The most exciting, original and important new fantasy novel to be published since China Miéville's PERDIDO STREET STATION. A breathtakingly skilful debut.
A superb work of literary fantasy. In a truly original imagined world of breathtaking, sometimes surreal beauty, fifty utterly alien but disarmingly human immortals lead mankind in a centuries-long war.
Jant is the Messenger, one of the Circle, a cadre of fifty immortals who serve the Emperor. He is the only immortal - indeed the only man alive - who can fly.
The Emperor must protect mankind from the hordes of giant Insects who have plagued the land for centuries, eating everything and everyone in their path. But he must also contend with the rivalries and petty squabblings of his chosen immortals. These will will soon spill over into civil war.
Steph Swainston has written an astonishingly original literary fantasy. She writes beautifully. Her novel places her in a tradition of writing typified by Mervyn Peake, M. John Harrison and China Miéville. This is a breathtaking debut novel of the finest quality.
Correction: Richard Curtis is the literary agent for Harlan Ellison's Children of the Street (Forecasts, Nov. 8).SF/Fantasy/HorrorTHE YEAR OF OUR WARSteph Swainston. Eos, paper (400p) In British author Swainston's first novel, a well-written, if occasionally uneven, fantasy, three humanoid species coexist successfully in a medieval world under the rule of a benevolent, immortal emperor, supported by a circle of 50 immortal warriors. For many centuries, however, this civilization has been under attack by Insects, monstrous creatures who convert everything they conquer into the Paperlands, endless wastelands of bizarre white walls and tunnels. Now one of the immortals, Jant the Messenger, addicted to the hallucinatory drug called cat, which allows him access to an alternate universe, has discovered the Insects' secret. Despite his debilitating addiction, Jant must find a way to preserve his world against the monsters' increasing onslaught. Numerous bloody battles keep the action moving, and Swainston has a powerful sense of the surreal, but her domestic scenes tend to drag and verge on soap opera. Jant is an engaging antihero, though most of the other characters are fairly flat. This off-beat fantasy should appeal to fans of China Mi ville's fiction as well as to those who remember Roger Zelazny's Amber series with fondness.