The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett @robertjbennett #Ballantine @DelReyBooks

Posted January 30, 2024 by Anne - Books of My Heart in Book Review / 15 Comments

Review copy was received from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett  @robertjbennett #Ballantine @DelReyBooksThe Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett
Series: Shadow of the Leviathon #1
Published by Ballantine on February 6, 2024
Genres: Fantasy, Mystery
Pages: 432
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
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In Daretana’s most opulent mansion, a high Imperial officer lies dead—killed, to all appearances, when a tree spontaneously erupted from his body. Even in this canton at the borders of the Empire, where contagions abound and the blood of the Leviathans works strange magical changes, it’s a death at once terrifying and impossible.

Called in to investigate this mystery is Ana Dolabra, an investigator whose reputation for brilliance is matched only by her eccentricities.

At her side is her new assistant, Dinios Kol. Din is an engraver, magically altered to possess a perfect memory. His job is to observe and report, and act as his superior’s eyes and ears--quite literally, in this case, as among Ana’s quirks are her insistence on wearing a blindfold at all times, and her refusal to step outside the walls of her home.

Din is most perplexed by Ana’s ravenous appetite for information and her mind’s frenzied leaps—not to mention her cheerful disregard for propriety and the apparent joy she takes in scandalizing her young counterpart. Yet as the case unfolds and Ana makes one startling deduction after the next, he finds it hard to deny that she is, indeed, the Empire’s greatest detective.

As the two close in on a mastermind and uncover a scheme that threatens the safety of the Empire itself, Din realizes he’s barely begun to assemble the puzzle that is Ana Dolabra—and wonders how long he’ll be able to keep his own secrets safe from her piercing intellect.

I couldn’t resist this new-to-me author, as Robin has been a fan.  With a mystery, and the strange main characters I had to read The Tainted Cup. I chose the ebook version although audio is also appealing.

The world was complex and yet it didn’t feel overwhelming in the way it was developed.  In the same way, the characters were slowly and steadily built along with the story.  I liked the pace and handling of the detailed information.

This fantasy world has augmented human, political classes, and huge monsters. We learn about some of the different types of augmentations which also divides them somewhat into the kind of work they perform. Travel between regions seems to take time and they travel by cart or by horse.   People seem to only be knowledgeable about their own area and not well traveled unless they are more wealthy or travel for work. But usually investigators do not travel and stay in their own region.

Our main character is an augmented human, Din, an engraver, newly assigned to an investigator, Ana.   The murder they investigate happened at one of the wealthiest family’s home, so there is a lot of politics involved and danger to those investigating.   I came to really root for them and enjoyed their skills.  They solve problems with a very Sherlock Holmes style with much observing and witness statements.

I loved this start to the Shadow of the Leviathan series and can’t wait to read more.  There is much yet I want to learn about these characters and their history, as well as the world where they live   I will probably try the next one on audio.


About Robert Jackson Bennett

Robert Jackson Bennett is a two-time award winner of the Shirley Jackson Award for Best Novel, an Edgar Award winner for Best Paperback Original, and is also the 2010 recipient of the Sydney J Bounds Award for Best Newcomer, and a Philip K Dick Award Citation of Excellence. City of Stairs was shortlisted for the Locus Award and the World Fantasy Award. City of Blades was a finalist for the 2015 World Fantasy, Locus, and British Fantasy Awards. His eighth novel, FOUNDRYSIDE, will be available in the US on 8/21 of 2018 and the UK on 8/23.

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Posted January 30, 2024 by Anne - Books of My Heart in Book Review / 15 Comments

15 responses to “The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett

  1. I’m a big mystery reader and I’m finding I really enjoy mysteries mixed into other genres. I love the cover of this one and it definitely sounds like one I need to try.