Friday, 18 May 2007
'Hinterland' - James Clemens
This is the second book in Clemens’ ‘Godslayer’ series and I haven’t read the first… Luckily this doesn’t matter too much as Clemens hearkens back to the events of the first book throughout the novel, meaning that the casual reader can catch up quite quickly. Tylar Noche is a Shadowknight once again but his reinstatement ceremony quickly becomes a trap as Naethyn forces mount a deadly siege on the citadel. Things are no safer inside as infiltration by the Cabal means that no one can really be trusted. Tylar and his freinds must escape the siege and then find a way to break it from outside…
On the face of it, ‘Hinterland’ looks to be a continuation of a promising new series. There’s plenty of action, strange new races and labyrinthine intrigue (spanning hundreds of years) keeps the reader guessing what will happen next. All the characters are well rounded although it is only the lesser characters that the reader can empathise with (Brant and Laurelle being good examples).
I did find fault with the book but this was mainly due to my own tastes rather than flaws in the book itself. The main problem I had was that Clemens ‘info-dumped’ far too frequently regarding the Gods and their Graces and this interrupted the flow of the story. With this being a series, perhaps the ‘info-dumps’ could have been spread out over more than one book, it’s a lot for the reader to take in at once and it detracted from the story. ‘Hinterland’ is set in a fantasy world that is just beginning to embrace industrial age style technology. The only author I’ve seen tackle this theme with any degree of credibility is China Mieville in his New Crobuzon books, Clemens shows signs of promise but (for me) the ‘Magic/Machinery’ still tipped too far towards magic to make the technology plausible. Finally, one of my pet hates in fantasy literature is ‘made up swear words’. As far as I’m concerned you either use swear words (and get on with it) or find an appropriately medieval way of having a good old-fashioned curse. What you don’t do is use a blatantly made up word that sticks out like a sore thumb and jars the reader’s attention away from your tale. Clemens is guilty as charged…
It was an entertaining read overall but just not to my taste. Fans of James Clemens will enjoy this and any fantasy fan should certainly give it a look.
Seven and a Half out of Ten