“A world without monsters is a dangerous place”
In a world where monsters are very real, City in the Desert
opens on a hunter, Irro, and his assistant, Hari, a girl with, as Irro put it, “some of the best attributes of a monkey”—clever, quick, agile, and, uh, a prehensile tail. The father-like Irro appears to be on some sort of solo monster safari—packing unique, homemade weapons, he seems more concerned with taking down the beasts than with studying them. Riding a part-robot part-beast yak-like creature with a monkey-girl at his side, the story seems at first almost like Curious George
meets Victorian-era wild game hunters. Had that been the case I would have been perfectly satisfied to read a delightful child-like exploration of this desert world full of strange and mythical beasts and strange, wonderful treasures.
What I got was vastly better and more sophisticated.