Book Review: City of Bridges: The Seven Portals Book 1

City of Bridges: The Seven Portals Book 1 by Andre Jones

There are role playing games (RPGs)  based on books, and books based on role playing games. City of Bridges is a book based on an RPG the author created himself two decades ago.

In the Author's Notes for City of Bridges, Andre Jones explains that he became frustrated with the rules of RPGs he was playing back then and so spent several months devising a gaming system and fantasy world of his own. He got far enough along that he even had friends test it out. 

And then, as they say, life got in the way. Even though he wasn’t able to pursue his gaming ambitions he did find time to explore his fantasy world in writing. Now, after he has concluded a successful career in the Australian Navy, Jones' fantasy world is finally available in book form.

City of Bridges is the first part of a fantasy series set in the world of Yarnik. There are multiple races and religions in this world, and both science and magic are present. 

In this first book Jones takes us on a quest along with Leonie, the main character. Leonie is a thief and a hybrid creature - part rrell (a feline-like species) and part human. 

The action begins with the appearance in Delta (the title city of bridges) of a tome known as the Seer’s Codex. It comes into Leonie’s hands after she finds herself in the midst of a street fight over the Codex when it is initially snuck into the city. Leonie’s boss Jade - the head of the guild of thieves - recognizes the book’s importance and tasks Leonie to deliver it to the hroltahgs (another race of beings) in the city of Qelay. They may be the only ones able to interpret the text of the Codex. Jade assigns the shapeshifter Feiron to accompany Leonie.

From there Leonie and Feiron encounter one challenge after another, as new races of beings and warriors from differing religious sects are introduced. There is lots of action as Leonie seeks to protect the Codex and deliver it into the hands of those more knowledgeable than she. After delivering the Codex it becomes clear that she may be “The One” foretold in the book to fulfill a large role in the history of Yarnik.

Jones excels at character building. Leonie, Feiron and the other characters in the book are fully drawn out, with interesting backstories and their own faults and frustrations (and their individual senses of humor). The world he builds is also quite interesting, complex and complete. 

For my tastes though the plot was a bit frustrating. I have to admit I have never gotten into role playing games and Jones’ plot hewed closely to the expectations of role play. There’s a lot of discussion about “powers” as Leonie’s abilities increase through the book and her encounters on her quest. Of course this is not unexpected given the book’s origins, and is not, I am sure, a disqualification for a lot of readers. In fact it’s likely a prerequisite.

As the book progresses there are hints of things to come in the rest of the series, but the story stands on its own quite well.

So, if you are a fan of role playing games I think you’d like this book quite a lot. It’s full of interesting characters, a fascinating world and a plot straight out of an RPG. For me it’s a Three Star ⭐⭐⭐ fantasy adventure that I enjoyed reading. 

NOTE: I recieved a free copy from the author and Henry Roi PR. I am voluntarily providing my review.

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Title: City of Bridges: The Seven Portals Book 1
Author: Andre Jones
Publisher: Alien Press  
Publish Date: August 11, 2020
ISBN-13: 9780648910503
List Price: $25.99 AUS (Trade Paperback as of 1/2022)