Of Earth and Blood (excerpt), Chapter 1

Yeah. Soren crawled down that hole.

Yeah. Soren crawled down that hole.

(Pulled out the ol’ second book for a spell, just to see how the two stories lined up. I’ve done a lot of rewriting of the first novel. I

decided to post it here. It is a long, 4k excerpt, and only half of the first chapter. You are warned. lol)

If you spend enough time talking to your shadow, your shadow talks back. Not that anybody listens.

My toes touched carpet that touched sand, a salt-sea breeze drifting through cinderblock walls. The sun filtered hot through rafters. Two chairs waited, one wedged between a pair of identical full-length mirrors.

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What Makes Good Fantasy?

Taken from Carl Jung's personal diary The Red Book, Liber Novus

Taken from Carl Jung’s personal diary The Red Book, Liber Novus

(Ah, Where Fantasy and Psychology meet!)

I talked to a woman yesterday who had an interest in what I did in my free time, while not at work. I told her I wrote fantasy novels, and she instantly smiled a matronly smile and asked what kind of fantasy. Choosing to talk about the latest WiP, I told her it was High Fantasy, where a bunch of people go on a journey. As an afterthought, I added it was similar in style to Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, though not so descriptive.

She sighed. “Ah. Do you write anything else? I’m not much of a fan of Tolkien’s work.”

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Book Cover Ideas

 

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So I’ve recently seen some other fantasy writers’ cover art (Aurian and Jin, among others) and it’s got me actively thinking about my own.

I’ve spend the past four years considering this book cover idea, and I’ve had several “THAT’S IT!” moments. To be perfectly frank, if this book were a baby, I’d’ve had two false labors and two botched C-Sections. Yeah. Nothing about this enjoyable piece is coming along smoothly. Actually, I’ve come to think of it more as a Pinocchio than a real boy. I redid that poor boy’s left forearm more times than anything else…

So the title was a really, really long process. The words themselves took half of Mr. King’s so-called million words, and the cover art is no better than anything else. I’m not sure if I have many followers, or watchers, or whatever, still interested in this webpage, but I want to run it by people, and if interested, you could leave your vote on your favorite book cover idea.

The tagline for the book is “Soren has run from his demons all his life, but when a priest begs him for help, he can’t help but take up arms against those in the Astral who would go to war against him. And this time? The demons are real.”

Three sentences. Yeah whatever. Given it’s book one in a series of seven (I like series of seven. I don’t know why.), It’s got a few themes. Titles, for instance. This novel is named “Of Salt and Wine,” because those are the symbols/tools most connected with the evil he fights. Book two is “Of Earth and Blood,” and so on. It’s taken from one of the lines he says in the book, 2/3rds of the way through: “Those of Salt and Wine, I come for you.” Kind of like a war cry, I guess. It was originally called “It Gave Me a Name,” because his darkness, yes, a character, gives him the name of a demon. I liked the rhythm, but it had too many words. People would get confused, I thought, so I strived to be more and more simple in my idea. It perhaps could even end up as “Salt and Wine,” although I absolutely love the “Of” at the beginning, as if it were part of a much larger thought. Which it is.

So the book cover should be as important. I began this project with the idea of a layout of symbols or tools, a la Game of Thrones or Guy Gavriel Kay’s novels. Book one would have a series of thirteen horizontal staves, or several pieces of jewelry, or better yet, a vintage 1800’s tattoo of skulls and vines and whatever the evil looks like. Several experts added their thoughts, stating the best way to sell a fantasy is to depict a scene from the book on the cover, with Magic: The Gathering-esque card art for the cover, similar to the Wheel of Time books. It would most likely have Soren standing in a septagram on the altar of a church while a big read, Diablo-inspired demon pours green liquid into a played priest’s throat. I like those ideas, but I’m thinking a little more traditional. Something I could lay out for all seven books in the series, with small but connective variations. In fact, I’ve already rough-draft finished book two. I’m that serious about this stuff.

So, I’ll run through a handful of ideas. If any single one presents more of a visceral response, please please please say something about it. I don’t mind if you’ve never been here before and are never coming back. I’d absolutely love the feedback.

