City of Strife

City of Strife

Isandor, City of Spires.

A hundred and thirty years have passed since Arathiel last set foot in his home city. Isandor hasn’t changed—bickering merchant families still vie for power through eccentric shows of wealth—but he has. His family is long dead, a magical trap has dulled his senses, and he returns seeking a sense of belonging now long lost.

Arathiel hides in the Lower City, piecing together a new life among in a shelter dedicated to the homeless and the poor, befriending an uncommon trio: the Shelter’s rageful owner, Larryn, his dark elven friend Hasryan, and Cal the cheese-loving halfling. When Hasryan is accused of Isandor's most infamous assassination of the last decade, what little peace Arathiel has managed to find for himself is shattered. Hasryan is innocent… he thinks. In order to save him, Arathiel may have to shatter the shreds of home he’d managed to build for himself.

Arathiel could appeal to the Dathirii—a noble elven family who knew him before he disappeared—but he would have to stop hiding, and they have battles of their own to fight. The idealistic Lord Dathirii is waging a battle of honour and justice against the cruel Myrian Empire, objecting to their slavery, their magics, and inhumane treatment of their apprentices. One he could win, if only he could convince Isandor’s rulers to stop courting Myrian’s favours for profit.

In the ripples that follow Diel’s opposition, friendships shatter and alliances crumble. Arathiel, the Dathirii, and everyone in Isandor fights to preserve their homes, even if the struggle changes them irrevocably.


City of Strife is the first installment of the City of Spires trilogy, a multi-layered political fantasy led by an all LGBTQIAP+ cast. Fans of complex storylines criss-crossing one another, elves and magic, and strong friendships and found families will find everything they need within these pages.

Title:City of Strife
Edition Language:English
Format Type:

    City of Strife Reviews

  • RoAnna Sylver

    "How long had Arathiel hung to the side, a spectre watching events unfold, uncertain he deserved to participate? Not anymore."* * *This is another book where I'm not even certain how to begin. There i...

  • Ceillie Simkiss

    I did an early character interview with Larryn, and I loved this book exactly as much as I expected to. Y'all gotta read this. Read my full review here!...

  • Ben Babcock

    Magical cities are one of my favourite tropes in fantasy novels. I think I could read nothing but magical city fiction for a while and take a long time to feel sated or bored; there is so much room fo...

  • Mel

    City of Strife, the first instalment in a new fantasy series, masterfully combines a tale of city life with its politics, merchants, and assassins with the danger of an evil outer force. The story is ...

  • Sarah (CoolCurryBooks)

    Trigger warning: abuseI picked up City of Strife because I heard it was a second world fantasy that had a lot of aro and ace characters. Turns out the entire main cast is queer!In the city of Isandor,...

  • Elle Maruska

    I really enjoyed this book!It has all the elements I love in second-world fantasy: a city with various political & economic elements, all at each others' throats; a wide-ranging cast of characters; an...

  • Bryn Hammond

    I was uncertain for the first third, convinced for the second, and way into it for the third. Far too often novels happen to me the other way around.Populated by interesting ppl, and with a shelter fo...

  • Lucille

    [Actual rating : 4,5/5]I decided to buy and read this book after finding out it was from the person who had created the Aromantic or Asexual Speculative Fiction Database. I always feel more inclined t...

  • Lia

    I had the opportunity to read the two first books in the Isandor / City of Spires series by Claudie Arsenault. I will mostly mix my opinions of both the books, since they were both quite similar in bu...

  • Chasia Lloyd

    Lush worldbuilding and a wide variety of characters, this book has it all. If queer political fantasy is your jam, you need this.I struggled a lot with the opening because of the enormous cast of char...