All the Seas of the World


I've been foaming at the mouth ever since Guy Gavriel Kay announced the release of his upcoming novel, All the Seas of the World. Every two or three years, this Canadian speculative fiction author comes up with a new book that never fails to enthrall me. With such memorable titles as Tigana, The Lions of al-Rassan, Under Heaven, River of Stars, Sailing to Sarantium, and Lord of Emperors, Kay has set the bar rather high throughout his career. And if Children of Earth and Sky and A Brightness Long Ago are any indication, it appears that like a fine wine, Kay only gets better with time.

Simply put, All the Seas of the World showcases a master of the craft writing at the top of his game. This is one of those novels you wish just never ended. Alas, it does and now we have to wait a while for whatever comes next.

Some reviews claim that Kay's latest can be read and enjoyed as a stand-alone work. While technically true, I would tend to disagree. Reading both Children of Earth and Sky and A Brightness Long Ago are somewhat essential for getting the most out of reading All the Seas of the World. The three works form a thematic trilogy of sorts and I feel that they should all be read in their order of publication. Moreover, I would say that The Lions of Al-Rassan and the Sarantine Mosaic duology should also be read prior to tackling Kay's newest. To jump into this book as a complete newbie would make you miss too many nuances and your overall reading experience wouldn't be the same. That shouldn't deter you, though. Believe you me: More Guy Gavriel Kay novels to read just means more hours of captivating reading that will fill your mind with wonders!

Here's the blurb:

Returning triumphantly to the brilliantly evoked near-Renaissance world of A Brightness Long Ago and Children of Earth and Sky, international bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay deploys his signature ‘quarter turn to the fantastic’ to tell a story of vengeance, power, and love.

On a dark night along a lonely stretch of coast a small ship sends two people ashore. Their purpose is assassination. They have been hired by two of the most dangerous men alive to alter the balance of power in the world. If they succeed, the consequences will affect the destinies of empires, and lives both great and small.

One of those arriving at that beach is a woman abducted by corsairs as a child and sold into years of servitude. Having escaped, she is trying to chart her own course—and is bent upon revenge. Another is a seafaring merchant who still remembers being exiled as a child with his family from their home, for their faith, a moment that never leaves him. In what follows, through a story both intimate and epic, unforgettable characters are immersed in the fierce and deadly struggles that define their time.

All the Seas of the World is a page-turning drama that also offers moving reflections on memory, fate, and the random events that can shape our lives—in the past, and today.


All the Seas of the World is set a number of years following A Brightness Long Ago and around two decades or so prior to Children of Earth and Sky. Richly detailed as only a Kay book can be, his latest work will engross you from the very beginning. Guy Gavriel Kay has a knack for coming up with an amazingly evocative narrative and an arresting imagery that leaps off the page. Exile, loss, faith, identity, and love are just a few of the themes explored throughout this novel. Building on storylines and characters from two other books sharing the same setting, All the Seas of the World manages to surpass them both in terms of quality. Which is high praise indeed given that both were unforgettable reads.

I've said it in previous reviews. Kay's talent and imagination allow him to create a living and breathing environment that draws you in and refuses to let go. I don't know how he manages to do it, but Kay's worldbuilding is almost always a subtle thing. The setting never takes precedence over the story and he never relies on info-dumps and other such contrivances. Still, somehow, seemingly effortlessly, as the tale progresses Kay ends up with an elegantly crafted setting that never fails to dazzle the eye. Few authors can immerse readers in such a vivid manner, and Kay's eye for historical details and traditions imbues his latest book with a realism that is seldom seen in works of speculative fiction. All the Seas of the World is a more sprawling novel than its two predecessors. It's a big, meandering sort of book. Not as self-contained as what Kay has accustomed us to in the past. Vaster in scope, nearly all the kingdoms and locales of the Middle Sea are visited or play a role in this story.

