The Sable City

Rated 4.64/5 based on 11 reviews
"Matilda Lanai, she of the sickening fall and the miraculous, silt-spitting, quaking resurrection. It might be a sign at that. The Island girl wasn’t stupid. She knew how to work. And she had it inside her to be ruthless. Block had seen it plain as day."

Epic Fantasy, Muskets & Magic. Historical fiction in a fictional world. More
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About M. Edward McNally

M. Edward McNally is a North Carolinian of Irish/Mexican extraction. Grew up mostly along I35 northbound (KS, IA, MN) and now resides in the scrub brush surrounding Phoenix, AZ, where the scorpions and the javelinas play. MA in English Lit from ISU and Russian/East European History from ASU, though both date from an earlier era when there was a lot of Grunge on the radio and Eddie wore entirely too much flannel, even in the summer.
Deus impeditio esuritori nullus.

Learn more about M. Edward McNally

Also in Series: The Norothian Cycle

Also by This Author

Reviews of The Sable City by M. Edward McNally

Regina Greene reviewed on Oct. 30, 2013

Loved it! Combines the elements I most love from both David Eddings and George R R Martin. This author creates a living breathing world, the characters are real people that you miss, when they are not around, the wit and humor make reading it pure joy, and it is not completely predictable. You will be shocked and surprised on more than one occasion. Well done, I'm glad there is more to read by this author. I will will be visiting his material often.
(review of free book)
Nicole Storey reviewed on Jan. 25, 2012

The Sable City is book one in McNally's The Norothian Cycle series. This book can only be classified as a fantasy for adults. Now, before you get the wrong idea, what I mean is that The Sable City isn't a "fluff and stuff" fantasy book that the reader can just breeze through with hardly any thought. This book takes time to read, but it is well worth it! If you enjoy works by Tolkien, you will love McNally!

I had to mention Tolkien, because the author's work reminds me so much of his Lord of the Ring series! They aren't the same as far as the characters, content, or the adventures that take place, but McNally does invent his own worlds and languages and this book just has that Tolkien "feel". McNally is a genius!

I do love fantasy, and this book took me to places that I could never dream up on my own. The author has such a vivid imagination. He has that special talent of being able pull the reader in to explore these wondrous places and characters without pushing his vision upon them. He gives just enough detail and description to get you started, but I can see that he likes to let the reader make up their own minds as to how they want to "see' the story he tells.

This story is a mixture of fantasy, adventure, with a little magic thrown in. It has many characters, and I honestly cannot pick a favorite, as I loved them all - even the ones that weren't so honorable. By the end of the book, I felt like I knew them. Being able to connect with the characters is very important to me and McNally had no problem bringing us together in this epic tale. The author is not above throwing in some twists and turns and thrusting his readers into the unexpected. He kept me hanging to the edge of my seat!

If you are an adult who loves a good fantasy book, but just can't get into the young-adult scene of vampires, werewolves and the like, then this is the book for you to sink your teeth into. It has depth, creative characters, beautiful imagery, and a hearty plot. I am so glad that I have two more stories to read in this series!
(reviewed 4 months after purchase)
Melissa Cabrera reviewed on Jan. 15, 2012

Although I normally make small individual reviews, this series has me doing the rare combined review. I LOVED this series. I do mean L.O.V.E. This series NEEDS to skip everyone's to be read lists and go straight to BUY. This series, entirely, had me entranced. I did not stop, not even for air. This series is great for men and women alike. There is no doubt in my mind that this series can easily make for an amazing muti-million (Hundreds) dollar movie series.

With all that being said, on with the review. The writing style was masterfully done. Everything was perfectly balanced. The characters were done flawlessly. Their realistic personalities, combined with the richness in the detailed world, blurred the lines between real and fantasy. The author has an uncanny way of drawing you so far into the story-line that you can easily lose yourself. The pace was unrelenting. It never let me peel my eyes away from the pages of the story. It kept my eyes at bay with the twist and turns, edge of your seat, burst of humor, and the lively playfulness. The plot's climax could bring you to your knees. The only disappointment I had, was like all things, the book came to an end.

