Bright Ruin, Vic James
Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy
Well, I loved books one and two and was desperate to read this. These characters, this strange UK feels so real. My heart was breaking for those caught up in the Equals power struggle, their determination to keep unSkilled commoners where they feel they belong, serving Equals as slaves for ten years of their lives. There’s a section on Abi’s thoughts that’s so relevant to today’s Real Britain, not just Vic’s fantasy one. It was very resonating to me and I have to quote it.
“ Abi knew many would approve of such expulsions. This narrative fitted into the bigger lie Wittam Jardine was telling the British people. If folk felt poor, it was because of these sponging refugees, not the greed of the Equals. In the same way, those that protested against the slavedays were being cast as the lawbreakers, when it was the days themselves that were unjust.”
We have that same kind of thinking now, and I guess that’s why I was so easy to suck into Vic’s alternative Britain, and why it felt real. I could see events playing out this way, the careful manipulation of facts, the scapegoating, the laying of blame in certain quarters, and the behind the scenes atrocities that the Equals claimed were necessary to keep the peace. Or at least the status quo where the one per cent of the population flourished supported by the 99 per cent unSkilled….
We learned things about a certain character that explained why others had acted in a way that felt unusual, not what they would do willingly. I certainly hadn’t seen that as being the cause!
Jenner, I so liked him in book one, was astonished and heartbroken at his actions in book two, and here we can see his motives.
Gavar, in book one I found him cold to everyone but his daughter Libby, and finally I understood him a little better. I was so sad about Libby’s mum and wondered why he did what he did, finally there’s an explanation for his actions.
Silyen, the enigmatic character, you never really know what he’s thinking, he does things that seem heroic but for completely different reasons than ones we’d think essential, and he treats life and death very lightly. He’s extraordinarily skilled though, incredibly complex and half the time his mind is on other worlds, such as when he was with his aunt in her world while she was comatose.
That other worlds bit comes quite prominent here, and reminded me of another book I read. Annoyingly I can’t recall the title but it involved parallel worlds or dimensions, kind of like a fold in fabric reveals different layers. I got to reading about the whole real theory they could exist, that one centred around tesseract principles but there is a whole scientific ream of thinking that these could exist in many different ways.
We see much more of Abi, Luke and Dog here too and I can’t help having a soft spot for Dog. He’s done some awful things, but had atrocities perpetrated on him.
I felt at times the story got a little battle heavy, not the breathtaking displays, the actual actions but in the endless battle planning, dealing, double dealing and for me that was a bit…dull. ( and I skim read those bits* blush *) Battle planning never is my favoured parts of stories. It didn’t detract from the whole though, and I’m sure there are readers who love all that minute detail.
Its a terrific conclusion, a battle royale, full of surprises at every turn, and an heroic ending. Made me think of just what happens next, how does Britain continue, and what life holds for those we’ve come to know and love ( and hate in the case of some of them!)
That last sentence though, that last tiny action made me so, so happy 😉 for certain characters, I like to think they got a HEA.
Stars:Five, fantastic read, excitement, drama, some breath stealing suspense, that left me floundering to work out just how it could all wrap up. How on earth was Vic going to sort this world out, how could things work out better for the unSkilled, when would all the atrocities end.
I loved the scenes with Luke, Silyen and the King. Oh, and That Kiss, it was a long time coming….
ARC supplied by Netgalley and Publishers
Tarnished City, Vic James
Genre:General Fiction (Adult),Sci Fi & Fantasy
I thought Gilded Cage was incredible but this has that one blown away. Its an incredible read.
I see some reviewers suggest its a YA, but for me its one that would appeal to older teens and anyone upwards. Its pretty dark in parts and there are some graphic murders and accounts here which I think make it unsuitable for the lower end of YA.
I had ideas about certain people after GC, but they’re turned upside down here. New characters come in, secondary ones from GC move up and Silyen – oh I love his character!! So full of mystery and secrets, so talented and very, very, very un-forthcoming. You simply never know what’s in his head, what he’s thinking and whether he sees people as real, as having feelings or just pawns in some secret game he’s playing. He always seems to be ten steps ahead of what’s happening and yet he says he doesn’t make plans….
Abi is keen to free Luke, but how? She needs help so has to plan carefully how to get that.
Luke is desperate to break out of the strange place he’s in, but as with Millwood he wants to learn more about the people here, the reasons why one in particular is treated differently, he seems to have an effect on people, and he’s clearly a key to what Vic has planned for the grand finale.
Well, that’s how it seems to me. All the things that happen to any of the characters have reasons behind them, some not instantly obvious, as in events from GC that now become clearer here. There are murders, revenges, historical grudges, and over it all the Jardine’s grasping for power – or are they?
Some of the Club from Millwood are back here and working hard for freedom, William Jardine is cementing his place in power by reviving some old and horrific customs, controlling what news leaks out and how its presented. We see how easy it is to manipulate a mob, and sadly that part is so very, very realistic.
Gavar is reluctantly being led to the alter by his power hungry bride, who sees him as a stepping stone, while he’s trying to keep his daughter’s place in Society secure, much to the disgust of his father.
Jenner isn’t so prominent here, but still the quite guy from book one, who seems to have strong feelings for Abi, and she’s busy building alliances to free Luke.