1) Horizontal (or vertical) staves, all of different woods, straight, like prison bars

2) The “O” of “Of Salt and Wine” being Soren’s personal symbol, while the S of Salt is actual salt and the dot of the i in Wine is actually a goblet of wine

3) The wall of masks Soren has in his home, all looming down

4) A tattoo of Soren’s, laid over polished hardwood floor (he has twelve)

5) The Blackwood Shillelagh, his Modus Operandi for the book and most important item he uses, glowing at the bulb

6) Vintage 1800’s art in the form of a tattoo, possibly using a human or demon skull as the focal point, with dandelion leaves spread out (think this, only inked and not so 3D)

7) Closeup of a man in a suit, tightening his tie, with his sleeve cuff charred or burned or even aflame

8) Closeup of a man in a kurta, signing a mudra, the head of a snake tattoo stretching across his wrist

9) “Evolution” type silhouette, with the four demons, Jack, Olivia, and Soren, walking down the street one behind the other

10) Demon symbol for Ferrulous (circular and striking)

11) Soren at the top of the stairs, wailing at a door half-covered in tar

12) Soren in the septagram, hands up pleadingly, in the classical pose like daVinci and other Reformation artists, toward a demon

13) Soren’s childhood door, half-covered in tar, with Soren’s symbol scratched in chalk

14) A goblet of wine, ringed in salt like a Margarita

15) A man in a top-hat, face obscured, standing off-kilter to a backdrop of brick

16) A man playing chess alone in a park

 

That’s all I got. Any thoughts? 

 

Chris

Let’s Talk About Drugs!

Said the clown to the priest.

No. Writing a book based on any level of “realism” (or at the very least, depth) requires the writer to study the periphery. The periphery could involve any number of things. In fact, in fantasy (and dare I say, in reality) the possibilities are damn near endless. Writing an urban fantasy novel (UF from here on out) usually brings about images of sardine-packed apartment buildings, grungy streets, dark alleys, bricks and concrete and unnatural yellow streetlights. What good city doesn’t have those? Farther on the periphery, the main character (MC from here on out) hears dogs barking–which a friend of mine once wrote a very in-depth analysis of what part these barking dogs have in our subconscious; interesting little read–or perhaps people talking in the distance. The MC passes shadowy shapes in alleys, perhaps, or nobody at all. The MC is silhouetted against bar windows or restaurants or vacant buildings. The MC stops in front of graffiti. All important.

Yet. One major aspect of the Real Life Urban scene is drug use. I haven’t read much UF with drug use as a periphery. I don’t know why. Given I’ve never done illegal drugs, never inhaled mary jane, never rolled Ecstasy, perhaps most fantasy writers haven’t either. It’s something they know nothing about, therefore it is either overlooked or ignored in the story.

I understand it. I don’t like it. We write about dragons but not drugs? We write about hellfire but not drug-use? The only time I see much discussion of it is when it’s a pivotal point of the story, where some supernatural investigator seeks the truth in some drug-user’s death–usually, where the drug is the magical, I dunno, tool used to move the story forward. Which is cool. I love those stories. I just want more of it. Especially in UF.

And high fantasy (HF from here on out) included! What? Pirates didn’t use opiates? Your scoundrels exist in a drug-free world even though there’s an ecosystem as complex as anything that exists on Earth? Hell no. I refuse to believe it.

Now if you want a fairy tale with no drugs, that’s fine. Plain and pure and storytelling at its best? Sounds perfect. Go for it. It has its place. Drugs are a dark side to society most people want to escape from. It might not have a healthy place in your story.

But I want more of it. I want the guy that’s high as a kite, he just might, stop and check the MC out. I want the Trent Reznor-type in an intimidating-as-shit black duster roaring in the MC’s face as he’s hyped up on PCP. Why not? It’s scary. A kind of scary a lot of people don’t want to get involved with. Perhaps a little Too Real. But it’s UF. And, if you do it right, it’s a damn easy way to make an intimidating Antagonist downright terrifying.

Take The Professional, for instance. The movie made in ’91 (or was it ’94?). Gary Oldman stars as the bad guy, a crooked cop that’s actually head of the DEA. The guy’s a loose cannon. Not someone you want to play Russian Roulette with. Add his little pill he pops (literally pops) in his mouth, he transforms into something else. Every single aspect of what makes that man sane, and with boundaries, is gone. Whisked away with the intense high.

Here’s the thing. It can be just on the periphery. It can be a secondary character that simply was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It can be an average joe the reader trusts. And he can change in an instant. That stuff is powerful.