All three of these books easily made a 5 star rating, with mind blowing grace.

(reviewed 51 days after purchase)
Betsey reviewed on Nov. 4, 2011

5 STARS to the author.

I was intrigued from page one all the way through the book. The author held my attention and curiosity as to what was going to happen next. I loved the characters and had mental pictures of frogs, bullywogs and other make believe characters talking and interacting like humans.

This book is a typical good vs. evil plot but with the imagination of the author his characters are interesting, funny and lovable.

I did find one point not answered for me, but hopefully in the next book which I am anxious to read.

I recommend reading it if you are a fantasy fan!
(reviewed 30 days after purchase)
Stephen Hise reviewed on Sep. 15, 2011

Fantasy/adventure has never been my preferred genre, but I have to say this book took and held my interest from the very first page and throughout. McNally has crafted a wondrous world and filled it with wonderful and well-developed characters. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and the author's skillfully crafted plot-twists keep the reader on the edge of his seat. I highly recommend this read!
(reviewed 70 days after purchase)
Katy Sozaeva reviewed on Sep. 5, 2011

Eddie has created a wonderful world of action and adventure, wizards and warriors, and even a few dungeons and dragons in “The Sable City.” A little bit Lord of the Rings (with the lighter-hearted feel of “The Hobbit”), a little bit Belgariad, a little bit Chronicles of Prydain, and wholly entertaining, even those who find themselves less than excited by a sword and sorcery story should find this one worthwhile.

It all starts when Captain Block – a dwarf of over 400 years of age who has lived in the Miilarkian Islands since before the savage tribes civilized themselves – is sent out to find the scion of House Deskata and bring him back from exile. Then we are slowly introduced to other small groups of adventurers, all with their own goals and plans, and all of which, eventually, end up in the fabled Sable City.

It is nearly impossible to try to outline any of the plot without providing spoilers, so let me give you a bit of a snippet of what Eddie says when he describes it: muskets, magic and Matilda. OK, so there aren’t a lot of muskets, and magic doesn’t wander around as much as in many stories, but it is there. A half-Lamia character is quite interesting, although my favorite characters were the succubus Uella and the devil lord Balan – as is my wont, I enjoy evil characters that have glee and joie de vivre in their evilness.

There is plenty of action and adventure, but also great world building and character development – this book has it all! I spent a good bit of time in the edge of my seat in anticipation and laughed out loud many times. I highly recommend this engaging adventure fantasy for anyone! Look for the sequel: “Death of a Kingdom,” which is available wherever find e-books are sold!
(reviewed 61 days after purchase)
Helmy Kusuma reviewed on July 25, 2011

Reading Sable City is like eating roasted sunflower seed ; you get impatient at first and want to gobble them all at once, but you know you can not so you try patiently to crack each and every bit of it.
When you get to bag no five you are already fluent in opening the shell and licking the seed; you start to speed up: bag six, seven...until you realize there are no more bags. You go to the store and find out that there are no more bags left. You go to the farmer and he say that you have to wait another year until the production starts again.

I am patiently breathing on Ed's neck so he can finish the sequel.