Around the time when Children of Earth and Sky was about to be published, Kay told me that as much as anything, he wanted that novel to be about non-powerful (not same as ordinary) people on borderlands in a time of war, trying to shape their lives (very differently) in difficult times. They intersect, some of them, with power, but that isn't the heart of the story. It was also important for Kay to balance the five of them, not let one character take over the book. Add to that his usual desire to also balance awareness of history and themes against characters, narrative drive, etc, and you ended up with a complex and satisfying plot on your hands. For the most part, the same could be said of A Brightness Long Ago. The difference was that the protagonists were "less important" people in the greater scheme of things who get caught in the periphery of influential men and women whose actions will cause world-shaking ripples that will change the world as they know it. Once more, it appears that Kay used the same recipe for All the Seas of the World. Taking center stage in this one are two main protagonists. One is Rafel ben Natan, a Kindath merchant and sometimes corsair with various identities due to his faith. The other is Lenia, a young woman who was abducted by Asharite corsairs as a child and turned into a slave. Now that she has escaped, Lenia has vowed vengeance upon those who wronged her. Guy Gavriel Kay has always possessed a deft human touch and his past novels are filled with memorable characters. And once again, it's the superb characterization which makes this book impossible to put down. As is usually his wont, the author came up with a group of disparate men and women, whose paths will cross unexpectedly and whose fates will be spun into a vast tapestry of love and tragedy. The supporting cast is particularly good, chief among them Folco d'Acorsi and Raina Vidal.

Though the pace can be slow-moving at times, All the Seas of the World is never dull. Though meandering in terms of plot, with Kay's lyrical prose the narrative is a joy to read from start to finish. I for one wouldn't mind if the author revisits the lands of the Middle Sea for an encore. Or several encores!

This book deserves the highest possible recommendation.

The final verdict: 9.5/10

For more info about this title, check out these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (April 24th)

In hardcover:
 
Emily St. John Mandel's Sea of Tranquility debuts at number 2. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


Not SFF, but many of Agatha Christie's ebooks are on sale for 1.99$ or less. Quite a few for less than a dollar and one for as little as 0.29$! Follow this Amazon Associate link to check them out! There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb for The Mysterious Affair at Styles:

In her first published mystery, Agatha Christie introduced readers to her Belgian detective, Hercule Poirot. When the wealthy mistress of Styles Court is murdered, Poirot is on hand to wade through the confusing clues and long list of suspects! A classic whodunit.

This special edition is loaded with bonus content...reviews of the era, a filmography, and a complete bonus Agatha Christie novel, "The Secret Adversary."


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You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Adrian Tchaikovsky's Elder Race for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

In Adrian Tchaikovsky's Elder Race, a junior anthropologist on a distant planet must help the locals he has sworn to study to save a planet from an unbeatable foe.

Lynesse is the lowly Fourth Daughter of the queen, and always getting in the way.

But a demon is terrorizing the land, and now she’s an adult (albeit barely) with responsibilities (she tells herself). Although she still gets in the way, she understands that the only way to save her people is to invoke the pact between her family and the Elder sorcerer who has inhabited the local tower for as long as her people have lived here (though none in living memory has approached it).

But Elder Nyr isn’t a sorcerer, and he is forbidden to help, and his knowledge of science tells him the threat cannot possibly be a demon…

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.


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You can now download Miles Cameron's Artifact Space for only 1.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Out in the darkness of space, something is targeting the Greatships.

With their vast cargo holds and a crew that could fill a city, the Greatships are the lifeblood of human occupied space, transporting an unimaginable volume - and value - of goods from City, the greatest human orbital, all the way to Tradepoint at the other, to trade for xenoglas with an unknowable alien species.

It has always been Marca Nbaro's dream to achieve the near-impossible: escape her upbringing and venture into space.

All it took, to make her way onto the crew of the Greatship Athens was thousands of hours in simulators, dedication, and pawning or selling every scrap of her old life in order to forge a new one. But though she's made her way onboard with faked papers, leaving her old life - and scandals - behind isn't so easy.

She may have just combined all the dangers of her former life, with all the perils of the new . . .


Scott Drakeford contest winner!

I'm giving away my review copy of Scott Drakeford's Rise of the Mages to this lucky winner. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associates links: Canada, USA, Europe.

The winner is:

Stéphane Beaulieu, from Gatineau, Québec, Canada

Many thanks to all the participants!

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You can now download L. E. Modesitt, Jr.'s Imager for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Although Rhennthyl is the son of a leading wool merchant, he has spent years becoming a journeyman painter. With his skill and diligence, Rhenn stands to be considered for the status of master artisan. Then, his entire life is transformed when his master patron is killed in a flash fire, and Rhenn discovers he is an imager—one of the few in the entire world who can visualize things and make them real.

