Reading level: Adult
Genre: Steampunk Fantasy
Size: 432 pages
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release Date: August 30, 2011
Stand Alone or Series: Stand Alone
Source: ARC through NetGalley.com
Rating: 4/5 stars
I got an advanced reading copy of this book through NetGalley.com. The premise was very intriguing and I was excited to read the book. It was an incredibly creative world, that followed some interesting characters through a dark steampunk adventure. This book is the first in a series called The Nightbound Lands.
Margaret is the daughter of some famous scientists, when her home town falls to the Roil she is forced to flee through the Roil and try to find a way to help stop the Roil’s expansion. David is a drug addict who is on the run from political enemies of his father; he meets up with an Old Man named Cadell and is suddenly forced to follow the Old Man into battles he doesn’t want to be part of and into more danger than he can bear. All of the characters are fighting to survive the spread of the Roil which is expanding at increased speed.
Jamieson has created an incredibly interesting and complex world in this book. It is one of the most interesting worlds I have ever read about. The world is being taken over by the Roil; think of it kind of as The Nothing in The Neverending Story, but rather than being full of nothing it is a huge hot darkness full of nightmarish creatures. The surviving world is grouped into metropolises that survive by fighting with cold weapons and technology. The story has a steampunk overtone at times; Margaret’s city runs off of steam powered things and there are dirigibles.
In this incredibly complex world is, of course, complex politics. You have the group that David’s father belongs to which seem to be working with the four thousand year old, Old Man…kind of. You have the Vergers and the Drifters all trying to survive and reign supreme. There are also the Cuttlefolk, who aren’t quite human, and then of course all the horrible creatures that exist within the Roil.
As if that isn’t enough there is a grand engine running the whole world, dirigibles, and the mysterious Vastkind that pop up here and there in the story.
Then there are the characters. Margaret and David are both interesting to read about; the beginning the book follows their adventures separately. These are the type of characters you won’t necessarily love or connect with on an emotional level (they have their low selfish moments as well as their heroic moments) but they are interesting to read about and follow. You also read the story from a number of other different viewpoints; both Medicine Paul and the Old Man tell significant portions of the story. I am not a huge fan of having such a multitude of viewpoints because it breaks up the story and makes things a bit confusing at first.
I was a little disappointed in the ending because everything was just finally set up and the characters were finally fighting together and then the book just ended. I didn’t realize this was part of a series, and I was a little bummed that I couldn’t read how everything would play out. This is a very complicated story and I felt like by the time I got everything sorted out and was actually beginning to understand this world well…the story was over.
Overall I really enjoyed this book. The author builds an incredibly interesting world. There is a lot of action, some adventure, and some politics. I loved the idea of the Roil and the mystery that surrounds it. The characters weren’t the strong point of the story, but they were well done and provided a good vehicle for the plot. Some of the characters and creatures presented are extremely mysterious and I am eager to learn more about them. I was disappointed with how abruptly the story ended. So readers just beware that this is part of a series and nothing is really resolved in this first book. Fans of epic fantasy, or complicated dark fantasy adventures should enjoy this book. I would encourage steampunk fans to check it out too (although no romance here, so probably not a book for those who like romance in their steampunk). It is an incredibly creative and a very engaging read; I will definitely be checking out future books in this series.