I was reading. They are all just so bland and forgettable!


Virginie | 5795 comments Picking this up in ebook after setting it aside for a few days; I just don't have lots of audiobook time recently :/


message 26: by Shae (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shae | 372 comments @Gavin - Yes, this does feel more like a fantasy mystery rather than a fantasy with magic. It's definitely not as grim or action packed as a lot of the adult fantasy that is written these days. Something a bit different, which I'm enjoying just for a change :-)

I agree that the 3 main characters are quite likeable and well intended, but naive.

I think this is a reflection of the fact that they are still quite young and were not really expecting to have to take on their responsibilities quite so soon. Ignorance is bliss - until it's not!

I think the reader is meant to feel a bit of frustration with them, then hopefully observe their growth under pressure cooker circumstances.

Although this is not a YA book, it does sort of have a few coming of age themes.

The character point of view I'm most enjoying reading is that of Kalina - she's quiet, thoughtful and observant. She seems to be waking up to what is going on around her :-)


Gavin | 182 comments Shae wrote: "@Gavin - Yes, this does feel more like a fantasy mystery rather than a fantasy with magic. It's definitely not as grim or action packed as a lot of the adult fantasy that is written these days. Som..."

I've read a bunch of fantasy mystery books in my time and enjoyed them so that is not an issue for me:) I love WoT so the slow pace is not a big problem either lol. Hmmm...I'm not sure I'd agree that this one was not grim. (view spoiler)

I think the reader is meant to feel a bit of frustration with them, then hopefully observe their growth under pressure cooker circumstances.

That is my hope. I just wish the journey was proving less frustrating for me;)

Can you believe Kalina has not made much of an impact on me yet? I like her as she seems nice enough but she has just not really managed to grab my attention. In fairness I only like her brother a tiny bit more due to his (view spoiler)


Jeremy Olsen | 6 comments Hi, just joining in here because I read this book recently and my partner didn't finish it so is no good to discuss it with! she likes things a bit YA, young and fast and less introspective than this. I really loved it.

Shae I definitely agree that it was refreshing to find a fantasy mystery and the lack of grimness really appealed to me. I don't think it's slow paced, but the things happening are often more in the nature of increasing tension for the particular characters. I also definitely feel that the author is making us uncomfortable with this society on purpose, like the characters we are slowly realising that everything is messed up. Hence the title I guess!

Gavin what you said above about the society being misandristic, what did you mean? In what way are men mistreated?

Shae I also really love Kalina. I get so bored of 'tough girl' female characters who are the only woman who does 'men things' and here she is strong and interesting in such a different way.


Gavin | 182 comments Jeremy wrote: "Gavin what you said above about the society being misandristic, what did you mean? In what way are men mistreated?..."

I'll stick my reply in spoiler tags even though it is mostly just stuff that we learn about the world building early in the story. (view spoiler)


Jeremy Olsen | 6 comments Gavin wrote: "Jeremy wrote: "Gavin what you said above about the society being misandristic, what did you mean? In what way are men mistreated?..."

I'll stick my reply in spoiler tags even though it is mostly j..."


I wondered if you meant that, but that's not discriminating against men, is it? It's just a consequence of their being no marriage. Men still get to raise children, they raise their sisters or nieces children, in fact they seem to have an elevated position over what fatherhood is in modern western society. There isn't any indication that women are more important than men or that there aren't any jobs or activities that men can't do. They just group up families differently.


message 31: by Shae (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shae | 372 comments @Gavin - lol, yes, the performance of an audiobook narrator can sometimes affect the enjoyment of a story - for better, or worse :-)

I managed to find a physical copy of this book on a promotional special (yay!) at my local bookstore, I guess this gives me some scope to imagine the character 'voices' in a more favorable light :-)

Sorry to hear the character's aren't really growing on you - I totally understand, it's a bummer when that happens :-(

@Jeremy - I've just reached chapter 20 - whoa! Kalina just got even more interesting :-)


Gavin | 182 comments Jeremy wrote: "I wondered if you meant that, but that's not discriminating against men, is it? ..."

Yes that is exactly what it is. Just because a practice is state endorsed and culturally accepted by the majority does not make it any less discriminatory. If a man wanted to play a part in raising his child he would have no rights to do so in this society. You make the point that most would not due to cultural indoctrination and that is a fair point but I bet most is not all and what about the rights of foreigners who have cultures more aligned with those were are familiar with? Those guys are also floating down a brown looking creek with nary a paddle in sight!