To extend the thought–magic. Oh crap, magic! You can have a magical drug that does nothing to most but changes a few. You can have a time-delay magical drug that simply gives all the peaceful effects of a steaming cup of tea, but have three successive loud noises, whoa Nelly! Run for the hills. It allows you to create monsters out of timid mice, sleeper agents who truly know nothing of their place, or just, heck, plain old frostbitten Josh Nobody looking to take the edge off his gangrenous foot. For as long as humanity has existed, drugs have coincided. Alcohol aside! I think there’s a huge market for any writer willing to get his fingers dirty, understanding drugs and, farther in, humanity’s need of them.

A professor once told me to use the rule of ten doors. Major decisions require ten outcomes. Write them down. Pick the best. Go to a smaller choice. Rule of ten. Write them down. Choose the best. And so on. It helps with writer’s block and everything. It also does a great job of painting the picture when it comes to drug use: drugs have different effects for different people, even the same dose. It makes for wonderful storytelling and, given the magic world the MC lives in, could possibly turn bad into worse or good into terrible.

I’ll do it now!

Dashing Tom Perfect just had a run-in with Josuha Random Reefer Toking while on his way to deliver a medallion!

1) He puts his head down and ignores him, creating foreshadowing for JRR Toking later in the story
2) He takes a moment to listen to JRR Toking and his far-out stories of Nevernever Earth and inadvertently adds humor to the otherwise stoic, dry story
3) He realizes Mr. Toking is smoking Magical Marijuana, and any contact high could relinquish DTP’s perfect mental control over himself, creating small conflict
4) He listens to JRR Toking, who is really an escaped torture victim for (Antagonist’s name here), and he can only survive this hellish life by smoking the reef and drifting through the world as a vagrant
5) JRR Toking is smoking to get up the courage to talk to Dashing Tom, because he has Vital Information!
6) DTP has had a negative experience with potheads, where his half-brother (half-elf) smoked too much pot and burned his life away to mediocrity, despite having a brilliant mind. DTP therefore puts Toking in a choke-hold and ties him up in the back of his pedivan.
7) DTP smells more than marijuana on JRR Toking’s breath, recognizing the effects of a much more damaging drug, the Soulfie, where JRR Toking slowly gives his soul away to a powerful douche-cerer.
8) JRR Toking is a conspiracy theorist who loves to think about the possibility of a universe whole-mind, where everyone can talk to each other psychically and nobody has to poop. That’s all. Oh and he’s a cunning thief in disguise and steals the medallion.
9) DTP recognizes the sociopolitical ramifications of JRR Toking walking the streets in such rags–but wait, isn’t that the insignia of a freedom fighting group he wears as a patch on his skinny jeans?
10) JRR Toking reminds DTP of a friend DTP once had, stops the man, talks to him a moment, and realizes the poor bastard is a war vet with A WHOLE LOT OF STORIES TO TELL. And firearms training.

Alrighty. That’s just one line of decisions, all rife with information. I’m not feeling particularly inspired at the moment (Really stressed) so I bypassed some of the deeper thoughts. Any one of those decisions could lead to another major decision. So on and so forth.

So. I advocate drug use. In fantasy novels.

My Brand of Fantasy Magic

…isn’t really fantasy at all. Magical realism, perhaps?

I recently re-watched Constantine (starring The Man of One Face: Keanu Reeves), where the protagonist spends his life fighting to keep the balance between heaven and hell via magical relics, know-how, and insight into traveling to hell and back. He’s dark, brooding, quippy, and so self-destructive he’s dying of lung cancer. It’s a delve into what I consider magical realism: people, many people, believe wholeheartedly that the ability exists (even if it’s only for one person) to… insert random miracle here. Be it travel through hell, talk to the dead, turn water to wine, transform into a totem-animal, talk to rocks, converse with ancestors long dead, see auras, dowse, possess another person/animal.

A lot of people don’t. And that’s cool. A lot of people pursue religion as a form of self-government, so instead of spending the time to understand themselves, they look to religion: “This is bad (according to the Book), so I won’t do it.” It also kills multiple birds by creating a community of similar-thinking people, which reinforces the feeling of “this is right.” Which is cool. That’s what certain governmental bodies do. And we’re governed by many circles, be it personal, family, friends, religion, spiritual (separate from religion), communal, work, local, federal, world. And that’s just what I pulled off the top. This is a digression and I’ll stop it now. I’m trying to show how this also holds its own forms of power: any single one of these bubbles could specify “this is bad” and a person follow it simply because, well, someone says to. Even the “personal” circle. Which in itself is a form of mind control.