He must leave his family and join the Collegium of Imagisle. Imagers live separately from the rest of society because of their abilities (they can do accidental magic even while asleep), and because they are both feared and vulnerable. In this new life, Rhenn discovers that all too many of the “truths” he knew were nothing of the sort. Every day brings a new threat to his life.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now get your hands on the digital edition of Daniel Abraham's A Shadow in Summer for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

The powerful city-state of Saraykeht is a bastion of peace and culture, a major center of commerce and trade. Its economy depends on the power of the captive spirit, Seedless, an andat bound to the poet-sorcerer Heshai for life. Enter the Galts, a juggernaut of an empire committed to laying waste to all lands with their ferocious army. Saraykeht, though, has always been too strong for the Galts to attack, but now they see an opportunity. If they can dispose of Heshai, Seedless's bonded poet-sorcerer, Seedless will perish and the entire city will fall. With secret forces inside the city, the Galts prepare to enact their terrible plan.

In the middle is Otah, a simple laborer with a complex past. Recruited to act as a bodyguard for his girlfriend's boss at a secret meeting, he inadvertently learns of the Galtish plot. Otah finds himself as the sole hope of Saraykeht, either he stops the Galts, or the whole city and everyone in it perishes forever.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (April 17th)

In hardcover:

Sarah J. Maas's House of Sky and Breath maintains its position at number 14. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

House of the Dragon: Official Trailer



Looks good. We'll have to wait and see. . .

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You can now download P. Djèlí Clark's A Master of Djinn for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

2022 RUSA Reading List: Fantasy Winner
A 2021 NEIBA Book Award Finalist
A Best of 2021 Pick in SFF for Amazon
A Best of 2021 Pick in SFF for Kobo
Included in NPR’s Favorite Sci-Fi And Fantasy Books Of The Past Decade (2011-2021)

Nebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner P. Djèlí Clark goes full-length for the first time in his dazzling debut novel

Cairo, 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer.

So when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world forty years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage.

Alongside her Ministry colleagues and a familiar person from her past, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city—or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems…


More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Richard Morgan's The Steel Remains for only 5.94$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Ringil, the hero of the bloody slaughter at Gallows Gap is a legend to all who don't know him and a twisted degenerate to those that do. A veteran of the wars against the lizards he makes a living from telling credulous travellers of his exploits. Until one day he is pulled away from his life and into the depths of the Empire's slave trade. Where he will discover a secret infinitely more frightening than the trade in lives.

Archeth - pragmatist, cynic and engineer, the last of her race - is called from her work at the whim of the most powerful man in the Empire and sent to its farthest reaches to investigate a demonic incursion against the Empire's borders.

Egar Dragonbane, steppe-nomad, one-time fighter for the Empire finds himself entangled in a small-town battle between common sense and religious fervour. But out in the wider world there is something on the move far more alien than any of his tribe's petty gods.

Anti-social, anti-heroic, and decidedly irritated, all three of them are about to be sent unwillingly forth into a vicious, vigorous and thoroughly unsuspecting fantasy world. Called upon by an Empire that owes them everything and gave them nothing.

Richard Morgan brings his trademark visceral writing style, turbo-driven plotting and thought provoking characterisation to the fantasy genre and produces a landmark work with his first foray.


The Colorado Kid


The Colorado Kid is the second Stephen King short novel published by the Hard Case Crime imprint. And since I enjoyed the first one, Joyland, I decided to give this one a shot. I did like it, but not as much as its predecessor.

Once again, don't let the lurid cover art mislead you. This is no cheap pulp fiction. Oddly enough, the original cover has absolutely nothing to do with the story. Not sure why they went for this femme fatale cover art. It was later changed for another illustration, one featuring a scene from the book.

Here's the blurb:

On an island off the coast of Maine, a man is found dead. There's no identification on the body. Only the dogged work of a pair of local newspapermen and a graduate student in forensics turns up any clues.

But that's just the beginning of the mystery. Because the more they learn about the man and the baffling circumstances of his death, the less they understand. Was it an impossible crime? Or something stranger still...?

No one but Stephen King could tell this story about the darkness at the heart of the unknown and our compulsion to investigate the unexplained. With echoes of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon and the work of Graham Greene, one of the world's great storytellers presents a surprising tale that explores the nature of mystery itself...


The Colorado Kid is set on Moose-Lookit, a picturesque island off the coast of Maine which attracts a lot of tourists during the summer season. As is usually King's wont, this one features great New England vibes that create a vivid imagery.

