This book delivers a satisfying story in a post-apocalyptic fantasy world with imaginative worldbuilding, but nothing blazing-your-pants-off epic.

After reading and enjoying the Murderbot Diaries (see my thoughts on Fugitive telemetry) I decided to read some of Martha Wells's other work. City of bones is a standalone fantasy novel from 1995. I realized it had actually been some time since I read proper fantasy, as recently I rather prefer to read sci-fi instead. It felt great to submerge myself into a fantasy world again though. The book's standalone nature also lowered the barrier of entry, because I didn't feel like I was committing to a gargantuan universe.

Somewhere mid-way I found myself writing down some reflections on the book. I felt like the character motivations of Khat and Sagai didn't really convince me. They are continuously risking their lives (and their family's) to steal ancient relics, without any prospect of adequate reward. One argument that seems to be the linchpin, is that they both like Elen the Warder, but to me that just signals that these characters are too morally perfect. It causes the sensation of a lack of depth.

I did enjoy the final climax of the novel, which was delicately crafted and satisfyingly paced. It strokes with what others wrote online, that the book can feel a little slow-burning.

I think N.K. Jemisin's review on Goodreads (Jemisin wrote the beautiful The broken earth trilogy) quite aptly captures what makes this novel interesting.

[a] clever-yet-hapless , fish-out-of-the-water protagonist

breathtaking sense of beauty and almost primordial danger in every landscape

She also notes how the story at some point turns Lovecraftian, referring to the Inhabitants of the West. Drawing from the definition on Wikipedia[emphasizing] the horror of the unknowable and incomprehensible — I think it fits especially well as a description of how I enjoyed that aspect of the world.

The Books of the Raksura are hailed as an even better execution of themes that already appear in City of bones. Based on this online consensus, I recommend reading both.