Unwrapped Sky – Rjurik Davidson

About the Book

Caeli-Amur: an ancient city perched on white cliffs overlooking the sea; a city ruled by three Houses, fighting internecine wars; a city which harbours ancient technology and hidden mysteries. But things are changing in Caeli-Amur. Ancient minotaurs arrive for the traditional Festival of the Sun. The slightly built New-Men bring their technology from their homeland. Wastelanders stream into the city hideously changed by the chemical streams to the north. Strikes break out in the factory district.

In a hideout beneath the city, a small group of seditionists debate ways to overthrow the Houses. How can they rouse the citizens of the city? Should they begin a campaign of terror? Is there a way to uncover the thaumaturgical knowledge that the Houses guard so jealously? As the Houses scramble to maintain their rule, it becomes clear that things will change forever in Caeli-Amur.

432 pages (hardcover)
Published on April 15, 2014
Published by Tor
Author’s webpage 

This book was sent for me to review by the publisher.

Occasionally a book will pass my line of sight that will prove to me just how much cover art really does matter, despite how hard I try for it not to make an impact on my reading choices. Unwrapped Sky is one of those. I wanted to read this book purely because of the cover art, which reminds me a bit of the cover art on Elizabeth Bear’s Eternal Sky series. It’s dramatic and dreamy, full of colors and mystery and it just makes me want to know what sort of an incredible book was written to spark that sort of genius from the cover artist.

And minotaurs. How in the hell can I pass over a book with minotaurs in it? Impossible. It cannot be done.

The cover art sets the stage for a dramatic book, and Davidson does not disappoint. Set in a world with just the right amount of steampunk and deep undertones of mythology, Unwrapped Sky is one of those books that will make an impact on you, no matter who you are. The city of Caeli-Amur is vast and sprawling, a hotbed of political agenda, cultural clashes, and ideas that spark revolutionaries. Mixed into this are the plights of the rich and the poor, and a war between ruling houses. There is plenty here to keep anyone interested.

Caeli-Amur is one of those cities that I love in my fantasy. It is rich and layered. There is a lot about the city and the people who live there that you learn in bits and pieces and have to put together as you read. Unwrapped Sky does the puzzle-type revelations really well. Davidson will drop a clue here, and an important detail there, and you, as the reader, will need to put them all together. This gives the reader some leeway in the formation of insights and opinions. There is a lot of room here for readers to gain unique insights into the book depending on who they are, and where they are coming from when they read it.

Books that mean something different to everyone are a real treat.

The magic system, known as Thaumatugcy fit almost effortlessly into the world Davidson created, and is interesting enough, especially in the context of that world, to get the mental gears moving as you read. There is a lot of history that is hinted at, or poked at briefly. Much like Steven Erikson’s Malazan series, this isn’t just a surface-level world. There is a lot below the surface, and plenty of the philosophical discussions, and the breaking off of citizens into different belief groups reflects that. The reaction of the people in this book to the events that take place give Unwrapped Sky a level of depth and a realistic quality that absolutely worked for me.

Unwrapped Sky follows a few primary characters. Some of them took some time to grow on me, while others were interesting right away. Readers can expect that sort of thing with any book that has multiple perspectives. Eventually all the individual threads of the novel are drawn together in an almost effortless fashion. It was quite interesting to see just how deftly Davidson wove together the threads of his plot and neatly tied off the ending. Despite the fact that some characters were more interesting than others, it was absolutely fascinating to see how Davidson turned so many smaller stories into one gigantic picture so gracefully.

And speaking of grace, this book has some absolutely stunning prose. The writing neatly ties the package and makes Unwrapped Sky something truly special.

Unwrapped Sky is one of those books that just worked for me on almost every level. Some readers might shy away from it, as this book does have quite a lot of layers and things to unpeel as you go, but for the most part, speculative fiction fans should add this to their to-be-read pile. Unwrapped Sky is stunningly written, and the world is so lush, vibrant and full of nuances and detail that it absolutely enchanted me. The characters are easy to like, and their stories are interesting. And minotaurs. SERIOUSLY. MINOTAURS. Unwrapped Sky is a nice mixture of myth, lore, and something completely new and different and absolutely worth your time.

This book is a journey, and that’s the kind of book I like the most. It’s one of those novels that I had to savor and read slowly, and I just know I will catch something different every time I read it. What a gift.


5/5 stars

4 Responses

  • Oh this is awesome news, because this is my next read. BTW, what is the plural of minotaur? Is this addressed in the book?

  • Yey!!! I skipped most of the review since I still need to read this one, but I’m pumped for five stars and it is good to know that I’ll need to savor this one. Probably not ideal for the driving this weekend, but next week 😀

  • I did the same as Anya and for the same reasons but I’m happy this is getting great reviews! I’ve read Davidson’s two free short stories in the same world and I was very impressed with his skill and story so I’ve been waiting to read this one with great anticipation!

  • This one’s very high on my To read list, and I’m hoping to start it this week. I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, and I’m looking forward to diving into a new fantasy world and seeing what I think of it all. Glad to know that you enjoyed this one; our tastes may not always match, but I find that if you like a book, I stand a pretty good chance of liking it too.

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