Good Reading : July 2015
GOODREADINGMAGAZINE.COM.AU GOOD READING JULY 2015 48 The Vagrant Peter Newman The Vagrant will draw you into a world of misery, where a lone, mute man walks, baby in one hand, singing sword in the other. In this dystopian fantasy novel, Peter Newman depicts a land in which the Breach stands opened, releasing demonic forces known as infernals. Beginning eight years after the fall of Gamma – one of the seven powerful beings that govern the world – and her army’s defeat, the taint of the infernal beings has ravished the land. The two strongest demonic power-mongers, the Usurper and the Uncivil, vie for supremacy as the Vagrant treads his way north on heavy feet. His basic goodness forces him to make harsh decisions in a harsh world, helping those he can. Merchants known as Necrotraders take living people to harvest flesh, and desperate men and women try to survive their cruel world. But the Vagrant is forced by the precious objects he carr ies to leave the needy masses in his wake. The cities – from New Horizon to Verdigris, where the Uncivil and the Usurper vie for power – are beautifully macabre and savage. The Vagrant is as brutal as it is addictive. The melding of metal and flesh, of machine and the otherworldly power used by the Seven and the infernals, is masterfully done, particularly in the city of Wonderland. As to the protagonist, a mute main character is a dangerous technique, but Newman weaves his story well, drawing together the strings of flashbacks to explain the Vagrant’s past and bringing in trustworthy side characters to speak for him. These two techniques give the Vagrant a distinct voice that is far greater than the one he lost. ★★★ Voyager $29.99 Reviewed by Stephen Holmes A Fury of Aces 3: Onyx Javelin Steve Wheeler Steve Wheeler launches straight back into the adventures of the celebrity crew of the good ship Basalt as they continue their investigations into the entities known as the Urchins. But the scope of this book broadens dramatically with the introduction of the idyllic world Storfisk, which not only becomes a target for further machinations by the Games Board (who make a fortune streaming videos of organised conflict across the Galaxy) but is also covertly invaded by agents of the mysterious Octopoid race. Tensions ramp up as the planet’s local guardians – both human and ACEs (Artificially Created Entities), which are highly intelligent and weaponised robots in various animal forms – are forbidden from interfering with the Octopoid activities by their masters, the Haulers (a bit like Iain M Banks’s ship minds or even Neal Asher’s semi-benevolent AIs), who definitely have an agenda of their own. The previous books have so far all been fairly self-contained stories but with a huge backstory that is disclosed just a little bit more with each episode. Interestingly though, in contrast with its predecessors, this book introduces several different points of view in parallel timeframes, allowing a slower boil of tension. It also finishes without a neatly wrapped-up ending; the real action is just about to get into full swing as you turn the last page. To paraphrase the book’s content, ‘Let the Games begin’ in the next instalment. ★★★★ Voyager $32.99 Reviewed by Brooke Walker SCI-FI / FANTASY WOM word of mouth RATINGS ★ ★ ★★ ★★ ★★★ ★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★ ★★★★★ RG A Fury of Aces 3: Onyx Javelin Steve Wheeler Sadventures of the celebrity crew of the good ship Basalt investigations into the entities known as the The Vagrant Peter Newman Tmisery, where a lone, mute man walks, baby in one hand, singing sword in the other. In this dystopian fantasy novel, About Steve Wheeler Steve Wheeler’s favourite music to listen to while writing is alternative, trance and rock. But he doesn’t like brass band, rap or country & western.