I had a simple purpose when I began writing twelve years ago: have fun, connect with people, share my thoughts. It’s still the same purpose, albeit a little evolved. My thoughts developed into something a little stronger: magic is real. Some magic is real. Not all. Magic Missiles and two hundred foot orc giants with enchanted tree trunks for armor isn’t. Science keeps trying to say it has all the answers worth knowing (while people touting Science as the new religion also try to say, like a marijuana enthusiast, Science has ALL the answers), but it doesn’t. Neil deGrasse Tyson recently said, “That’s what’s so great about science. You don’t have to believe in it for it to be true. It exists without your permission.”

Mostly.

I know enough about Science to know the importance of “observable” and “human fallacy.” I’ve been reading about human beings having more than five senses. More like nine. Pressure, balance to name two. It really doesn’t matter how often Science revises what truths it accepts as fact. What matters is it’s always changing in its definition, always updating its databases.

Next, to define science into two subcategories: hard science (physics for one) and soft science (psychology for two). I know too many well-meaning Science worshippers who put it all together. Soft sciences, the stuff our thoughts are made of, the stuff of our dreaming, of our extra-sensories, of our deeper knowledge, of our abstract pattern recognitions, is very wide open and mostly unexplored, despite the 100 or so years we’ve had to study it. Why? Unobservable. Or, difficult to observe. Assumptions based on calculations and patterns of tests.

Magic is a soft science. In fact, eventually, all that “magic” will fall into some sub-sub category of either a sense or quirk of one or two chromosomes in some errant mutative family line (or, you know, something a person develops through meditation and a proven set of practices). Since our realities are subjected to the extent of our senses, there is nothing–absolutely nothing–to say I can’t dream another person’s dreams, for example. Or travel a place constructed wholly of peoples’ thoughts, over time, like a great big living world placed overtop our own. Or fight constructs of modern religion with sheer self-certainty alone.

We all give off energy. That’s a fact. We exist because of it. Byproducts of processes going in in our bodies. We can’t see it. We assume the effect of said energy release is negligible to our surroundings simply because, since we can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

I find a new awakening going on, in this culture. In this society. A long, long time ago, during the time of the birthing religions (200 BC to, say, 1000 AD), the understanding exploded of a second, third, and perhaps even fourth sublayer above the Real. This is the stuff of the new old religions. It is the backbone. Now that religion is failing so many people of this time of “Scientific Certainty,” they’re turning to Science and Atheism. Which is cool. They do their thing. As long as they aren’t killing in the name of Neil deGrasse Tyson, it’s all gravy.

The New Reformation, I guess, comes. Or a Second Enlightenment. I’m only sorry I don’t get to know it fully.

So the magic I use in my writing comes from a deep place, a sub-tonal to the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the Gitas, and the Books of the Dead, and whatever else. It comes from a constructed place–a governing place similar to those I listed–where the reality is multi-faceted, science is currently too short-sighted to involve itself, and energy talks with the voice of long-dead preachers. The magic I use is energy, plain and pure, built up on the shoulder-plates of imaginative thinkers and socio-pariahs like Einstein and Twain and Jung who, in another century (or life), would be heralded as prophets or even gods.

My brand of fantasy magic comes from the coupling of intelligent thought and passionate realization, of fever dreams and deep stillness. My brand of magic is the extent of the human condition, of spirituality that exists for itself, of ripe power sieved through governing filters. And that’s just in the reality.

In my writing, it collects the results of What Ifs and runs tests until the pattern is undeniable in its repetition.

Sorry. Magic is a lot of things. For me, it must stem from reality. It must stem from science and its branches are religion. Its fruits are you and I, the readers and writers, and it’s more than simply an axe-like tool. It’s a whole undiscovered place, like a continent with slightly different rules. It’s a way of breathing. It’s a way of bleeding. It’s a way of interaction.

It’s so. Fucking. Sexy.