It's just a consequence of their being no marriage.

It is more than that since males cannot produce heirs to carry on the family line. I'm only at the 60% mark in the story so it is hard to comment too much on the topic as I've only really learned about the upbringing of Taim and the family of our main two main characters. Given that both are members of only 12 ruling families their practices might be atypical of the average family.

Men still get to raise children, they raise their sisters or nieces children, in fact they seem to have an elevated position over what fatherhood is in modern western society.

I'm not quite sure how you came to that conclusion? Plenty of men take an active role in parenting and a few are even the sole parent in a child's life in modern western society. Though I do take your point that males are not excluded from parenting in this society. They just have no rights to their own offspring.

One thing I'd love to learn is what happens to orphans in this society? Given the emphasis put on the family bonds I'd imagine orphans are viewed as the lowest members of society. Would be fun to see this topic explored.

There isn't any indication that women are more important than men or that there aren't any jobs or activities that men can't do. They just group up families differently.

That the discrimination against men is less prominent throughout every day life in the city of Silasta than discrimination against woman is even in modern western society does not negate the fact that in the instances I mentioned the discrimination is present and fairly significant.

Makes for interesting reading so I'm not against Hawke creating a whole new society with its own complexities. It makes a fresh change from most authors just using historical templates from our own world. I just wish it had been executed in a way that was not leaving me so annoyed and frustrated by everyone!


Gavin | 182 comments Shae wrote: "@Gavin - lol, yes, the performance of an audiobook narrator can sometimes affect the enjoyment of a story - for better, or worse :-)

I managed to find a physical copy of this book on a promotional..."


Were you struggling with the audio? I'm not a giant fan of the narrators for this one but they are definitely tolerable.

I do not dislike the characters. The main three seem a likeable group. I'm just more frustrated with some of their choices and beliefs. I'm not a fan of the love interest though!

Things are improving a bit in the second half of the story so hopefully I'll be happier with this one by the time it ends.


message 34: by Shae (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shae | 372 comments @Gavin - I listened to a sample of the audiobook and then decided a physical copy was the way to go, for me, on this one :-)

Fingers crossed for remainder of this story :-)


message 35: by Charlie (new) - added it

Charlie (charlieridley) | 4490 comments My book has arrived so I think I'll start this weekend :) It was such a bargain, £4 including free delivery for a beautiful hard back copy, it's in perfect condition too, you can't even tell it's read. I love second hand books!


message 36: by Shae (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shae | 372 comments @Charlie - well done, very good find! Hope you enjoy starting it, look forward to hearing your thoughts :-)


Gavin | 182 comments Charlie wrote: "My book has arrived so I think I'll start this weekend :) It was such a bargain, £4 including free delivery for a beautiful hard back copy, it's in perfect condition too, you can't even tell it's r..."

Great find. Probably an early DNF:)


Gavin | 182 comments Shae wrote: "Fingers crossed for remainder of this story :-)"

I hope you enjoy it! I finished last night and definitely felt like the second half of the story was better than the first half but that on the whole I never quite connected with this one in the way I was hoping to.


message 39: by Shae (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shae | 372 comments Just finished :-)

Was great to see some of our earlier queries resolved with character development, understanding and compassion.

This book was quite different from anything else I've read this year and I actually enjoyed it :-)


Gavin | 182 comments Glad to see you enjoyed this one Shae:) I did feel like the second half of the story was stronger than the first but that on the whole it had too many flaws for me to truly enjoy.

Spoilers for the end!!! (view spoiler)


message 41: by Shae (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shae | 372 comments Gavin wrote: "Glad to see you enjoyed this one Shae:) I did feel like the second half of the story was stronger than the first but that on the whole it had too many flaws for me to truly enjoy.

Spoilers for th..."


Excellent questions Gavin - here's where I attempt my first spoiler tags, in order to answer properly ;-)

Ok, here we go: (view spoiler)


Jeremy Olsen | 6 comments I'm not sure I know how to do spoiler tags so I'm going to talk in very general terms when I say I was very much taken in by the use of POV at the end to create fear and tension (does that make sense?). It was a clever technique.

