Saturday, April 10, 2010

Iron Angel

First, an update on the Thirty Days of Promotion.

Day 3 (April 8)

Made flyers and handed them out to some of my classmates.

Day 4 (April 9)

Interview and giveaway on Moira Rogers' blog. Check it out - she asked some pretty unusual questions!

Now, we return you to your regularly scheduled feature.

Iron Angel is the sequel to Scar Night, video game designer Alan Campbell’s first novel. I reviewed Scar Night some time ago, liked its background and vivid images and decided to try the sequel. All I can say is: if you love a bizarre and fantastic setting and don’t expect too much in terms of characters and story, you’ll enjoy this book.

Scar Night began in the city of Deepgate, which is suspended in chains over an abyss in which a god is trapped. Right away you know that this story will unfold over a grand canvas, and Iron Angel doesn’t disappoint. The first chapter takes place on a skyship on which another god is trapped, a ship dragged through the clouds by a huge man called John Anchor who roams about the world.

Meanwhile, Deepgate has descended into fire and chaos after the events of the first novel, but the protagonists of the story – the angel Dill and the outlaw assassin Rachel Hael –escaped to another town. Soon, though, they become involved in the scheme of yet another god, and there’s a maze in which souls are trapped, and nightmarish constructs…

I can’t say much about the plot. That’s a clothesline on which many colorful and fascinating concepts are strung. And from reading the first novel, I knew characterization would be limited. The fact that so many of the dramatis personae are gods or angels doesn’t help in this regard.

The only time I felt even disappointed was when Rachel manages to focus. Focusing is something assassins can only do once they’ve undergone an agonizing process that leaves them brainwashed and unemotional, but since Rachel is the heroine she manages to keep her feisty personality and focus anyway.

But that’s not what this book is about. It’s about the constructs.

Menoa was changing the composition of her eyes. Her vision became suddenly fragmented, like the view through the facets of a gemstone. She felt her back crimp and buckle, before she sensed something hard and flexible growing out of her spine. This protrusion split and then divided again and again.
What was he changing her into?

It’s about Cinderbark Wood, where scientists have treated the trees with toxins and poisons – as an experiment, as a trap and as a display of skill. Now the petrified forest glows like a furnace and can kill travelers in many different ways. Of course, it’s in the middle of the desert called the Deadsands, and the only water for miles around is an untouched spring in the forest’s heart.

This novel would make a fantastic RPG. Maybe it already has.

It’s about the shiftblades, which can adapt to any combat.

The scarred angel danced back from the blow. She would have avoided it easily had the shiftblade not changed form. Halfway through Trench’s strike, his sword turned into a pike.

The angel then tries to grab the pike’s shaft, so the shiftblade turns into a rapier. Ouch.

There’s a great deal of imagination, colorful names and intriguing concepts in this book – it’s the literary equivalent of a constantly shifting kaleidoscope. If you’re in the mood for that, it’s well worth a look.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like an interesting novel. And I'm also am enjoying reading about your marketing endeavors.

Angela said...

I love the cover, but I find I have a hard time with abstract settings. It all depends on how well the writer is able to get it all across.

Marian said...

Tasha: As soon as the exams are done (in a few days' time), I'll be able to do more promotion-wise. Thanks for following!

Angela: Yes, that's a superb cover!

I did feel the setting was somewhat abstract, but it was also described in a vivid and compelling way. I'm going to try an urban fantasy soon, to see if that can integrate character and plot with a strong background.