City of Lies (Poison War #1) – Sam Hawke



Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Tor Books
Pages: 559
release Date: July 3, 2018

I was seven years old the first time my uncle poisoned me…

Outwardly, Jovan is the lifelong friend of the Chancellor’s charming, irresponsible Heir. Quiet. Forgettable. In secret, he’s a master of poisons and chemicals, trained to protect the Chancellor’s family from treachery. When the Chancellor succumbs to an unknown poison and an army lays siege to the city, Jovan and his sister Kalina must protect the Heir and save their city-state.

But treachery lurks in every corner, and the ancient spirits of the land are rising…and angry.

City of Lies is one of those fantasy novels where readers are treated to the experience of simmering in a setting rife with political intrigue. Hawks throws readers into the middle of a city full of treachery and mystery with hints of ancient spirits awakening.

City of Lies is written from two perspectives, Jovan and Kalina, siblings in a prestigious family responsible for the safety of the Chancellor from poisons. Jovan has been training all his life for his future job of proofer for the future heir, and his best friend, Tain.

Kalina was meant for the position of proofer, but her frail body made her incapable of building tolerance for poisons. Trained in other ways, Kalina plays an important role in maintaining Tain’a safety while also rooting out the various mysteries throughout the novel.

The reason I rated City of Lies four stars instead of five is because of the too subtle world building in terms of the ancient spirits/magic. The novel, for the most part, is a whodunit mystery within a military siege and the strategic defense and long term game of winning a siege. There are rumblings here and there of a greater plot involving spirits, but it isn’t until about 75% through the book where readers get the bulk of the information in an almost info dump fashion.

There are hints at a next book, and one has been confirmed on Goodreads, but I wouldn’t mind leaving the story concluded with City of Lies. Though there are hints at more, City of Lies wraps up the story nicely.

I’d recommend this to anyone looking for a fantasy novel with compelling characters, court intrigue, and truths and secrets long forgotten.


Have you read City of Lies? What did you think?

4 thoughts on “City of Lies (Poison War #1) – Sam Hawke

  1. Yeah, I enjoyed this one, also rated it a 4 – the fantasy is definitely subtle and I struggled at first to get into Kalina’s storyline. I did like it though and I would read the next one.
    Lynn 😀

    1. For some reason I really enjoyed Kalina’s storyline from the first chapter even though it was kind of boring at the beginning.
      Have you seen the cover for the sequel? I’m not sure if it’s the final cover, but the one on Goodreads is gorgeous!

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