Like Gavin I don't think Tain showed as much growth as his two companions but having said that, he seemed to start from a position of greater compassion in any case. I really appreciated that all three characters worked to use non-violent means to solve problems regardless and I very much enjoyed the fight scenes where Hawke couldn't rely on her characters being master swordsmen. I loved seeing the poisons and things used as weapons but really like I said appreciated that it was with great reluctance that they resorted to that. Like it would have been so much easier for the writer to just make Jovan turn into an assassin type with his skills but that wasn't his personality and I thought that was such a fascinating and refreshing choice in the fantasy genre.

@Gavin, I do think it's interesting that you have taken the different family structure as bigotry and discrimination instead of just seeing it as a different cultural practice. You've made me think quite hard about this issue as it had not occurred to me in any way to take it the way you did, but you've encouraged me to think about why I think it was a good and interesting choice that didn't say anything negative about the characters. I think about it less in terms of 'men are robbed of their children' and more of it as this is a culture which does not structure itself around couples. Without marriage, and without there being any expectation of fidelity between couples. So there's no concept that a man would have any kind of 'ownership' of a child of a woman he might have slept with 9 months before. Men do have 'children' though, those children are biologically their nephews (or great nephews, I think?), those are the children that they parent. It wasn't clear to me if the society actually even understood there to be a blood link between a child and its 'father'? The reason I said men seem to have an elevated role is that most characters who reference parents reference their Tashi as their primary carer, maybe that was just because the main characters didn't have a mother on scene, but it seemed like Tashis were the more significant parent. Anyway obviously this is a very different way of thinking about the world but I disagree that it shows the characters are misandrists or bigots or anything of the sort. There is no sign that they value men and women differently. It is interesting though that the idea of couple-as-family is so entrenched in western society that its absence stirred you to such feeling. That is after all what speculative fiction should do, challenge us, so it's probably a good thing!

@Shae I thought the story wrapped up really well so i will be very interested to see where the sequel goes. I wonder if it will be a sequel proper or just another story in the world.


message 43: by Shae (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shae | 372 comments @Jeremy - Haha, I didn't know how to create a spoiler alert either :-)

I found a folder on the FBR discussion board called 'General Group Info' which contains a thread called 'PSA: Please Mark Spoilers'. This was super helpful and gave directions on how to do it. I was so pleased when it worked :-)

Re: whether the sequel will follow on from CoL or be a another story in the same world - I'm very curious about that too!


message 44: by Gavin (last edited Oct 15, 2018 09:27AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Gavin | 182 comments Shae wrote: "Excellent questions Gavin - here's where I attempt my first spoiler tags, in order to answer properly ;-)
..."


You mastered it well:) Trust me to suck a few people into having to learn to deal with spoiler tags lol!

I'm not sure if I'll read the sequel to this one or not. It was sort of an OK read for me. Some really good stuff mixed with some bad stuff. Had the sequel been released already I'd probably have moved onto it straight away. As it is it will depend on how I feel about this one with a years worth of time to ponder it. It is sometimes the case that I avoid 3 to 3.5 star rated books in favour of finding potential 4 or 5 star reads by reading something new. I'm a mood reader so I've really no idea if I'll read the sequel;)

Jeremy wrote: "@Gavin....."

I feel like you have the wrong impression on why I had an issue with the world building aspects of the story. Especially the bits involving the discrimination and the new culture. I'll try to clear up how and why I feel as I did.

(view spoiler)

I hope that has cleared up why I had an issue with this bit of the story?


Jeremy Olsen | 6 comments Thanks, Gavin, that was very helpful and I totally understand what you mean, now. I misunderstood your point the first time around. :)

Shae, thanks for the tip on the spoilers!


message 46: by Shae (new) - rated it 4 stars

Shae | 372 comments @Gavin - All good, I totally understand the joys of mood reading :-)

@Jeremy - No worries at all, I'm having fun trying to learn how to do a few new things on Goodreads :-)


message 47: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new) - rated it 2 stars

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7427 comments Mod
I placed a hold for this book almost a month before the read started... it has only just now become available haha. 🤦‍♀️ New Record for me.


Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin | 1338 comments That sounds like my library book holds!!!! 😫🤣😂


Gavin | 182 comments Niki Hawkes wrote: "I placed a hold for this book almost a month before the read started... it has only just now become available haha. 🤦‍♀️ New Record for me."

I guess that shows City of Lies was a popular new release:)


message 50: by Niki Hawkes, I made it past GOTM... barely (new) - rated it 2 stars

Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller | 7427 comments Mod
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ wrote: "That sounds like my library book holds!!!! 😫🤣😂"

Haha book lovers’ problems.


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