BTW, It's awesome! LOTR has to inch aside to give room for Sable City.
(reviewed 47 days after purchase)
CD Reiss reviewed on July 23, 2011

I picked up Sable City because I like this genre, and it did more than fulfill my expectations.
First off, it's really long, which suits me. There's nothing like a nice long read. And there was plenty here to sink my teeth into. The descriptions were rich and engaging. The characters are grounded in real emotions, and speak in their own voice. Nothing about this world is generic or poorly thought out. There is an original sight or sound at every turn.
We start out on a small island with a girl named Matilda as she is recruited to search for a John Deskata, a member of Matilda's "house". Though we follow her for most of the journey to the very scary Vod'Adia; through meetings over plains, plot twists in ancient cities and epic battles against hobgoblins; we do see the story through the eyes of multiple people, (wizards, centurions, dwarves etc...) and as the story progresses we understand why (I won't say).
There are more than a few surprises here, and I am really working hard to not give them away.
On the negative side, some of the descriptions went on very long, and did not pay off, so I found myself skimming past because I needed to know what happened next. Also, I was not told why the characters were doing what they were doing for the first hundred pages or so, which I find frustrating. But I still couldn't put it down, and I was rewarded. So I'm not hanging too much on that.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
Chris Mariano reviewed on July 11, 2011

Mr McNally knows his way around different fantasy tropes, combining them well enough to create an adventure campaign that is light in tone and quick in pace. The novel manages to balance humorous banter with sobering tension. The characters may be straight out of an RPG but they remain engaging, especially since most of them are given moments of inner conflict. Despite some contrived instances and excessive infodumping, this remains a solid effort and a very promising start to the series.
(reviewed 9 days after purchase)
Caroline Cryonic reviewed on June 12, 2011

The Sable City is a fun and refreshing D&D epic fantasy romp set in the 14th century. There’s muskets and magic, and dwarves and samurai. Blood gets spilt along the way due to encounters with nefarious demon hordes and such, but a wry sense of humour is maintained throughout the book.

The book grabbed my attention from the first page and I found it hard to put down, which is a bit of a problem considering its epic word count of 183,000. Hence, be warned. It first starts as a quest for two, then a diverse cast of characters are introduced; their paths get tangled and it builds up to a fun dungeon-crawl and boss fight. I’d like to talk about some of the twists and surprises, but I won’t spoil the fun for you.

While the characters don’t deviate from the common fantasy types (kleptomaniac rogue, gruff dwarf, snarky mage, antisocial melee guy, female healer, … even the novel samurai isn’t characterized beyond stoic), they’re very likeable, lively, and sympathetic. I cared about them as real individuals and desired to see their stories through. There aren’t any faux action or TSTL heroines here as Tilda and the other women are skilled and resourceful. There’s plenty of moxie and quipping to go around.

McNally develops a rich and detailed world full of history. It pays greater attention to resource wars, changing boundaries, and taxes than other stories with this fantasy setting. It’s a world where an accursed city of doom opens up… and the first thing that happens is that hobgoblins levy taxes on any treasure carried out. It’s dungeons and business.

One of The Sable City’s greatest strengths is its energetic tone and sense of humour. The characters have their troubles and despair, so while it has its poignant moments, it never gets too serious for its own good. It plays with some fantasy tropes while keeping the reader immersed in the story, and it strikes this balance masterfully.

The book’s weakness lies in the “building” of world-building. The first fifth is difficult to read because of the massive infodumping about the world. It made me feel like I was reading a game world wiki than a novel, but once you’re past the infodumping, it’s smooth sailing and turns out to be a really fun read. I think it could still benefit from more editing to fix excessive exposition and some awkward early scenes–but the way it is now, it’s still a great 4 star book.

There are a few anachronistic phrases (like “teamster”) and moments where I felt like I was playing an RPG instead of reading a novel. Its preoccupation with equipment and armour can only be described as obsessive, a mage attempts to cast Know History, and the party has a penchant for climbing up towers full of mooks just because the towers are there. But the quirks work well with the tone and story, so I just find them charming.

Due to the beginning 20% of ridiculous infodumping, I advice readers approach to that section with some blinders on if you’re overwhelmed by the details. Once you’re past that, it greatly improves and reveals itself as a rewarding and fun dungeons & dragons romp. I highly recommend The Sable City if you’re looking for an entertaining epic fantasy adventure.

Note: a free review copy was provided by the author.
(reviewed 25 days after purchase)
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