“Of Salt and Wine,” an Overview

Urban fantasy conjures thoughts of oily streets and gritty dialogue, where the whole city seems to change shape at night, and sometimes (As Pollack’s City’s Son novel shows) even the buildings wake up to wage war. Born partially out of the Harry Potter womb of (what I’d call) Classical British Fantasy, partially out of a new generation of D&D/MTG/WoW players (and the crossbred explosion that is Butcher’s Dresden files), and partially out of a growing number of equally interested women partaking in said fantasy/games/writing, UF has cornered the fantasy shelves like Stephen King and Koontz cornered horror back in the ’80’s. UF could even be seen as Horror Lite (with all the aspartame your squirmy little brain needs to cloud out for a while). But it isn’t. There is no Metallica backing this genre, only alternative about being radioactive, or haunted and dead, or hipster emogoth. No biker gangs smoking huge cigars and reading by candlelight.

This is a new breed.

Yet, as I’ve read many Big Publishers say, UF is dying. We’ve written all we can on the subject. We’ve even exhausted sub genres of Steampunk and Cyberpunk and… Gaslight and everything else under the creaky, oily sun. What Is Left? The werewolves are overdone and diluted to 90% water, 10% adrenaline. The vampires are more spoiled kids and less immortal world changers. And the undead. Gosh, get rid of the rotting flesh and you have, well, a much more compelling story in war. Heck. Hunger Games is tapping into THAT niche. And Divergent. And all the spinoff Urban Scifi to come.

My Urban Fantasy novel is different. It breathes through the real world. It steps back, behind the curtain, to examine the stuff that comes from a deeper place. Think Poe. Think Lovecraft. Think the earth-thumping, soul-twisting stuff that made Christianity so terrifying back in the dark ages. Think dead poets like Peguey, forgotten pieces from Stoker, from the Gitas, from the Book of Judas, the ravings of Jung’s forbidden diary. Real-world experience, from a real-world shaman, tapping softly on drums so well you hear them in your dreams.

Demons. Doppelgängers. Shadows that know your name. Old gods. Mysticism exhaled with a tremble. All those things you know is real, but science hasn’t quite. Caught. Up. To explain. Sometimes, it’s downright quantum.

But that’s later.

This is the story of a broken man, and of the priest who tries to save him–no. This is the story of a desperate priest who seeks guidance from a world-weary shaman. No. Not quite. This is the story of a church. A church where all the dark things were allowed to grow strong and full, where one priest in a long line of corrupted men decides to fight his way back out. This is the story of the husk of a man who decides to help his fellows through a belief system only barely emerged from the religious soup that is Paganism, Judeo-Christianity, and Buddhism. Armed with a special form of understanding the world–or perhaps a world that only he sees–and a collection of artifacts he’s collected over his twenty-six years, Soren steps out of mourning and into a war only a very broken, or very brilliant, man could survive.

Those of Salt and Wine, he comes for you a-haunting.

~CHeisserer

Book Review: The City’s Son, Tom Pollock

Pollock recreates Urban Fantasy as a tangible, palpable thing. Forget werewolves. Forget Vampires. The city is alive.

A year ago I decided to take some random blogger’s advice (probably someone very important, but I can’t remember who said it) and take an active effort in getting to know the UF market. I had never shot in the dark before, concerning debut novels, so it’s a pretty big deal I stepped out with Mr. Pollock. (Mr. Pollock, if you ever read this, you’re my first first novel, meaning I bought it entirely on faith.)

I knew the novel before it was published, back when the old cover looked like a Teen Romance between a shirtless character and a fathomless, powerful damsel. Thankfully the cover changed, and is all the more impressive because of it (I believe someone up the pecking order realized this was a special novel, perhaps a cut above the rest, and they wanted the cover to reflect that).

I don’t do “Fanboy” very well: the book either speaks for itself, or it doesn’t, and while I stepped into the novel expecting Young Adult writing, I also expected it to have flair and connect with me, a 20something writer with his own ideas of good writing. This is a coming-of-age novel.

This novel has succeeded in every way the author hoped, and then some. Yes, I hate to say it, but I am, officially, a Pollock fanboy.

Overview (spoilers): Beth is a spunky, rudderless teen with no parental figures and a flair for graffiti. Her best friend snitches on her (through incredible, violent coersion by a teacher) and Beth, betrayed, runs away into the stormy London night. She falls down the metaphoric rabbit hole to find Filius, a boy that literally lives off the city. He’s strong, fast, violent, and animalistic. He destroys an attacking train with a spear, like some incredible phallic symbol, and they trade macho stories about who saved whom. An instant match.

