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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More people need to write fantasy like this lady!
"Have you seen a split cranium, growing flowers like a window box? I saw that, a mere hour ago."

The promise of this little quote atop the blurb was delivered within the pages of KJ Bishop's excellent novel.

It's not a perfect book. I spent the first few chapters wondering where the plot was going - but I was so engrossed in the superbly-drawn world...
Published on 10 Oct 2006 by A. D. MacFarlane

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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting concept, worth reading
The Etched City is difficult to categorise. One first gets the impression of reading a heroic fantasy a la Robert E Howard after which one thinks Mad Max. Think swords, guns and a smattering of sorcery in a brutal, filthy city of corsets and carts.
The book is about Gwynn and Raule, a killer and a doctor unfortunate enough to have been involved in a failed...
Published on 2 Oct 2004 by Tade Thompson


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More people need to write fantasy like this lady!, 10 Oct 2006
By 
A. D. MacFarlane (England, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Etched City (Paperback)
"Have you seen a split cranium, growing flowers like a window box? I saw that, a mere hour ago."

The promise of this little quote atop the blurb was delivered within the pages of KJ Bishop's excellent novel.

It's not a perfect book. I spent the first few chapters wondering where the plot was going - but I was so engrossed in the superbly-drawn world and characters that I didn't really care.

When the plot did emerge, it did so with a dangerous smirk. It begins with Raule, in the desert. She bumps into an old associate, Gwynn, and together they flee the desert and their enemies to the city of Ashamoil. There things get weird. Gywnn is the main character there, though Raule's story continues to be told in the sidelines and intertwines with Gwynn's at times. A gunslinger currently employed as the henchman of a slave trader, Gwynn is surprised to find himself depicted in an etching. He becomes determined to track down the etching's artist and, with the aid of a delightfully trippy scene where he gets high, he finds her. While he becomes closer to the strange artist Beth, his 'career' runs into trouble. It is with Beth, though, that the weirdness happens. It's hard to describe. Think of warped, chimeran dreams brushing against reality, and you're close to the focus of this book.

This is a book I heartily recommend to anyone who is sick of the Tolkien-esque clichés still bouncing around, and who wants to read something dark and weird and wonderful. KJ Bishop is an example of what fantasy writers are capable of when they're not afraid to do something new.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting concept, worth reading, 2 Oct 2004
This review is from: The Etched City (Paperback)
The Etched City is difficult to categorise. One first gets the impression of reading a heroic fantasy a la Robert E Howard after which one thinks Mad Max. Think swords, guns and a smattering of sorcery in a brutal, filthy city of corsets and carts.
The book is about Gwynn and Raule, a killer and a doctor unfortunate enough to have been involved in a failed revolution. Now fugitives from the victors, they escape to the city of Ashamoil where they merge with society.
Gwynn is a paradoxical thug at home both cutting throats and in the theatre, with an unusual amount of good luck. Raule is more like an excavated husk, a good phycisian without a soul. They both decant to opposite ends of the social scale and their acquaintance is uneasy, and often hostile.
The central idea is really interesting, but I can't go into that without spoilers.
The book starts a bit slow, and while it is well worth finishing there are some definite preachy bits I could have done without.
It also delves into the Victorian Era level of technology and sensibilities which has become fashonable these days. At least there are no dirigibles!
I bought this book because of comparisons with the excellent Perdido Street Station by China Mieville but to be honest there is really no comparison.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written fantasy, 6 May 2011
This review is from: The Etched City (Paperback)
I had no expectations coming into this book only that my daughter told me to read it and I'm so glad I did. It was beautifully written and haunting and nothing like the fantasy books I had read before. The story line is a simple one with the two main characters on a parallel journey and only meeting few times along the way, but the story lingers in my mind and the ending is one of those that makes ponder. Very surreal but very wonderful.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Those creative writing exercises really paid off, 20 May 2007
By 
DJS (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Etched City (Paperback)
This whole novel feels a bit like an extended exercise in creative writing. There is no real plot-line running consistently through the whole novel and what we have is various goings-on centred loosely around the same couple of characters rather than a coherent story with a beginning, middle and end. A few of the scenes feel as if they only exist to allow the author to try her hand at writing a night scene, or at describing architecture, or how our feelings for our lovers change over time, or whatever. But despite that, this is a fine first novel and the author shows clear talent and real originality and invention. I look forward to her future books.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book!, 17 July 2014
By 
Simon Smith (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Etched City (Paperback)
Weird. Bizarre. Fantastic - in both senses! What it's about I'm not sure; transformation? morality? theology? Yes.

