Monday, 22 August 2011

'Roil' - Trent Jamieson

Roil is the first part of The Nightbound Land duology . Roil is Trent Jamieson's first book for the robot overlords, but not his first novel. He has a written a number of books prior to Roil, and it's from his Death Works series that I know of him, and although I have never read them they are books I would like to read one day. Let's focus on Roil though. Not sure about the cover for it, just a tad to mangaesque for me. The blurb was a different story though and it really caught my eye when the book was first announced back in January (2011). A vast cloud of darkness, the Roil, is spreading across the country. Inhabited by unspeakable horrors killing everything in their past. The armies of the world defeated. Only three very unlikely heroes are left to stop the spread of the Roil, a useless young man, a four thousand year old man and young woman. I've seen similar things before, but if it works why change it? Angry Robot very kindly sent me a book to review.

It starts with a murder. David watches as his father's throat is slit through a drug induced calm. His father's politics has finally crossed the line for what his opponents can tolerate when so much is at stake. More blood will be spilled before the night is over. David escapes with the killers hot on his heels. Hungry and lonely he hides and runs with very little hope of escaping the blades of his father's enemies.

Margaret is also making her escape, but from something even worse than assassins. Her parents are brilliant scientists and thanks to their efforts her city has managed to keep the creatures of the Roil at bay for twenty years now. Something has changed though, they are no longer simple beasts, now they move and kill with a purpose. Their eyes burn with intelligence and malice as they destroy her city. Margaret has been fighting these creatures all her life, her weapons are fully charged, her heart filled with fury. She will have her vengeance, she must reach the fabled Engines of the World and activate it to destroy the Roil. Problem is, no one really knows if the Engines of the World exist or how to operate them.

No one except Cadell. He is one of the Old Men, thousands of years old, shrouded in myths and legends. His release is the reason why David’s father was murdered. Together they have to stop the Roil and save the world.
The inconsolable heavens wept and lightning split the darkness, revealing a Quarg Hound, hunched down on the corner of the street, its broad back twisted with muscle. Saliva streamed, black and thick, from a mouth that was too wide, and a malicious gleam lit its huge eyes. More disconcerting was the intelligence David perceived within them, something lacking in any of the hounds David had encountered before.
I found quite a few things that I liked about Roil, first of all Trent Jamieson has done an incredible job with the world building. There are a number of different factions involved and working towards their own goals. They have all been given rich background and clear motivations. Each faction has their own agents with different capabilities, no mere humans here. Even though some factions work against the protagonist, they are not necessarily evil, it's more that they are doing the wrong thing for the right reasons. A lot of thought has gone into the world and its politics. Context and exposition is skilfully delivered without bloating and slowing down the plot. I really liked the small excerpts from historical books and private each chapter. I'm left with a sense of wonder, Trent Jamieson's world both captivated and fascinated me with all its layers of complexity.

The very same can be said about his characters who all have a very different range of abilities and personalities. I found them to be very engaging, creating rich plot with many different and interesting obstacles for them to overcome. The plot reminded me of Lord of the Rings, simple, just drop the ring in the volcano. What could possibly go wrong there? Roil has some similarities with an ancient and very powerful old man, a slightly useless young man and darkness spreading across the world. Luckily, Roil is quicker to read and a lot more pacy.

I feel I need to congratulate Angry Robot for yet another great signing in Trent Jamieson. After reading Roil I must pick up his other books. Roil seems to have it all, a rich world, characters that both engage and horrify you and a plot that makes you want to come back for more. It was a very difficult book to put down at night, the pages seemed to turn themselves. Roil also has greatness, so far no epic battles, but it's there, that feeling of something epic. It's hard to categorise and right now it's leaning towards a steampunk fantasy, but there are hints of more advanced SF technology. Anyone will enjoy this book.

Roil weighs in at 432 pages and is published by Angry Robot. UK release is the 1st of September 2011and US release is 30th of August.

Recommendation: must read

1 comment:

  1. Good summary, takes the good with the bad.

    is link to mine, enjoy!
    Looking forward to next book and your opinion of "Night's Engines"