Paperback 384 pages (April 1, 2005)
Steph Swainson is following in the footsteps of China Mieville and others in the growing ‘new weird’ movement, and currently something of a darling amongst certain elements of the Guardian literary set.
The fact is, all the hype is justified and I’m a bit jealous. You could call it Rock and Roll fantasy, but that sounds horribly clich?and tired even before you actually sit down and read it. This is her first novel, and it deserves to be every bit the success it is.
Set in a world of several humanoid races threatened by legions of giant insects, the main characters are amongst group of 50 immortals chosen by an Emperor to safeguard mankind. An excellent ploy well though out, they can have decades of personal history, and be moved into different situations through time as the series progresses. They also have cool super hereo-esque names. Good concepts abound throughout. The lead character is Jant, aka Comet the Messenger. He can fly, has a beautiful wife and could live forever, but is still wonderfully flawed. A vain, horny and aqua-phobic junkie, he makes for an engaging and appealing lead. Jants’ drug addiction is a central theme in the book, simultaneously destroying him whilst providing answers to some of his and mankind’s’ greatest problems. The best sequences occur as a result of his tripping, and allow Swainstons’ imagination to run riot. Mortal humans feature little; except for those who aspire to immortality and the lengths they will go to achieve it. Often, their behaviour leads the real immortals wanting. This also provides a nice little analogy to modern western society and the cult of celebrity. None of this would matter zip where she not a good writer. Luckily, she is, being humorous, sarcastic, romantic and sensual in near-perfect proportions.]]>