I’ve had quite a few questions about this, so in case anyone’s wondering what the book is about, here’s a summary (and to be read in a deep Hollywood voice, please):
An ice age comes to a chain of islands.
Villjamur: a city of ancient spires and bridges, where banshees declare the dead. You can see dodgy magic from hidden alleyways where cultists use ancient technology for their own spurious gain. Refugees seeking sanctuary from the weather find the gates closed, and the city’s councilors are the last people you should listen too about the matter. Sometimes you might hear a little jazz from certain quarters. A little further out, the dead are seen shambling across the tundra. Into the city comes a young woman to claim the throne of the Jamur Empire after her father commits suicide. Around her, politicians hover. There are garudas. There are hominid species, the rumel, a tough-skin cousin of man that can live for hundreds of years.
Meanwhile an officer in the city inquisition must solve a high-profile and savage murder of a city politician, whilst battling within his own private and work life. A cocky womanizer cheats his way into the Imperial Residence with a hidden agenda. A once-immortal man, preoccupied with the notion of death, sets a chain of events to unsettle the fabric of this world.
A group of elite soldiers are sent to investigate a bizarre genocide on the northern fringe of the Empire. And in this land under a red sun, it seems the bad weather and ice sheets are bringing more than just snow…
Everyone’s stories are linked, and they all have secrets.
Trust no one in Villjamur.
Oh, and important to credit the artist: Benjamin Carre.
It’s a a dying earth fantasy, which is an excellent vehicle to play with the concepts of death and decay, something which fascinates me. Maybe even a noir fantasy, deeply in the sense of crime noir and film noir, not merely ‘dark’, which I think can be a misleading use of the word in fiction. Although it is certainly dark. I wanted to bend genres around each other, fantasy, crime, horror, even tools and elements of mainstream fiction. Noir in the sense of the dense characters, the subtleness, the erotic, and the strange. There’s someone who’s paranoid about death; a major character is a gay man in a world that forbids homosexual acts; people who are fuck-ups.
There are references to Gene Wolfe, Jack Vance, M John Harrison to name a few; let me know if you can spot them.