Silyen, well I wrote about him earlier, he’s a character that’s fascinated me from the outset. He feels so much older that his years, connected to this world and to others, searching for long forgotten answers.
Within all that maelstrom of events things are changing, key characters die or get killed, people who we thought were one thing turn out to be something else, and one in particular seems to have undergone a huge change in how they feel.
That came as a huge shock to me and I wonder if perhaps things aren’t as they seem? With this story anything seems possible and its a gripping read. and of course ends on a huge cliffhanger!!
Gah, I so need the final book.
I know this is a trilogy I’ll love to reread, back to back to really get the most from the story.
There’s so much I want to say about this story but I don’t want to give away the surprises, shocks and suspense in it. hopefully I’ve got the balance, if anyone feels its too close to what happens please let me know – I’d hate to spoil it for others.
Stars: five, cracking read, totally absorbing and one to get lost in a world of Skill, suspense and subterfuge.
ARC supplied for review purposes by Netgalley and Publishers
Gilded Cage, Vic James
Genre: Sci-fi and Fantasy
Well, I’ve had a fantastic year for debut books. I try to choose all reads carefully as I hate doing low star reviews but debut reads are a shot in the dark, with only a few words to decide wither its for me or no. No previous stories to tell me authors writing style, and the type of plots he/she writes so it really is a whole bran tub surprise, but I’ve unearthed some real gems for me this year. This is one of them.
I’m not really a YA reader, except for those few stories that really are suitable for any age, such as Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy, and the Golden Lily spin off, Twilight ( of course), The Paper Magician trilogy, stories like these that appeal to anyone regardless of age.
A well written story does that, so though YA isn’t my preferred read I don’t rule anything out, especially in the Fantasy genre.
I did find this a little struggling to begin, I was intrigued but the to and fro of Millmoor and Kyneston settings took a while to adjust to, as did the fairly large cast of characters. Then throw in a world that is like the UK now and yet so not like it, that there’s a lot to take in. It works though, really well once I’d got that mentally mapped out.
I’ve read that the 1% v 99% dichotomy inspired this story, the haves and the have nots of money and power. Vic has replaced the money side with Skill, a magical talent. Those families who have it are called Equals, a very small proportion of the population, and they rule the rest.
The rest, the commoners, all have to do a ten year slave term at some point in their life, and families can do it together once the youngest child is 10. That’s what happens here, with eldest sister arranging – she thinks – for them all to do their 10 years at the large estate of Kyneston. That way they can all stay together, stay safe she hopes. But things go wrong, despite being only 16 Luke gets sent to Millmoor alone, separated from the family and against rules which say under 18’s stay with their parents.
Its like now though, a whole way of life ruled by red tape, and underscored by deceitful scheming and grasping for power – gosh you can tell which side I’m on in politics can’t you 😉
The story follows Luke and what happens to him, alternating to what’s going on with the rest of his family and the other inhabitants at Kyneston.
We don’t really see much about Luke’s parents but sisters Abi and Daisy figure largely. Daisy at 10 is a kind of nanny to the Heir’s illegitimate child Libby, and she adores her. Heir Gavar seems to be a strange character, a ball of anger, hates everyone it seems and yet plays the game, wants the power that will come when he succeeds his father and yet is a ball of mush when it comes to Libby and strangely gentle with Daisy.
Jenner, the middle son, is on the almost unique position of having no Skill despite coming from a strongly skilled family. Abi works with him on the admin side of running Kyneston, and we see a slow developing regard for each other growing. Forbidden of course, Equals never get involved with Commoners, its a disaster, as shown by what happened with Libby and her mum. Despite being the only grandchild her place is on sufferance only, and she’s mostly kept out of sight of the other Equals and not really spoken about.
Then there’s Silyen….he is seriously strange and yet – I can’t help feeling a soft spot for him. He’s very solitary, with the constant grasping for power no-one really seems happy, to have friends, to be close to family but he seems even more alone than the others. There’s an air of mystery about him and I feel there’s lots more to come from him.
So, in a society like this, with all its abuses there’s bound to be a revolt. So far the cruel and rigid ways have kept things controlled, but there’s a feeling of change brewing and this book heralds the start. It ends with a real – “I want the next book now, dammit” feeling for me, so I really hope books two and three are progressing well!!
Its an absorbing world, full of magic, full of cruelty, on both large and smnall scales, and the cruelty isn’t just confined to Equals, but also those commoners who’ve risen through the ranks, a -rse kissng their way into positions of power….and yet the characters are not one sided but multi faceted, so no-one is quite what they seem and the fun is working out who is really who, what place they will play in the future, and just how things are going to go, not just on the large scale but on the small one. I’m full of questions, what’s going to happen to Luke, what about Abi, will she and Jenner ever be together, will Gavar marry the fiercely ambitious Bouda as his father commands, or find a way out? What will happen to Libby, and Daisy? What about the dogman, what part is he playing, and the Doc, and Angel, Rennie and the rest of the gang…..and of course the big one. Silyen – what’s he plotting, and is it for good, for bad or just to pass the time? With him you never quite know 😉
Its a fabulous read, if Skill were real as in this book you could imagine that all these things could – and probably would 😦 – happen. A book destined to become a real Classic, a treat to read and I’m rooting for books two and three ASAP.
Stars: Five, a gem of a debut read
ARC supplied by Netgalley and publisher