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No Present Like Time (GOLLANCZ S.F.) [Hardcover]

Steph Swainston
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
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Book Description

21 April 2005 GOLLANCZ S.F.

Another year in mankind's war for survival against the insects. God is still on holiday, the Emperor still leads and his cadre of immortals are still quarreling amongst themselves.

It is known that the insects are reaching the Fourlands from the Shift but now mankind just has to do something about it. And in the meantime attention shifts to new lands and a naval expedition is launched.

And Jant, the Emperor's drug-addicted winged messanger is expected to join it. Just perfect for a man terrified of ships and the sea.

Steph Swainston's trilogy is building to be a landmark of modern fantasy. This is a wildly imaginative, witty yet profound fantasy, peopled with bizarre yet real characters.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; 1st ed edition (21 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575070064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575070066
  • Product Dimensions: 3.1 x 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,559,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A more original sort of fantasy. (Roz Kaveney TIME OUT)

For my money Swainston is one of the best British authors writing in any genre. She has a facility with language and a genius for plot and character which Booker prize winners could, and should, be envious of. The Hobbs, Brookses and Feists of this world may well outsell it, but this will be the outstanding fantasy book of the year by a country mile (Publishing News)

An uncompromisingly classy act. (THE GUARDIAN)

¿NO PRESENT LIKE TIME is a welcome return to the world Swainston put on paper so delectably first time round. Whereas THE YEAR OF OUR WAR centred on ¿ you guessed it ¿ a war, NO PRESENT LIKE TIME has more of a political edge, embossed with flawless, deep characterization. (This is) an extremely unusual, familiar yet at the same time extraordinarily original novel. There¿s joy to discover on every page, even if that page does involve some poor fool getting his read ripped off¿ (Jayne Dearsley SFX)

"Once again, Steph Swainston has created a remarkable work of fantasy, both refreshing and enjoyable. It is great to see such a revitalisation of the genre with brilliant new authors like her leading the way." (OUTLAND)

Book Description

The sequel to the most important debut fantasy of the last ten years.

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First Sentence
On this soft night I followed the Moren River valley, flying back to the Castle, hearing the chimes of clock towers in the Plainslands villages as I passed high above. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Charming and slightly weird 8 July 2005
By Sarah
I bought this book fairly soon after publication because I really liked its prequel, Year Of Our War, but felt that it ended a bit suddenly. But No Present Like Time takes the brave stance of deepening rather than answering the questions of Year of Our War. Of course, this also makes it perfectly easy to read if you've not read the prequel.
It picks up 5 years after the close of Year Of Our War, and the central plot focuses upon an expedition to a newly discovered island off the western coast. The ambiguous quality of the Emperor San and his immortal Circle - yes, some people do get to become immortal, but the remaining mortals are ruled fairly brutally - is developed here through a somewhat obvious contrast with the democratically-inclined and peaceful islanders. Having said that, I love the main character, Comet Jant Shira, an immortal with the ability to fly who remains throughout this book an endearing loser struggling to cope with an errant wife and a serious addiction problem. There's also a sweet plot involving the challenge of a mortal to replace the Immortal swordsman in the Circle.
What I liked about this book was the shifting, uncertain backdrop and the deeply realistic characterisation. Swainston has created a world in which not only the physical realities but also the spiritual assumptions made by the characters are fluid and indeterminate. It's strangely not-like other fantasy I've read. I'd highly recommend it if you prefer to focus on character over plot, and if you're not likely to be put off by some deeply dreamlike sequences (cars made out of flesh, anyone?). Like its prequel, this is a strange and complex book, and, like its prequel, I thought it was lovely.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm glad there was a second book!, 12 Nov 2006
I read "The Year of Our War", the first book in this series, and I was fascinated by the imagination of Ms. Swainston. Creating a world with immortals, insects and such a vast history, with parallel but connected universe(s) as well.

I was unaware that there would be a second book. I am glad I found it. I understand book 3 is in the works and look forward to it.

The second book follows the immortals, specifically Jant Comet the Messenger, to new worlds and old parallel ones. The character development, especially of Jant and Lightning, continue to develop in this installment, as Jant battles doubts about himself and his addiction, doubts about the immortals, and physical enemies both human and non. More of Jant and Lightnings pasts are revealed, as are some of the Emperors past. New areas of the physical world are discovered, and new parts of the parallel worlds with new allies and foes are presented as well.

The conclusion leaves open many angles for the third book, including the return of God who created the immortals, more invasions by the insects and other possible parallel world bleed overs.

This is not your average fantasy. It reads well and quickly, opens the readers imagination, and challenges them to keep up with the leaps. I eagerly await more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More of the same 27 Oct 2007
As The Year Of Our War. More wandering narrative from the 'hero' Jant, more plot threads, more excellent writing in what looks like becoming something of a ground breaking fantasy series.

This is at least as good as the first book if not better. Swainston takes no prisoners, she gives nothing away, and you have to read and pay attention to everything, because sooner or later what was apparently pointless background makes sense of the present narrative. For me at least the book manages a near perfect balance between action, characterisation and description. There's always something interesting going on, and the blend between things we're familiar with from our world and the outright fantasy elements is handled with ease.

Read The Year Of Our War first, if you don't, you'll miss out on the motivation of a lot of the leading characters. Unlike many authors Swainston doesn't organise events to help out new readers by having characters regurgitate events from an earlier volume.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very fine sequel 13 May 2008
The writer can purportedly be gauged more by the sequel than the original. If this is true of No Present Like Time then Steph has shown herself to be a writer of inimitable talent. The amount of questions left open in the first could so easily have been a drowning point, overly laboured, in NPLT and yet the finesse in which the colourful plot is woven, whilst showing further tantalising glimpses of the main characters and their often sordid pasts, slots so neatly into the overall story that it's barely noticed and further enhances the read. To my mind a good book should leave you wanting more and this can be achieved by leaving questions unanswered which is artfully done here whilst closing some others left open from The Year Of Our War. New characters, new lands, new and different battles. A superb job yet again!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Charming second book in the Fourlands 18 July 2008
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
While the first book "The Year of Our War" ended too suddenly, this second novel seems to have difficulty in finding a focus. There are some strong threads throughout the book, but it's a bit rambling.

However, this isn't a bad thing. There's charm in a book which doesn't oversimplify everything and all events told are well written.

The novel's characters are what really brings this 'fantasy' novel to life and it'll appeal to a much wider range of readers than most books in this genre.

Well worth a read and I'm looking forward to seeing what else Steph Swainston writes.
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