The cast is comprised of Stephanie McCann, a young University of Ohio graduate on a summer internship with The Weekly Islander, working alongside two old local newspaper reporters, Dave Bowie and Vince Teague. There is a wonderful chemistry between the girl and the two geezers, which helps set up an interesting narrative. The tale focuses on the unexplained mystery surrounding the discovery of a dead body found by two teenagers on a nearby beach. Both men covered the story back in the 80s and they try to fill her in on what might have taken place so that a fellow last seen in Colorado ended up dead in Maine a few hours later.

The more you learn about the details of the investigation, the more you get invested in the story. As mentioned, the perspectives of three such disparate characters make for some endearing back-and-forth between them. As this remains an unexplained mystery to this day, the three of them explore every dead end, hoping that some new clue will reveal itself.

Alas, it wasn't meant to be. No need to worry about a somewhat weird or off-putting Stephen King ending in this one. Indeed, The Colorado Kid doesn't have an ending. The unexplained mystery remains unsolved. Though I didn't really see it coming, for this specific book it works rather well. Still, as he writes in the afterword, the author is aware that not all readers will likely feel this way. But that sometimes, even if we get all the facts, and then extrapolate and explore all the threads based on those facts, ultimately the whole thing remains a mystery. Like many readers, I was hoping for some sort of resolution, for some answers to the numerous questions raised by the investigation. Yet when all was said and done, I still enjoyed the ride.

Your mileage may vary, though.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can get your hands on the digital edition of Anthony Ryan's The Waking Fire for only 3.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

Throughout the vast lands controlled by the Ironship Syndicate, nothing is more prized than the blood of drakes. Harvested from the veins of captive or hunted Reds, Green, Blues and Blacks, it can be distilled into elixirs that give fearsome powers to the rare men and women who have the ability harness them—known as the blood-blessed.

But not many know the truth: that the lines of drakes are weakening. If they fail, war with the neighboring Corvantine Empire will follow swiftly. The Syndicate's last hope resides in whispers of the existence of another breed of drake, far more powerful than the rest, and the few who have been chosen by fate to seek it.

Claydon Torcreek is a petty thief and an unregistered blood-blessed, who finds himself pressed into service by the protectorate and sent to wild, uncharted territories in search of a creature he believes is little more than legend. Lizanne Lethridge is a formidable spy and assassin, facing gravest danger on an espionage mission deep into the heart of enemy territory. And Corrick Hilemore is the second lieutenant of an ironship, whose pursuit of ruthless brigands leads him to a far greater threat at the edge of the world.

As lives and empires clash and intertwine, as the unknown and the known collide, all three must fight to turn the tide of a coming war, or drown in its wake.

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (April 10th)

In hardcover:

Sarah J. Maas's House of Sky and Breath is down three spots, finishing the week at number 14. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download John Gwynne's Malice for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Young Corban watches enviously as boys become warriors, learning the art of war. He yearns to wield his sword and spear to protect his king’s realm. But that day will come all too soon.

Only when he loses those he loves will he learn the true price of courage. The Banished Lands has a violent past where armies of men and giants clashed in battle, the earth running dark with their heartsblood. Although the giant-clans were broken in ages past, their ruined fortresses still scar the land. But now giants stir anew, the very stones weep blood and there are sightings of giant wyrms.

Those who can still read the signs see a threat far greater than the ancient wars. Sorrow will darken the world, as angels and demons make it their battlefield. Then there will be a war to end all wars. High King Aquilus summons his fellow kings to council, seeking an alliance in this time of need. Prophesy indicates darkness and light will demand two champions, the Black Sun and the Bright Star. They would be wise to seek out both, for if the Black Sun gains ascendancy, mankind’s hopes and dreams will fall to dust.

Carrie


I'm not sure which of Stephen King's novels I read first as a teenager, but I guess it's safe to assume that Carrie was probably among the very first ones. As you know, I've been revisiting some of King's early works to see how well they've aged over the years. I've always debated on rereading Carrie, however. Given that it's the author's debut, understandably it might not be as good as I recalled. But something kept nagging me to give it a shot and I finally did.

Carrie was King's fourth novel, but it was the first one to be published. It was also a book that almost never saw the light. Indeed, working on what was then a short story, the author threw the first couple of pages in the trash. It was his wife Tabitha who fished the material out of the garbage bin and encouraged him to finish the story. The book made little noise when it was released in hardcover format in 1974, yet it made it big in paperback. When the movie adaptation was released in 1976, sales reached four million copies. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I shouldn't have worried, for Carrie remains a powerful story that stays with you long after you've reached the last page. It's far from King's best effort, it goes without saying. But for all that it is a short work of fiction, it's raw and moving and unforgettable.

