Tarnished City picks up after Luke is sent to prison and Abi and her family, sans Daisy, are sent to the work camp. We’ve already seen the work camp in book one so there’s no way we’re going back there again which means Abi is probably going to escape and she does. This wouldn’t be a dystopian novel if someone wasn’t trying to rescue their sibling from the bad people so you guessed it, Abi will stop at nothing to rescue Luke from prison.
Onto the spoilers:
Jenner-Jenner is unskilled but we find out that he had skill until he was four. Silyen surmised that he accidentally took Jenner’s skill. No one knows this but Sil-so we think. After the guards came to get Abi and Rennie, Abi ran to Jenner but he turned her in but I believe he was under the influence of his father.
Bouda-Bouda thinks the best way to move up politically is through Gavar’s father, Whitman. Whitman is a womanizer and fears his grandkids will be unskilled because of his wife’s iffy family line. He talks Bouda into having his child and passing it off as Gavar’s. Bouda agrees and although she doesn’t enjoy Whitman, she’s in it for the Chancellor seat. She however finds out that Whitman wants to change the laws so to eliminate a democracy to more on a monarchy where the Chancellor seat is held until death. Bouda refuses to accept this and still remains loyal the Whitman where she becomes the organizer of the punishment of the work camps. One day after a rebellion, she’s reluctant to try to use her skill to put out a fire because her skill is weak and she doesn’t want to look weak in front of the unskilled but she tries anyway and her skill is actually quite powerful. She is able to summon large amounts of water. Bouda becomes frustrated with the rebellion and agrees to meet one of the leaders, Angel who was the name of her mother that was killed in a work camp rebellion. Angel turns out to be Bodina and Bouda can’t believe it’s been her the whole time. She tries to reason with Bodina but Bodina is shot and killed in front of Bouda. Whitman has convinced Bouda that the best way to quell the actions of the rebels is to bring back the Blood Fair where they allow citizens to savagely kill rebels/murderers/rapists in the square. Before the Blood Fair Jon Faiers, Bouda’s new unskilled assistant, tries to tell her that she’s a strong woman and that she’ll never be chancellor is she continues to back Whitman. Bouda becomes attracted to Jon and kisses him even though she hates unskilled.
Faiers-His mother was the unskilled representative at Parliament and we find out that his father is Rix. Rix was in love with Faier’s mother but Whitman had her sent to a work camp and Rix never forgave him. Everyone believes this was Rix’s motive for trying to get Luke to kill Whitman. Faiers hates Rix for abandoning him and tells him so. Rix is killed after he was given a dose of truth serum but it reacted badly to the stun gun inflicted by Bouda. Bouda covered up his murder. Faiers is working with Abi, Angel, and the rest of the rebels and gets info from Bouda but he seems to be attracted to her. Faiers is a complex character because we don’t really know where his loyalties lie.
Silyen-Sil is obsessed with skill and if it can be retracted and implanted into others and if it can be stored. Sil tries to force skill into Jenner when he tried to open the gate but it didn’t work. Euterpe is distraught over the death of Zelston and continuously burns down her house and wants to die but he skill won’t allow it. Sil figures out how to take her skill and keep it for himself and she dies. Sil blackmails Rix with his knowledge that Rix was the one to Silence Luke and in return he become Rix’s ward and heir to his estate and this also enables Sil to leave his house. Bouda is upset because she wanted to be heir giving her more power. When Rix dies, Sil becomes a member of Parliament. While at the House of Light, Sil becomes able to see in gold. He can see skilled ones. He harbors Dog and knows he’s about to kill his relative for the murder of Dog’s wife and Sil allows it. Before Luke is sent to prison, Sil tells him, ” If you don’t try to escape, I won’t let him break you not beyond repair.” This is important to Luke. Sil visits Luke in prison to see in his head. The only person placed the silence and quiet can release it but since Rix is dead and they know it was Rix who did it, Sil and Crovan can and do get into Luke’s head. Sil doesn’t touch Luke because he’s too powerful so Crovan does and they see: a field of grass with a mountain and trees; two bright flares with one resembling lightning strikes (skill) against a dark wall and the other was a sun blazing and a thread of fire trailing Luke. He reached out to touch it and it resembles a golden spider of silk. He saw a young man with wild hair with his hand resting of a neck of a stag with sharp branching antlers. Above him an eagle screamed in the sky. The wild hair was actually a crown of twigs and flowers. The person with the wild hair had golden eyes like an owl. (pg 261). Also when Sil looked at Coira, he saw that she had skill. I theorize that Sil is a scientist and wants to know all the benefits of skill. I think he does want to end slave days by showing the skilled that their inactivity has rendered them weak and that if they use their skill, they will be powerful enough to exist without slaves.
Gavar-He loves is daughter and wants the country to see that she was born to an unskilled but is equal. Bouda doesn’t want this and tells Gavar that they are making a law that removes mixed offspring from their skilled family and forces them into slave days. When his family is attacked, Gavar’s skill comes out. He can slow down time and run very fast. Bouda is impressed by this. Gavar is disgusted when he sees Rennie at the Blood Fair and rescues Abi from the fair. Gavar loved Leah but Sil’s meddling with skill made Gavar become full of anger and possessive and when Leah took Libby, Gavar became enraged that she was taking his daughter and killed her. He regrets it.
Abi-She escapes to Johnson/Meilyr’s house and they agree to rescue Luke. They cook up a scheme to rescue Luke and when they get to the prison, Meilyr sacrifices himself to take Luke’s place but when Crovan is threatened by Meilyr, Crovan’s butler/prisoner shoots Meilyr in the head. Abi joins the revolution and when they are raided, she runs to Jenner.
Luke-The prison is basically a social experiment. Prisoners are divided into servants and guests and the guests are allowed to rule over servants. Crovan is making the case that when you give the powerless power, they will get bored and become selfish and cruel. Luke comes in as a guest but is never cruel. He meets a servant Coira and discovers she is Crovan’s daughter. He tells Coira and tries to get her to see if she has skill but she can’t summon it. Coira inadvertently releases Luke from prison because only the master of the house (?) can release them which Coira does. Luke realizes this but pretends he doesn’t when Crovan sees him outside. Crovan punishes Luke for trying to escape but it doesn’t really hurt Luke because of what Silyen said about not trying to escape. Luke does escape when Crovan leave the prison and he gets to the square to see Abi on the Blood Fair stage.