The Moon King Hardcover – Special Edition, 22 Apr 2014
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An excellent novel that pivots on the politics of change and revolution, while reminding us with a skeleton grin that there is a conservatism behind every action, no matter how anarchic it might appear. Crammed with delightful oddness, The Moon King is shot through with shades of Clive Barker and Tanith Lee, but is all itself, darkling strange, magical, and twisted by shadows and moonlight.
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.
The plot broadly concerns a city to which the seemingly-immortal Moon King has harnessed the Moon - this affects the behaviour of the inhabitants on the lunar cycle, with happy, carefree, somewhat hedonistic traits at full moon being balanced out at the dark days of the new moon, when the citizens find themselves depressed and despairing. Part of the story follows Anton, who we find recovering from a crippling Full Moon hangover only to realise that he has apparently assumed the position of the Moon King, the Lunane. Other storylines weave into Anton's path and intersect, and paint a broader picture of a society having trouble with its own identity. A place of uncontrollable (though totally predictable) moodswings, a place where the status quo might seem better than any possible alternative, where the populace either agitate for total change, or hope for the best based on their current situation. It would sell the book short to imply that it's simply a story of two ways, two choices, light or dark, good or bad, easy or hard - Williamson uses the framework to show us the variety of experience instead of just the extremes.
I won't give away any detail like some of the other reviews but, I will say that you won't ever convince yourself that you know where this book is going. A few chapters in you'll think one thing... Forget that. Half-way you'll think something else... Forget that too. Just settle in, turn the pages, and let the teller tell his tale.
There are social undertones and layers reflecting on our own world and some of you will get them, some will dismiss them, and some of you won't even notice them while you try to keep track of the characters and twists. So, just take what you get from the story. One thing you all will take is a great tale, wonderfully told.
As this lunar body sets it heralds the rise of a stellar talent. Hope the next one is soon, Mr Williamson.
So many lessons apply to us now. Loved every minute