At last, a post that actually relates to the fantasy and science fiction theme of my blog!
I picked up this book a short time ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s fantasy-meets-steam-punk with free diving, surreal visions of a dream-world, child warriors who channel demons before going into battle, magicians who feed off their own children and honourable people forced into situations with no honourable way out. What’s not to like?
The whole thing is set in a world that blends late-19th century European technology with quasi-Oriental martial-arts monks, totem animal spirits, submerged, quasi-Mayan pyramids, and psychic/maybe technologically advanced Kings Behind the World. Frankly, I’m amazed that Wigmore is able to make all of this work, yet he does it convincingly.
I had one or two niggles with the story, primarily with an extreme turn in the relationship between two of the main characters about half-way through. But Wigmore’s ability to portray the inner-struggle between certainty and doubt in several characters more than made up for any shortfalls. Beyond the sheer imaginativeness of the setting, it was this conflict that, for me, really set this novel apart from the average fantasy-fare on the market. Watching the boy-warrior Teshi struggle with the question of whether or not it was right to allow himself to be possessed by an angelic spirit was easily as interesting as the main story-line.
There are flaws in the book–a couple of characters who act like petulant teenagers (perhaps intentional, as they are teenagers) and a few odd phrasings near the start of the novel–but, overall, it is the unique setting, the blend of genres and the story that I remember most. That must count as a success.