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Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite
Within by Peter Gribble is an epic fantasy and the second book in The City of Magicians series, preceded by book one, Threat. The book begins with Purdu, a philistine wearing many hats, doggedly pursuing absolute power and moving unopposed into the City, himself adorned with weapons that nobody else in the City of committed conscientious objectors has. His old friend whom he regards as a brother, Sas the Magician, a mnemonic-trained, senderbound and Deliberator, lies in a weakened near-death state. His rehabilitation is met with growing conflict. Sas loves Purdu, but Purdu's insistence on being regarded as a god forces a choice between opposing loyalties. The story shifts between multiple points of view characters who are all on their own journey, whether they are seeking to protect, align, ruin or advance plights from within the City or from without. “Purdu, God of Ruin, will look down upon the catastrophe he wrought upon the unworthy . . .”
The storyline of Within is easy enough to follow, even for readers who have not yet read Threat, as Peter Gribble provides nuggets of backstory with enough to refresh readers who are continuing on and bring new readers up to speed. The most interesting characters to me are the women, with Layla and Gleswea being standouts. Layla embarks on a surprising quasi-relationship with an outcome that creates a fascinating subplot and leaves a reader wondering throughout about the possibility of her being a red herring. Gleswea's experiences in a completely foreign environment provide a view of unfamiliar rituals that expand the visual storytelling elements of the novel. The writing has an overt loquaciousness, but the complexity of the characters, the connection between Sas and Purdu that does not shy away from displays of affection, and the unique story definitely make this installment of the series worth the time and effort required to read a novel of this size.