There are few sequels that stand up to the original novel but City of Blades is just as gripping as the novel that started it all, City of Stairs. You must read the first book before this, however, as it doesn’t work as a stand-alone. For those who loved City of Blades, many characters are back here, especially….wait for it…..Sigrud who features prominently here (can I hear a collective hooray?). While our main protagonists shift in this book, the superior world-building and twisty plot remains. The themes were darker in this book, which seemed appropriate given the hard look at war, those who lead us into war (and why), and why people follow them into war and carnage. Frankly, it was these dark questions that made the novel more compelling for me than the first. Philosophically, it made me think while still keeping the plot moving along…it didn’t get dry and boring with musings at any point.