Gwynn and Raule are rebels on the run, with little in common except being on the losing side of a hard-fought war. Gwynn is a gunslinger from the north, a loner, a survivor . . . a killer. Raule is a wandering surgeon, a healer who still believes in just--and lost--causes. Bound by a desire to escape the ghosts of the past, together they flee to the teeming city of Ashamoil, where Raule plies her trade among the desperate and destitute, and Gwynn becomes bodyguard and assassin for the household of a corrupt magnate. There, in the saving and taking of lives, they find themselves immersed in a world where art infects life, dream and waking fuse, and splendid and frightening miracles begin to bloom . . .
From the Trade Paperback edition.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Published: Random House Publishing Group an imprint of Random House Publishing Group on Nov 23, 2004
Existential claptrap. Ponderous and boring. Not a fun read. I expected better.read more
The attempted revolution in Copper Country has failed, and Gwynn the killer and Raule the doctor were both on the losing side. After spending years on the run from the victors' hunter squads, they stumble on each other again. They make a final run across the great salt desert, they travel on the steep railway up the Teleute shelf - and end up in a very different world indeed.In the city state of Ashamoil they are separated almost immediately. Raule, not being allowed to practice medicine because she's a woman, is forced to take up a position as a healer of the poor in the slums. Gwynn begins to work as a henchman for a slave merchant, something Raule detests and which causes her to break all contact with him. Their paths cross from time to time, but the friendship that was is dead.When Gwynn meets Beth, a talented but disturbing artist, his grounded, mundane, material existance is soon sent spinning. Weirdness creeps into Ashamoil's underbelly, and Beth is right at the centre of it.This was a very original fantasy novel in many ways. It creates a world that is different but still "normal", where fantastical things does NOT tend to happen (indeed, our main character doesn't even believe in magic, spirit or the divine), making it confusing, scary and life-changing when they do. Also, it borrows it's imagery from surrealism, creating a dreamlike ambience where a lot of things are not explained or just hinted at. The magic of this book has nothing to do with your stapleware wands and fire bolts. Here it's an axe that leaves wounds full of growing flowers, a priest spawning locusts from his palms, a man with a lotus growing from his navel and the slow and painful process of turning into a mythological beast. It's not quite like anything I've read, but Jeff Ford's Well-built City trilogy springs to mind, as does Michael Ende's Der Spiegel im Spiegel.The last fifty pages or so are perhaps a little abstract for my taste (except for the epilogue which is beautiful!), and it's a shame Bishop couldn't quite take proper care for her other main character (Raule's storyline is so much thinner than Gwynn's it kind of tilts the book's balance a bit). But if you are okay with your fantasy leaving open ends and unsolved riddles, I very much recommend this strong debut novel.read more
I enjoyed some of the setting and details, but it felt like the author didn't quite know what she wanted to do with the novel. It needed a bit more of a spine.read more
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