Actually I don't care. I just really enjoyed reading it. It contains so many delightful touches: the story behind the 30 year tribal war is done beautifully; the flowers on the sheet and the axe; the Arabian western; and so on.

Definitely one to keep and cherish.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best out there!, 19 Mar 2013
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This review is from: The Etched City (Paperback)
This is a must for the sci-fi enthusiasts. The amazing city jungles and convoluted characters are so delicately portrayed that you won't stop reading this until you reach the back cover. What makes it more amazing is that the author actually draws too, and to see, after reading the book, the portray of the main character and find out that beautifully drawn picture in your head has a real-life tween it's just amazing. I really enjoyed the book, it has created a perfect little world I can rover into from time to time.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars plotless, but still good, 15 Sep 2008
By 
mje (northwest england) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Etched City (Paperback)
the etched city is a book almost entirely without plot and there is no connecting thread, character's motivations are often unconvincing. somehow though this is still a great book, the type i could not put down and i finished it in three days. that is due to the superb writing skills of bishop.

fans of china mieville will enjoy this work, inferior though it is, because of gothic grossness that marks both writer's books. the etched city has it all; action, love, gore, intensity and wonderful concepts. the problem is that it's more of an "adventures of" book than anything else. you don't feel that there's any resolution at the end, the lives of the protagonists don't really affect the world they live in much and not even their own lives much either

despite the critism it's still a good read, something light and easy, ideal for when you just want to absorb a book rather than struggling to make sense of it
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars On a par with China Mieville!, 24 May 2006
By 
H. J. Wafi (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Etched City (Paperback)
Fleeing from the Copper Country, a healer and killer arrive at Ashamoil, a tropical city of fighting gangs, death, art and frightening miracles.

It's clearly evident that Bishop is passionate about art, the way she writes about it brings it alive on the page to see, and as she is capable of this she has also brought alive a mysterious and bizzare city that will be cherished by lovers of strange fiction.

I really enjoyed the darkness of this book, the ending was especially good. K J Bishop is not afraid to let her imagination run wild.
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8 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark Fantasy? Bizzare Fantasy Morelike!, 3 Mar 2004
This review is from: The Etched City (Paperback)
Well, 'Etched City'. Telling the tale of two good friends, Raule, a doctor/healer, and Gwynn, a bounty hunter/criminal, as they escape from their homeland of Copper Country, and the Army Of Heroes hunting them down, attempting to seek out new lives and fortunes in the city of Ashamoil, but even stranger things are happening in the city, and the two of them, with their new lives, are going to have to work out what is happening, before it claims them as well.
So, that's the basic story. K.J. Bishop begins with an excellent start, a good introduction to the land it is set in and the main characters; who are themselves well created. The settings; Copper Country, and/or more importantly Ashamoil have a distinct Wild West feel to them, despite the fact it is set in modern times. The locations are well designed, and the reader gets a good idea of the place.
Raule's place of work; Ashamoil's Hospital resembles some sort of early 19th-20th Century building rather than a modern hospital, this influenced by the use of nuns rather than doctors and nurses. Raule is plagued by several strange occurences; a girl gives birth to a baby-headed crocodile is the first of these, a you'll never forget the desciptions of Raule's lab, or Chamber Of Horrors.
Meanwhile, Gwynn joins a very 1960's style mafia family, run by a man named Elm. Gwynn seems a very civil man, until you learn of his past.
The story is one biaazre mix of several themes; characters speak in poetic phrases, animal-human hybrids are born from women, and cults walk the streets while apothcaries sell their poisons. Add to that a alcoholic vicor, strange murders and artwort which comes alive, and you just begin to scratch the surface of
'The Etched City'.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unexpected excellence, 17 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Etched City (Paperback)
I picked this up second hand not having heard of it or the author and have been delighted at the read.

Having read so much of it, I do find a lot of fantasy a bit too familiar, but his book is very unusual and original, although I agree with comparisons given to Chin Meiville's work and also to The Book of the New Sun.

I think the claims that there is no clear plot are off-target - I loved the way that the characters back stories were revealed obiquely and out of order in random recollections and also the way that first person occaionally and unexpectedly shifted from the 90% told from the main characters veiw point.

Only niggle I had at first was too many long and/or obsure words, buit in the end I began to find that endearing and with reference to wikipedia learned a few myself.
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The Etched City
The Etched City by K J Bishop (Paperback - 1 Feb 2003)
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