Symir--the Drowning City. A lush subtropical port, home to exiles and expatriates, pirates and smugglers. And violent revolutionaries who'll stop at nothing to overthrow the corrupt Imperial government.
For Isyllt Iskaldur, necromancer and spy, the brewing revolution is a chance to prove herself to her Crown, and to forget the heartbreak that haunts her at home. All she has to do is find and finance the revolutionaries, and help topple the palaces of Symir. But the longer she stays in the monsoon-drenched city, the more factions and intrigues she uncovers--even the dead are plotting, and the monsters who live in the flooded canals. And the closer she grows to an Imperial mage, the more her loyalties are strained.
Betrayed by her allies, hunted by the people she meant to aid, and determined to save a man oath-bound to kill her, Isyllt must choose between her mission and the lives of thousands of people. But as the waters rise and dams crack, everything she's worked for may still be swept away.
A French translation, La Cité des eaux, is also available.
Vienh's scenes - Vienh Xian-Lhun's scenes were cut from the final draft, mostly because I could never make her character arc strong enough. I'm still fond of them, though, and they fill in several bits of story that happened when Isyllt wasn't around. All nautical accuracy is the work of Kate Bachus--all the mistakes are mine.
Shortlisted for the 2009 David Gemmell Morningstar award.
"Like the worlds she imagines, the words of Amanda Downum are lyrical, persuasive, and evocative. If you read only one first novel this year, read this one. I promise it's good." - Elizabeth Bear, author of Ink and Steel and Hell and Earth
"The Drowning City is a compelling fantasy in a richly imagined setting dripping with visceral detail, building to a conclusion at once unexpected, appropriate and moving." - Jacqueline Carey, author of Kushiel's Mercy
"The plot is a page-turner. The characters are believably flawed; there are neither pure villains nor pure heroes, just people trying to do what they think is right. The world building is rich and evocative, as lush as the rain forests surrounding the drowning city of Symir, and the magic system is brilliant, both esoteric and utterly down to earth." - Sarah Monette, author of Corambis
"Absorbing and luxuriously dense, Amanda Downum's debut novel is a story of necromancy, revolution, and vengeful ghosts unfolding in a decaying and glorious jungle city. It will surely delight the lovers of intrigue and darkly complex fantasy." - Ekaterina Sedia, author of The Alchemy of Stone
"Lush, evocative. Amanda Downum creates a richly realized, refreshingly Eastern world full of charms and spirits, espionage and intrigue and the wars of great powers fought by proxy." - Brent Weeks, author of Beyond the Shadows
"Downum effectively combines action, magic, police procedure and political intrigue in this complex and striking debut. Isyllt Iskaldur, a Selafaïan forensic necromancer, travels to the monsoon-soaked canal city of Symir, capital of Sivahra. Her plot to undermine the occupying Assari Empire before it can invade Selafai is complicated by her attraction to handsome Imperial fire-mage Asheris. Isyllt's bodyguard Xinai, a Sivahran native, despises the empire for its brutal destruction of her clan; young apprentice mage Zhirin Laii struggles between love for a guerrilla leader and loyalty to her mother, a respected politician. Refreshingly, Downum treats necromancy as an unclean but necessary defense against evil and nicely handles the complex nuances of a quasi-Westerner fomenting revolution in a quasi-Asian country occupied by quasi-Arabs. A strong (if not happy) conclusion still leaves plenty of room for sequels. (Sept.)" - Publishers Weekly