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The Moon King by [Williamson, Neil]
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The Moon King Kindle Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Length: 352 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 964 KB
  • Print Length: 352 pages
  • Publisher: NewCon Press (13 April 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00JOHUAOG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #224,721 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I didn't enjoy this as much as Neil's short story collection, as it lacks the lyrical edge that made his writing so compelling in the shorts. However, the ideas are in full force - the world reminds me of China Mieville's New Weird style, tilting over the edge into strangeness but weaving enough human characteristics and reactions in to keep it understandable. The plot is interesting, weaving three different characters into each other, without revealing the connections until towards the end. I loved some of the details - the luck monkeys, Darkday and Full,  the machines and the history. But I wasn't as sucked in as I would have liked to be...a flaw as a reader, rather than the writer, I think. It's certainly a weird, unusual, odd book - and all the better for it.
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Format: Paperback
So I’ve just read Neil Williamson’s debut novel, The Moon King. As quite often happens when I read great stuff I feel under-qualified to comment on it as he is (probably) cleverer than me and (definitely) a better writer than me. But that’s never stopped me before from spouting opinions so what the hell.

There is an island city ruled by immortal benevolent dictator The Lunane. When he founded the city he captured the moon and set it permanently above the city – a symbol of the city’s greatness and of his own power.

As a consequence, the moon is the dominant factor in the life of Glassholm (It’s essentially Glasgow and the Glassholmers are Glaswegians). At full moon, everybody is happy and Glassholm is one big party; as the moon wanes architecture crumbles, mechanical things fail and the mood of the populace sinks until at full dark all the lights go out and there is depression and violence.

This is how things have been for centuries, but suddenly things start to go awry: there is a murder at full; the luck monkeys deliver only bad luck; children made of water haunt the city, and the moon’s behaviour no longer correlates with the palace mathematicians’ calculations.

I won’t go into any more details of the story because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone intending to read the book. And everyone should read this book. It’s a rip-roaring adventure, a pacy crime thriller, an inventive alternate reality fantasy, and most of all a modern fable. The prose is sweet enough to be almost invisible and the characters all genuinely breathe.

All of that is enough to make it a worthwhile read, but where it gets really interesting, and where this reviewer starts to feel out of his depth, is in the subtext.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An exceptional read that didn't disappoint. A carefully constructed world that engaged me from the first chapter and held my attention until the final pages, featuring a core of characters that I believed, even in their unusual setting. "The Moon King" didn't easily slot into an specifically definable genre, with the core fantasy concept very subtly underlying a storyline that felt in places more like a crime novel. Sometimes when I read fantasy, depending on the "depth" of it, if you will, I almost forget the unusual setting and concentrate solely on the people - Terry Pratchett's Discworld books are a good example of what I mean."The Moon King" never really let me totally forget the world - the setting, the world, all of it was intrinsically linked to the people who lived the story. In that sense, it was far more reminiscent of China Mieville's "Railsea", or something by K.J. Parker - a story that lives inside a particular setting and seems almost more precious and engaging because of it.

The unexpected familiarity of Williamson's style was a pleasure, helped immeasurably by the little delights of finding an occasional Scottish turn of phrase peppering a character's speech. It gave me a queer sort of pride, like seeing your hometown as the setting for a film, but it was neither overused nor gratuitous - if anything, I'd expect that anyone who couldn't glean the meaning of a word as juicy as "wersh" from the surrounding context would probably head to Google and emerge richer having searched it out.
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Format: Paperback
Back in 2010, in my review of Tim Powers stunning espionage novel 'Declare', I said that -

"For me the best writers are the ones who mix it up: who wants 'a' horror novel, or 'a' science fiction novel, or 'a' crime novel? Nah, let's just throw a bunch of stuff in a pot and see what comes out. And some of the results in recent years have been fantastic, from Neal Stephenson's 'Baroque Cycle' (a HUGE historical fantasy/alternate history grand slam) to Charles Stross's giddy 'Laundry files' (a supernatural detective science fiction series). People like Dan Simmons and Joe R. Lansdale and China Mieville -"

- and now Neil Williamson.

In fact, many writers now are blissfully ignoring genre definitions to create something China Mieville termed New Weird. Indeed last year, on the Strange Horizons review website, Martin Lewis commented that it "now seems all the best new writers take this hybridity for granted. Quietly, without any fuss, the New Weird has won."

But, you know, it doesn't matter what you call it: nominally, the publisher of 'The Moon King' has classified it as fantasy. It's speculative fiction, it is the fantastique; it's what great writers want it to be. The upshot of all this genre shuffling is that readers are reaping the rewards with some terrifically entertaining and inventive novels.

Although this is his debut novel, Williamson has previously been nominated for a British Fantasy Award for his short story collection 'The Ephemera' (currently available as a eBook) and a World Fantasy Award nomination for the anthology 'Nova Scotia' he co-edited with Andrew Wilson.

And this debut is frankly so good that nominations for best novel in next year's award lists is almost a given.
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