The City of Zirdai

Book #2 Archives of the Invisible Sword

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Pub Date 02 Jun 2021 | Archive Date 06 Jun 2021

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With her indomitable style, New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder returns with an electric new fantasy series that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

'It's suicide, Shyla. You're the prize they want.'

Through her courage and tenacity, Shyla Sun-Kissed has awoken the power of The Eyes of Tamburah. But this feat only marks the beginning of the challenges that the magical order, the Invisible Sword, faces to free the underground city of Zirdai.

Though they have allies among the monks and splinter cells inside the city, Shyla knows the Invisible Sword doesn't have the strength to win. With the group fracturing due to the strain of losses from their latest ordeal, thinly veiled suspicions and endless disagreements, it's up to Shyla to forge a new united order.

When both the draconian Water Prince and brutal Heliacal Priestess learn of Shyla's new powers, life becomes even more complicated as they will stop at nothing to capture Shyla and take the magic of The Eyes for themselves. Hunted at every turn and unable to hide, Shyla and the Invisible Sword must use every resource at their command - and unearth new ones - in their race to save the city from destruction. But their enemies always seem to be one step ahead. And the cost to win the battle may be more than Shyla would ever be willing to pay...

With her indomitable style, New York Times bestselling author Maria V. Snyder returns with an electric new fantasy series that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

'It's suicide, Shyla...

A Note From the Publisher

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maria V. Snyder is the New York Times bestselling author of the Study series, the Glass series, the Healer series, Inside Out, and Outside In. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she earned a Bachelors of Science degree in Meteorology from Penn State and a Master of Arts degree in fiction writing from Seton Hill University. Unable to part ways with Seton Hill, Maria is currently a teacher and mentor for the MFA program.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Maria V. Snyder is the New York Times bestselling author of the Study series, the Glass series, the Healer series, Inside Out, and Outside In. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she...

Advance Praise


'Maria's writing transports you to a world where you can feel the sand under your feet and the heat in the breeze. Where you feel the need to keep an eye on the dangerous sun and feel your heart race with the need to race through the lower levels of the city.' Goodreads

'I loved it and cant wait for the next installment. 5 stars. Highly recommended.' Goodreads 

'I love everything I‘ve ever read by Maria V Snyder, but I think this series is my favourite. The world that she has created is richly imagined, and nicely different to many standard fantasy world-building tropes.' Goodreads 

Praise for The Eyes of Tamburah:

'Combines the sassiness and adventure of Tomb Raider, the twisted darkness of Blade Runner, and the secrets and mythology of Prince of Persia.' Bronwyn Eley, Booktopia

'An enjoyable desert-inspired treasure hunt that was full of action and plot twists. It keeps you on the edge of your seat and you find yourself addicted to turning the page.' Morgan, Mashleas Reads


'Maria's writing transports you to a world where you can feel the sand under your feet and the heat in the breeze. Where you feel the need to keep an eye on the dangerous sun and feel your...

Available Editions

EDITION Paperback
ISBN 9781489252821
PRICE A$19.99 (AUD)

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Featured Reviews

Maria V. Snyder is one of my favourite authors and this book just solidified that! The magic, the world, the characters. Everything was so captivating, as a second book, this didn't suffer from the second book syndrome. it was just as impactful as the first book!

If you're looking for a new favourite series this just might be the one!

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Well, another Maria V Snyder book and another amazing read.

I have read every single book Maria has ever published and I have loved each and every one. I would buy her shopping list if I could, such is my love for her books and writing.

The City Of Zirdai (thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an electronic copy in exchange for an honest review) is a great follow up from The Eyes Of Tamburah and a novel filled with unique plots, exciting action and interesting characters.

Maria's novels always have an immense amount of action and absolutely zero 'filler', and The City Of Zirdai is no exception. So much action happens and so many exciting twists and turns occur, that I raced through this book as I usually do all of her novels. This series is so unique and so different to the majority of Young Adult novels out there today, that it creates a very exciting and intriguing feel to it when reading.

The magic system is fun and continually evolving, the pacing us fantastic and allows the reader to never be bored, the characters are changing and developing page by page, and the romance is sweet and very much a side event to the action, mystery and plot.

As someone who loves a good amount of romance in my fantasy novels, I felt there was slightly too little in this one for my tastes, however I know many people who this would be perfect as they don't like too much. I will say, though, that the first book in this series has a lot more romance and the enemies to lovers trope with the two main characters is great fun to read.

As is usual from Maria V Snyder, readers are left with a bit of a cliff-hanger at the end of the book to make us want the next instalment right away, but with enough cohesion and finalisation to feel happy with the ending.

4.25 stars

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Shyla Sun-Kissed is back, and is just as bad-assed as ever in The City of Zirdai. Starting off where The Eyes of Tamburah finished, this sequel from Maria V. Snyder is not something to be missed!

I had super high expectations for this sequel, given that I absolutely loved (and devoured, honestly) Tamburah, and I wasn’t let down at all! Full of the action, magic, and Snyder’s style I know and love, it firmly has a place in my 2020 favourites, for sure!

In this sequel, Shyla barters with both the Invisible Sword, as well as the monks and the communes to help her protect the seemingly precious ‘Eyes of Tamburah’ from the likes of the Water Prince and the Heliacal Priestess.

