The Skyscraper Throne: The Glass Republic by Tom Pollock – Book Review [Bane of Kings]

The Glass Republic

Milo, aka “Bane of Kings”, reviews The Glass Republic, the second novel in The Skyscraper Throne trilogy by Tom Pollock, published by Jo Fletcher books.

“Wow. If you thought that Tom Pollock could not get any better, think again – The Glass Republic cements The Skyscraper Throne Trilogy’s place as one of the greatest urban fantasy works that I’ve had the pleasure to read, and we haven’t even had the third book yet. If you enjoyed books by Neil Gaiman or Kate Griffin then you’ll love this series.” ~Bane of Kings, The Founding Fields

The City’s Son was a book that made it onto my ‘Best 25 novels of 2012’ list, which meant that I would be checking out the sequel The Glass Republic, as soon as I could. If I made a list of most anticipated 2013 novels, you can bet that The Glass Republic would be within the Top 10 if not the Top 5, because the first book by Tom Pollock was just that good. And when I got The Glass Republic through the post as a review copy, I knew I had to jump right in as soon as possible even though I was in the middle of a book already. And when I started reading, I couldn’t stop – Pollock’s second novel excells just as much as the first one, and doesn’t suffer from the ‘middle book syndrome’ that often plagues trilogies. Most of the second act is spent setting up the first, not much happens – there’s a lot of worldbuilding – you know what I mean. You’ve seen it before a million times. But I’m pleased to say that The Glass Republic doesn’t fall into that trap, and delivers a very awesome read that stands as one of the most unique novels that I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading, with a very awesome concept to boot.

Pen’s life is all about secrets: the secret of the city’s spirits, deities and monsters her best friend Beth discovered, living just beyond the notice of modern Londoners; the secret of how she got the intricate scars that disfigure her so cruelly – and the most closely guarded secret of all: Parva, her mirror-sister, forged from her reflections in a school bathroom mirror. Pen’s reflected twin is the only girl who really understands her.
 
Then Parva is abducted and Pen makes a terrible bargain for the means to track her down. In London-Under-Glass, looks are currency, and Pen’s scars make her a rare and valuable commodity. But some in the reflected city will do anything to keep Pen from the secret of what happened to the sister who shared her face.

Whilst much of the narrative was focused on Beth’s perspective, The Glass Republic takes up the vast majority of its page-count telling the story through the point of view of Pen Khan, Beth’s best friend – who suffered life-changing incidents at the end of The City’s Son and the aftermath is really expanded on here as the character is really fleshed out. Unlike most novels that choose to have a different character’s viewpoint for the second novel in the trilogy, The Glass Republic isn’t just the same events told by a different character’s perspective, instead – it moves the story forward, further fleshing out the unique urban-fantasy setting created by Tom Pollock and delivering one of the greatest second acts in a book that I’ve seen, the whole concept of London-Under Glass being refreshingly unique.

The Glass RepublicWhilst Beth’s character may not receive as much attention here as she did in The City’s Son, which was a shame because I was really liking her character and looking forward to seeing where she developed, Pollock manages to make it so that it doesn’t really matter, making Pen a likeable, rootable  and interesting protagonist who is capable of standing on her own without having to rely on Beth all the time. The book itself really rams it home that this series is not your typical urban fantasy featuring private detectives, vampires and werewolves. No – The Glass Republic, is different, comparable in quality to the likes of Neil Gaiman and to a slightly lesser extent Kate Griffin, Tom Pollock really makes himself a ‘must read’ author with this book, and the third instalment (and unfortunately, final) in this trilogy can’t come soon enough, especially as this book ends on a cliffhanger, as is common for most second acts in trilogies, making book three a release-day read for me.

The book moves along at a pretty swift, but not-lightning fast pace (to see what I mean by lightning fast, read a book by Dan Brown or James Patterson), but that’s a good thing. There weren’t any times when I felt bogged down by the narrative, and the prose was smooth and captivating. I love the direction that Pollock is taking The Skyscraper Throne Trilogy and I really can’t wait to see what he can do with the third act. This book is certainly a strong contender for book of the year for me, and if you haven’t read The City’s Son yet I strongly recommend that you go back and read it.   In my view at least, both books here are pretty much essential reading for fans of urban fantasy. Seriously, these books are that good.

VERDICT: 5/5

THE SKYSCRAPER THRONE TRILOGY: The City’s Son, The Glass Republic,

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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