City of Tigers by Leif Chappelle

City of Tigers by Leif Chappelle
Publisher: Camel Press
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Suspense/Mystery, YA
Length: Full Length (282 pgs)
Age Recommendation: 14+
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Aloe

Raised by his mother in the small town of Havlandsby, young Sigurd watches the projektors make their rounds, keeping the town lit and warm in the dark, cold winters, ensuring that water fills the wells. Their communion with the elements is as old as the world itself, but the projektors are losing their influence, and fewer of them are being born. Their duties are slowly being taken over by inanimate objects—the machinae—and the people they serve are fleeing their homes in droves for the cities.

After Sigurd’s mother dies, he joins the exodus to Tigrebyn, the City of Tigers, where he must fend for himself among the petty thieves and heartless merchants. Finally Sigurd meets Ragna, who has taken it upon herself to track and protect the remaining projektors, now punished for practicing the ancient art of projeksjon and labeled conspirators against the Crown. Sigurd’s particular art is nothing as mundane as bringing forth light, warmth, and water. Sigurd can command the very air to transform the sounds in his head into complex musical compositions, conducting an invisible orchestra of instruments and effects.

The professors at the University, who answer to the Queen, wish to use Sigurd’s gift to invent the greatest machina yet—but first they must bend the young man to their will.

Sigurd never knew his father. When his mother dies, they tell him he will have to go live with his uncle, her brother. He doesn’t like that idea, so he leaves the village and moves to the city. You can hide in the city, can’t you?

This story is a mix of machina and magic; the machina are almost steampunk in nature and the magic is done by projeksjon. The author has created a world with have and have-nots. Those that are part of the castle and the university have the machina. Those that don’t live there have to depend on their own skills to get along. The gap between the two groups is large and those who are at the bottom resent it.

Sigurd catches their attention by using a power he doesn’t know he owns. He has also found two more children his age, a brother and a sister and they have unusual powers. They also aren’t aware of it. Not knowing what they are capable of is dangerous. Sigurd somehow causes a fire in the square and becomes a wanted terrorist. He’s still not even sure he’s done it, but he has to hide.

This is a long convoluted tale. The children are caught in the middle because they are orphans. The queen and her consorts are playing games with other people’s lives. Sigurd becomes friends with the lady that leads the revolutionary group. You never really know what’s going on or who’s who.

The author’s words flow well, the story keeps you interested and wondering, and it’s a fast ride to the end. I’m afraid I’m not sure I understood the ending. It was odd to me and left me wondering about the other characters. Maybe I missed something as I read or maybe I needed a more obvious explanation, but I didn’t get it. I did enjoy the read, the world building and the characters. That made it worth reading. Why don’t you give it a try and see what you think?

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