Beth finds out 1) Filius is the son of a goddess, 2) a great evil god is erupting from the city’s construction sites, and 3) Filius is waiting for his mother to return and kick the god’s butt. Beth takes up the fight, gives him a backbone through trust and courage, and he, in turn, believes in her. Rich violence, passion, fighting ensues to carry the momentum of the book through. Not gratuitous; creative violence.

I generally read a novel and search for the areas of insight, of passion on the writer’s part. I look for areas that the writer thought important enough to flesh out thoroughly, and therefore connect to the writer through this format. Where I found the most connection, and perhaps the author’s point of conception, is in this quote:

“Our memories are like a city: we tear some structures down, and we use rubble of the old to raise up new ones. Some memories are bright glass, blindingly beautiful when they catch the sun, but then there are the darker days, when they reflect only the crumblingwalls of their derelict neighbors. Some memories are buried under years of patient construction; their echoing halls may never again be seen or walked down, but still they are the foundations for everything that stands above them.

“Glas [character] told me once that that’s what people are, mostly: memories, the memories in their own heads, and the memories of them in other people’s. And if memroies are like a city, and we are our memories, then we are like cities too. I’ve always taken comfort from that.”

With that quote in mind, all of this work is fleshed out: from Beth’s best friend Parva to descriptions of the fantastical characters and a very real, very lethal evil. I’ve never visited London but I feel it, truly feel it, in this book. Every scene feels alive. Every character feels motivated, special, passionate. In fact, there are so few flat characters (in opposition to round) that I was honestly quite surprised. Everyone finds a voice, and I can’t say anything besides Pollock was inspired by all of it. Not an easy feat. I’m quite impressed.

The sense of loss in this novel is striking for a YA. Very real, very lovable characters die. Innocent characters are tortured. The expanse of emotion in this novel is, well, expansive. I’ve read several reviews on this book, and every one of them said it was too graphic for a YA. I disagree. Too many YA novels are sparse on details, fluffy, and unrealistic. This novel hits hard, hits often, and the promise of death and pain comes with every decision the characters make–as it should.

There is no notion of good vs. evil in this book, and in that point alone, it is a rare gem of writing. Both sides are complex and ultimately self-serving: they want to survive. It’s literally a jungle. (A more appropriate theme would be fight vs. flight: when does one draw a line in the sand to abide another’s survival?)

The philosophy some of these characters have is phenomenal: many Eastern ideas (reincarnation, buddhist beliefs, and especially those surrounding the “evil” Reach, the Crane God) are melded inconspicuously with Greek mythology (Filius is likened to Achilles, a mortal son of a goddess) and, of course, fantasy elements like elementals, primal animals/totems, and metal-scaffolding-molded wolves. I tasted inspiration from Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere throughout, with Pollock’s flair for the light thrown in the mix.

The book never lets up. It builds and flexes, crescendos and crashes and ebbs and flows.

The cons are few and far-between. I wished for consistent narration: switching from third person limited past tense for Beth to first person present tense for Filius created jarring stop-motion for me. Maybe it’s just a personal pet peeve, but I didn’t like its execution. The Lord of the Rings freak in me wanted thousands of unique creatures. I wanted a city teeming. It was filled, yes, but the number of perhiphery creatures/characters were too blurred for my tastes.

Like most writers, myself included, scope is difficult to expand past a certain point, namely when explaining war between two armies. All in all, in the end, the war between Reach and Filius had, give-or-take, around 300 souls on Filius’ side and, if I read it correctly, around 150 on Reach’s side (although Reach’s armies had reconstructing capabilities, so some of them were used repeatedly). For a place as large as London, this war seemed small.

I wanted more involvement from the Mirrors. All I’ll say about that. They seemed to be a clever twist that Pollock didn’t quite know what to do with, even though (or possibly because of) Reach’s compound was wall-to-wall mirrored surfaces. The war could possibly have been won simply by marching the Mirrors on Isengard, I mean, St. Pauls.

In many places this book read almost like a Sci-fi novel: in retrospect, I can’t imagine how it couldn’t, given London is modern and filled with tech. For Pollock to leave that detail out would be to sever one dimension of the story. This isn’t a gripe, moreso a warning. The descriptions can be a little complex.

This is the first book of 3. I can only speculate as to where the next book will take the reader.

Overall I give it a 5 of 5. An incredible debut novel from an incredible writer. I have no doubt he will be around (if he so chooses) in the writing world for a long time to come. My nitpicks are tiny compared to the overall story, and I can’t recommend this book enough.