CITY OF NIGHT is the second novel in The House War, the story Michelle West’s avid fans have been waiting to read for over a decade. In 1995, Michelle opened the way to a rich new fantasy universe with her Sacred Hunt duology, which brought readers from the insular kingdom of the Hunter Lords and their Hunt Brothers to the much broader landscape of the Essalieyan Empire, a realm with a long and bloody history, a kingdom ruled by the Twin Kings, themselves the sons of gods. It is also controlled by The Ten, the heads of the most influential Houses in Averalaan, the capital of the Empire.
The House War is the tale of the battle to control the most powerful of the ruling Houses in the Essalieyan Empire – House Terafin. But it is also the story of Jewel Markess (Jay to her friends).The Hidden City, the first volume of The House War, introduced us to the orphaned Jewel, rescued from a precarious existence in the slums of Averalaan by Rath, a man who turned away from his own family long years ago when his sister left home to join House Terafin. Now Rath’s sister is The Terafin, head of House Terafin, while Rath has become a recluse, seeking and selling the valuable relics he finds amid the ruins of the ancient and deserted undercity that lies below the populous streets of the Averalaan holdings.
When Rath takes the orphaned Jay into his home, he reveals to her the mysterious undercity and its treasures. And then Jay begins to rescue other children – creating a den of her own – and they too begin to mine the undercity for items that can be converted to coin.
As City of Night opens, times have become even more desperate within Averalaan’s hundred holdings. Street children have been disappearing, theft and violence have increased, and even Jewel and her den are finding it hard to make ends meet.
Though they have been living on their own for some time, Rath has remained their mentor and has continued to sell the items of value they find in the undercity. Then suddenly Rath orders them to avoid the undercity as much as possible. He himself has obviously become involved in something extremely dangerous. Yet Rath refuses to heed the warnings that Jewel’s seer dreams have given her. For he has learned a bitter truth about Averalaan’s undercity and the demonic activity that is escalating both there and in the mortal, surface level city as the worshippers and demonic servants of the Lord of the Hells strive to complete a ritual that will return their god to the mortal realm.
Rath now joins with the mages of the Order of Knowledge to wage a secret battle against this nearly unstoppable foe. He knows that his choice will see him targeted for death – or a far worse fate. In a last-ditch attempt to protect Jewel and her den-kin from what lies ahead, he provides them with a note of introduction to the head of House Terafin – the sister he’d sworn never to contact.
For only within the well-guarded walls of the Terafin manse will Jewel and her comrades stand any chance of escaping the unnatural forces reaching out to claim them….