Beneath the Citadel is a book both of were interested in and we finally got around to reading it! This book is a standalone and that doesn’t happen often with fantasy books! Did it work as a standalone? Keep reading to find out!
In the city of Eldra, people are ruled by ancient prophecies. For centuries, the high council has stayed in power by virtue of the prophecies of the elder seers. After the last infallible prophecy came to pass, growing unrest led to murders and an eventual rebellion that raged for more than a decade.
In the present day, Cassa, the orphaned daughter of rebels, is determined to fight back against the high council, which governs Eldra from behind the walls of the citadel. Her only allies are no-nonsense Alys, easygoing Evander, and perpetually underestimated Newt, and Cassa struggles to come to terms with the legacy of rebellion her dead parents have left her — and the fear that she may be inadequate to shoulder the burden. But by the time Cassa and her friends uncover the mystery of the final infallible prophecy, it may be too late to save the city — or themselves.
“No one remembered how to decide for themselves anymore. No one wanted to believe that their mistakes were preventable. If your future was foretold, then you weren’t accountable for it.”
Candyce The cover of this book has a gorgeous cover. The golden skull made me expect a darker and more serious read, but it definitely still fits the book well. As you can see this book also has a gorgeous naked hardcover! I love finding surprises like that under the dust jacket!
Isabelle I really like the cover! It has a pretty creepy vibe with that golden skull and that’s definitely part of why I wanted to read it. I was expecting a darker read based on the cover but I do still think it really fits the story.
“But believing the lies you tell yourself doesn’t make then any truer.”
Candyce Beneath the Citadel is a standalone fantasy book and that doesn’t happen often in this genre. Seeing how worldbuilding is an important part of fantasy books, I was afraid there wouldn’t be enough or maybe even too much about the world. That wasn’t the case though, I felt that the author gave us enough of Eldra, but it didn’t take over the rest of the story.
This world runs on prophecies. Seers see what’s going to happen and act upon that. Except something isn’t right at the moment. People become ill for unexplained reasons. Like in many fantasy stories, there’s a rebellion against this way of ruling, but a lot have been killed because of it, including one of our main character’s parents. Cassa is the reason these group of characters is determined to bring down the council.
I loved this world though. The idea of a world being ruled by prophecies could be pretty interesting. It’s pretty scary as well though, because deciding what happens to a lot of people based on what someone has seen seems pretty out there. This book has a good balance of worldbuilding, action, politics and character development. I think for me, I would’ve liked just a little bit more of the way certain characters worked. They talk about seers, rooks, diviners, sentients and even blood bonds. I wouldn’t have minded a liitle more information at that.
The Citadel is a well thought out place. I loved how it was described and it sounds like such an interesting and scary place. This is the first time I read a book where it’s possible to steal memories. Not only that, but that characters don’t know when it’s going to happen. They only feel like something is missing. That’s just really creepy!
During all the plotting and action we also really got to know the characters. The fact that the main characters all had their own POV really helped. That made this story more complete and I felt we learned more this way. Beneath the Citadel did leave things open, but not in a way that really leaves you hanging.
Isabelle It was so refreshing to read a fantasy standalone! Normally with fantasy you have to invest in a series and even if I’m not a big fan I’ll usually read the whole series just to find out how it all ends. So I loved that we got this contained story where we got to see a fantasy world/city, meet characters and read about an interesting story.
The book starts really interesting right at the start, it feels like you start in the middle of the story but it all starts to make sense pretty quickly. The pacing of the story was really well done. While the story is going on you also get flashbacks to when certain characters of the group meet and it made me like them so much more. I loved seeing them in a different light.
The plot of the book was really enjoyable and I liked the way it was all resolved a lot! You don’t know who to trust for most of the book and that’s definitely something I like in books. There was also a heartbreaking twist, most of the twists I didn’t see coming luckily! I also liked the ending of the story, not everything was ‘fixed’ but we leave the world different than we found it for sure.
The world building was done pretty well, I loved how thought out it all was. Since the story is a standalone you get less world building and all of the world needs to be in this book. I never got bored of the world building but like Candyce said, I would’ve liked a little bit more explanation on the different ‘powers’ people had in this world.
Lastly, I listened to the audiobook and that was a great way to go. I really enjoyed the narration of the audiobook and flew through the story!
“The world they had inherited was broken, and they were fools to think they could somehow piece it back together.”
Candyce What really makes this book more unique and fun is the diverse set of characters in this story. The author also gives us a few looks into how characters met and friendships started. I think this also made it hard to figure out who we could trust from the start. That definitely made this story more interesting.
Cassa has a reason to want to see the Council go down. They’re the reason that her parents are now dead. She feels that she needs to finish what her parents started. At times she can be a bit wild and at times even selfish, but she starts realizing these things during the story. Cassa learns to let others help and I think she gets what she wants in the end.
Alys was my favorite character I think. Even though anxiety is a very real thing for her, she was so much stronger than she realized she could be. Her brother and parents are really important to her and she’d do anything for them even if she doesn’t feel brave. I felt like she started believing in herself more near the end.
Evander seems really confident, but he has his own insecurities. I think he feels the need to protect his family. That is the big reason he takes such big risks, like getting the bloodbond that could’ve killed them. Even when he’s feeling less than confident he is for Alys, because he knows she needs the extra boost.
Newt is grateful for his odd group of friends. His father isn’t liked and people think he’s the same way. All he wants to do is prove he isn’t. Newt can basically stretch a lot more than others, but doesn’t let others know this hurts him more at times than helps him. I think with everything happening, he definitely proved he’s nothing like this dad.
Beneath the Citadel didn’t really have romance and that was actually pretty refreshing, but I loved the budding relationship between Newt and Evander. It slowly developed and that was so nice, because normally characters fall in love so fast. I wouldn’t mind a book about just them!
Isabelle We got such a diverse group of characters! I loved reading about such different people and loved how naturally this diversity felt. It was never forced and all the main characters were so well rounded. We get five main characters, Cassa, Vesper, Alys, Evander and Newt.
Cassa felt like the driving factor behind everything and she’s super passionate. I didn’t really like her at first, but thanks to some of the flashbacks you get to know her better and start to understand her. In the end I liked her so much more!
Vesper was a very interesting character. I wasn’t sure if we should trust her and doubted her for the longest time. She was so cool though! I loved reading about her and seeing her play the bigger game with everyone.
I think Alys was my favorite character as she was pretty relatable. She has anxiety and I thought that was portrayed very well. And I loved that she was still able to do so much and she was super important to the group. Her anxiety isn’t magically fixed by love or anything and it was simply part of her but it wasn’t all of her and I think that’s a great message.
Evander was a lot of fun to read about. He doesn’t seem that special at first, he seemed to be the confident and maybe even cocky love interest but he turned out pretty different. It was wonderful getting to know him better and I loved the budding romance we got.
And then we have Newt, I feel like he should be protected at all costs. He has a very difficult past but still managed to make his own decisions. I loved reading about him <3
“They took everything from us. Our home, our hope, our future. No one should have that kind of power.”
This book was a pleasant surprise! What are your favorite fantasy standalones?