Synopses & Reviews
Unique among his fellow immortals and mortal folk alike, Jant Comet can fly. His talent is a gift and a curse that has earned him a place in the Castle Circle as Messenger to the Emperor San -- soaring high and free above the bloody battlefields of his world, carrying word back to his master of progress and regress in the ever-escalating conflict between man and the awful armies of giant, flesh-devouring insects.
But while Jant's duty is to remain neutral in the petty squabbles and power plays of the fifty who will neither age nor die naturally, bitter rivalries that have festered for centuries now threaten to incite a savage civil war. And Jant may be the only being alive capable of stemming the onrushing tide of destruction and the unstoppable insect infestation. For only he can gain entrance -- through extreme doses of the narcotic that owns his soul -- into a place of darkest wonders and revelations; a strange and horrific alternate reality that none but Jant Comet believes exists.
A literary triumph of the first water -- bold, stylish, and breathtakingly original -- Steph Swainston's The Year of Our War ascends like a rocket to the upper reaches of the imagination and loudly heralds the arrival of a true modern master of the fantastic.
"In British author Swainston's first novel, a well-written, if occasionally uneven, fantasy, three humanoid species coexist successfully in a medieval world under the rule of a benevolent, immortal emperor, supported by a circle of 50 immortal warriors. For many centuries, however, this civilization has been under attack by Insects, monstrous creatures who convert everything they conquer into the Paperlands, endless wastelands of bizarre white walls and tunnels. Now one of the immortals, Jant the Messenger, addicted to the hallucinatory drug called cat, which allows him access to an alternate universe, has discovered the Insects' secret. Despite his debilitating addiction, Jant must find a way to preserve his world against the monsters' increasing onslaught. Numerous bloody battles keep the action moving, and Swainston has a powerful sense of the surreal, but her domestic scenes tend to drag and verge on soap opera. Jant is an engaging antihero, though most of the other characters are fairly flat. This off-beat fantasy should appeal to fans of China Miville's fiction as well as to those who remember Roger Zelazny's Amber series with fondness. Agents, Mic Cheetham and Simon Kavanaugh. (Feb.) Forecast: Blurbs from China Miville, M. John Harrison and other important genre authors will give a boost to this British import." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“Thoughtful, exuberant, incredibly inventive, funny but never whimsical or mannered: a blistering debut, and honest-to-God unputdownable.” China Miéville, author of Perdido Street Station
“Vibrant, colourful, tirelessly inventive and effortlessly weird, Stephanie Swainston has thrown the map away.” M. John Harrison
“Swainstons first novel brings a bold new vision to the fantasy genre, combining classic fantasy elements with imaginative new images.” Library Journal
“Extraordinary…stunning…compelling…seriously new. … Swainst has considerably vivid powers of invention.” Locus
About the Author
Steph Swainston is a qualified archaeologist with a degree from Cambridge and a research degree. She worked as archaeologist for six years, working on the dig that researched the oldest recorded burial site in the UK, before working as an information scientist. Now at work on her second novel, following The Year of Our War, she lives in England.