This quest often leads to Shyla and her merry band of bandits to resort to mischievously use magic (of sorts) to hide from the Priestess’ Archdeacons as well as the overbearing Captain Yates. Each of these encounters were super fast paced, however, had a bunch of detail which made the scene super three dimensional! Whilst a lot of fantasy books I’ve read of late heavily feature romance, I enjoyed that this one took a rather backseated approach, allowing for the action to drive the story forward, which felt like exactly what I wanted from this book! I loved how despite Rendor’s absence, Shyla could still be focused and carry on towards her goals, just as if he was right there. To me, this feels much more like a genuine relationship, and I’m keen to see if it develops in the final book in this trilogy.

What I loved about this sequel is that we got more page time for the monks, which helped make me understand a whole lot more about why they were keen to help Shyla, as well as exposing some of their somewhat well-kept secrets. I also really enjoyed seeing the relationship between Hanif and Shyla in a little more depth than in Tamburah, which I found was a really nice touch when the action appeared to not be there.

The tunnel that the Invisible Sword starts to dig really reminded me of the Indiana Jones movies, and I can’t understand why, but drawing that parallel is pretty cool- given that tunnels often lead to uncovering big secrets. I loved how this goal to have a hidden base connected to Zirdai by tunnel appeared to strengthen the resolve of the group, despite every setback they encountered. Further to this, I loved seeing the character development of Jayden, Rendor (despite Rendor not getting much page time in the book), and many of the relatively minor characters, with many of them feeling totally fleshed out and not at all just there for the sake of being there. Also, I still dislike the Water Prince- he’s still a bit of a jerk, which isn’t so surprising given how he was in The Eyes of Tamburah!

The pace of this book felt just right for me, seemingly fast-paced enough to keep me absored in the action scenes, and slow enough in the parts meant for plot and character development. Whilst these weren’t in perfect halves, I enjoyed the changes in pace just as much as I loved seeing Shyla trudge on!

If you’re looking for a Tomb Raider with a dash of Indiana Jones mixed with underground sand cities and scorching heat, The Archives of the Invisible Sword series is likely to be right up your alley! The City of Zirdai, book two of three in the series, is full of action and is definitely not a release to be missed this year!

Rating: 4.5/5

(Review will be live on my blog on 22nd July, 2 weeks prior to the new August 5 release date!)

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If anyone is a fan of Tomb Raider or any Arabian/desert inspired trope, the Eyes of Tamburah is the perfect series for you. If you've read the first book I would highly continuing the series because the sequel didn't disappoint.

The Eyes of Tamburah has a fairly straightforward premise - the main character (Shyla) is an outcast in her society who manages to make a living by finding and selling information about hidden temples and treasures. However, when she is accused of stealing an artefact called The Eyes of Tamburah, she is 'hired' by the city's Prince to recover them by any means necessary. This sequel deals with the fallouts of book 1 and focuses on the added responsibilities Shyla takes on in her effort to save the city of Zirdai.

Firstly, I have to say that I loved the setting of this book. I loved the desert setting in the first book, and I loved it in this one,. Despite my extreme dislike of heat, the desert setting in novels always adds a lot of different challenges to the characters in comparison to the fairly standard fantasy forest. The underground city aspect of this series is really cool and I feel like it was explored really well in this one especially with how clever the characters were in the using the city to their advantage. There is no better battleground for these characters to verse each other on.

I appreciated that this book did give answers to most if not all the mysteries left open ended in book 1. The City of Zirdai continued to provide a lot of twists and turns - they were slightly more predictable this time around but it could be argued that that's because they were set up well plot-wise.

The City of Zirdai was a lot slower at the beginning but after the first 100 pages, I would say it picked up quite a bit and was very action-packed with great, coherent fight scenes. The author keeps you on your toes quite a few times towards the end of the novel as well. The only problem with pacing is that the passage of time is not at all consistent. For example (beware: spoilers) there's a time that Shyla is captured by the Water Prince and is kept captive for two weeks but those two weeks pass by in just a few pages. It just felt like something that monumentally traumatising would get a little more page-time.

Characters: fantastic. So many of the side characters were so well rounded and that's the key to making a story feel real. When everyone but the main character feels 2D, how great the worldbuilding is never matters. I sincerely cared what happened to all the characters, both good and bad. This combined with the unfortunately realistic percentage of character deaths meant that I was constantly glued to the page. Shyla's growth between the two books continued to be realistic and interesting.

The romance between Shyla and Rendor was super interesting in this book considering Rendor wasn't a massive presence in the middle section of the story. It was nice to see a realistic timeline for relationship growth. I was also appreciative that while Shyla missed Rendor while he was gone, she was still functional and didn't need his help going about her business. Not every romance has to be some out of this world, mate bond, soulmate trope - people can WANT to be together but not NEED to.

I'm giving The City of Zirdai 4.25 stars. I liked it slightly more than the first book so it's safe to say it doesn't suffer from second book syndrome. While I definitely felt like this could have been a duology because it definitely felt wrapped up until the twist at the very last sentence, I am super excited for the third book.

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With thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for my ARC in exchange of a fair review.

Yet another extremely well written title by MVS, where world building, character development and the story itself combine to make for an immersive, thoroughly enjoyable reader experience.

In this title we see Shyla establishing her leadership of the Invisible Swords, expanding their operations and continuing in her quest to free the people of the city of Zirdai from its corrupt rulers.

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