Here's the blurb:

Stephen King's legendary debut, about a teenage outcast and the revenge she enacts on her classmates.

Carrie White may be picked on by her classmates, but she has a gift. She can move things with her mind. Doors lock. Candles fall. This is her power and her problem. Then, an act of kindness, as spontaneous as the vicious taunts of her classmates, offers Carrie a chance to be a normal...until an unexpected cruelty turns her gift into a weapon of horror and destruction that no one will ever forget.


A great chunk of Carrie is written as an epistolary novel. Letters, extracts from various sources, newspaper clippings, and magazine articles are used to recount how Carrie destroyed vast swaths of the town of Chamberlain, Maine in her quest for revenge against her classmates and her own mother. Some of these epistolary-style sections worked well enough to foreshadow what's coming, but they also broke the momentum of the book more often than not. Hence, though there is a good story to tell, I reckon that some readers might find this unusual structure off-putting.

The book brings you back in time, back to your high school years and all that it entails. For most of us, that means a lot of awkward and painful memories. King doesn't shy away from showing us--and reminding us "older" folks--how cruel teenagers can be. In that regard, though the events take place in 1979 and certain things might seem a bit outdated, there is a certain timelessness to Carrie that survived through the decades since its release. Then as now, adolescents must deal with themes such as ostracization and the visceral need to fit in. Many of the scenes make you cringe and you can't help but feel for the poor girl who's had to deal with this sort of abuse her whole life.

Carrie White is a protagonist that hits rather close to home. Boy or girl, we've all known outcasts like her. And at her age, because we also wanted to fit in, the vast majority of us never stepped up to those who abused them. This is the most troubling and painful reality one must experience as an adult reading or rereading this novel. You can't help but think of the Carrie White analogues of your own past. And of course, there's no way to turn back the clock and do something about it. As such, Carrie just might be the most thought-provoking book I've read in a long time.

Unlike Carrie White, most of those teenage outcasts from our high school days never had a chance to strike back at their oppressors. This is what makes, to a certain extent, Carrie's vengeance so oddly satisfying. When the poor girl finally snaps, as we all know she would, what happens next is somewhat compulsively readable. You know it's bad and lots of innocents are about to get massacred, but you can't put the book down. The ending itself was more touching than I expected/remembered. All in all, this is a solid debut. No wonder it launched Stephen King's illustrious career.

For those wishing to read a classic or to revisit one of King's early works, know that Carrie is nearly as good now as it was upon publication nearly fifty years ago. If you can put up with an epistolary format that doesn't always work best as a narrative structure and don't mind reading a story that will dredge up disturbing memories that were best forgotten, this one's for you.

The final verdict: 7.75/10

For more info about this title, check out these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe

This week's New York Times Bestsellers (April 3rd)

In hardcover:

Olivie Blake's The Atlas Six is up five positions, ending the week at number 8. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

Sarah J. Maas's House of Sky and Breath is down two spots, finishing the week at number 11. For more info about this title, follow these Amazon Associate links: Canada, USA, Europe.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download Fonda Lee's Jade City, recent winner of the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

In this epic saga of magic and kungfu, four siblings battle rival clans for honor and power in an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis.

* Aurora Award for Best Novel, winner
* Nebula Award for Best Novel, nominee
* Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, finalist
* World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, finalist

Jade is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. It has been mined, traded, stolen, and killed for -- and for centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their magical abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.

Now, the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon's bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.

When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone -- even foreigners -- wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones -- from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets -- and of Kekon itself.

Jade City is the first novel in an epic trilogy about family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of blood and jade.

More inexpensive ebook goodies!


You can now download N. K. Jemisin's The City We Became for only 2.99$ by following this Amazon Associate link. There is a price match in Canada.

Here's the blurb:

Three-time Hugo Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author N.K. Jemisin crafts her most incredible novel yet, a story of culture, identity, magic, and myths in contemporary New York City.

In Manhattan, a young grad student gets off the train and realizes he doesn't remember who he is, where he's from, or even his own name. But he can sense the beating heart of the city, see its history, and feel its power.

In the Bronx, a Lenape gallery director discovers strange graffiti scattered throughout the city, so beautiful and powerful it's as if the paint is literally calling to her.

In Brooklyn, a politician and mother finds she can hear the songs of her city, pulsing to the beat of her Louboutin heels.

And they're not the only ones.

Every great city has a soul. Some are ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York? She's got six.