AWWNYRC #2: The Shattered City, by Tansy Rayner Roberts

This is the second book I’m reading as part of my list of 10 for the Australian Women Writers 2012 National Year of Reading Challenge.

The Shattered City

Book 2 of the Creature Court trilogy
by Tansy Rayner Roberts
Harper Voyager, 2011, ISBN: 9 780 7322 8944 7

shattered city by tansy rayner roberts

IN WHICH the Tasmanian author furthers the tale begun in Power and Majesty (reviewed here). For those who came in late: the city of Aufleur is under attack, with interdimensional rifts trying to destroy it overnight. Defending the city is a bunch of hedonistic and political shape shifters, led by a Power and Majesty. In book 1, the ruling P&M was whisked away through a split in the sky, and was replaced — not by the most likely candidate, the damaged and reluctant Ashiol, but seamstress Velody.

It’s a complex world, with Italian Renaissance overtones, and both the workings of the magical world and its relationship with the physical are explored further in The Shattered City. Velody grows into her role on the great chess board, introducing a new regime of polite behaviour — of community — into the fractious, scheming Court, while her fellow seamstresses — Rhian, all but neglected for much of this story, and fiery Delphine — also find their place in the new world order.

australian women writers challenge 2012The actual story that drives this book — an assassin in the ranks and the sense that the city faces its most deadly threat yet — takes a while to get going, but there’s no time for slacking off. There are so many points of view, often thrown altogether within each chapter, and some make only one or few appearances: it’s easy to lose track of just whose head you’re in.

It’s a strength that the immediate story arcs of books 1 and 2 are both resolved between their covers, while the larger story stretches across them. As with the first, the second delivers some delicious moments, beautifully dressed and dead sexy, and what a relief it is to finally have the plot point that kicked the whole thing off finally out in the open. Rayner Roberts is wise to not present it as a surprise, but use it as leverage for a greater goal. The Creature Court series offers a layered, detailed, credible world, peopled with a cast of complex, motivated individuals. How fortunate that, given the impending showdown foreshadowed here, that book 3, Reign of Beasts, is out now!

This review has also been posted at Australian Speculative Fiction in Focus, who made the review copy available.

Previous Challenge reviews:

  • Frantic, by Katherine Howell, crime.
  • 17 thoughts on “AWWNYRC #2: The Shattered City, by Tansy Rayner Roberts

    1. I’ve been meaning to read Roberts’ work, and your review has convinced me to hunt up this series. I tend to enjoy books where authors are savvy with ‘re-purposing’ historical detail. Gothic fantasy with shapeshifters sounds right up my alley.

    2. I enjoyed your review – thanks. I was a fan of the first book in this trilogy, looking forward to reading the next two as well.


      ps I heard, and really liked, Smoking, Waiting for the Dawn on the Terra Incognita Speculative Fiction podcast. Excellent story.

    3. It’s always a bit depressing when you find a podcast you like, decide to listen to the back catalogue first then realise a couple of episodes in that the whole thing has finished before you got properly started!

      Still, TISF did introduce me to a bunch of authors I hadn’t come across and 30 episodes was a good run.


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