The Year of Our War (GOLLANCZ S.F.) Hardcover – 15 Apr 2004
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An enjoyable piece of 'weird' fiction (Andrew Osmond DREAMWATCH)
A joy to read, it is bursting at the seams with ideas. The Year of Our War is the first book that makes you believe New Weird actually is a movement, rather than a bunch of books China Miéville likes. A Miéville quote appears prominently on the cover where he describes the book as "thoughtful, exuberant, incredibly inventive, funny but never whimsical or mannered." This is true and it doubles as a kind of manifesto pledge for New Weird (SF Site)
A stunning fantasy, and the most incredible thing about it is that it is a first novel... The setting is impeccably realised, with a deftness of touch and a genius for description which would be impressive in an author of considerably greater experience - of the current crop of British fantasy writers, only China Miéville can touch this level of brilliance. In fifty years time, people are still going to be reading this book and talking about it the way we talk about Gormengast (George Walkley INK MAGAZINE)
The density of Swainston's creation is breathtaking. But Swainston's also a knockout writer for scenes of triumphant action. Having created a world that's almost too complex to comprehend, she's able to unravel scenes of spectacular conflict. From the jaw-dropping opening chapter to the tense and bloody finish, Swainston puts the reader in the picture with a clarity that challenges cinema. (Rick Kleffel TRASHOTRON)
Her descriptive passages are rich and vivid and her characterisation is actually even better; frankly it's superb... Even her dialogue is free-flowing, original, yet natural-sounding; how often do you get that from a debut novelist? As for the protagonist himself: in Jant Shira, Swainston has come upwith one of the most irrepressibly loveable rogues in fantasy fiction, bar none. So, The Year of War has everything, yes? It¿s about as close to a perfect debut as you can get.' (THE ALIEN ONLINE)
Every so often in publishing a buzz develops about a book. The current buzz is most definitely the property of Steph Swainston and her stunning debut novel, The Year of our War. If it has antecedents then they are Angela Carter, Roger Zelazny, M. John Harrison and China Miéville. But while drawing on such illustrious forebears, it is by no means derivative. It is very much its own thing. It has a rare combination of the grim, the bizarre and the hilarious. And somehow it all works. (EMERALD CITY)
The most exciting, original and important new fantasy novel to be published since China Mieville's PERDIDO STREET STATION. A breathtakingly skilful debut.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
She creates a world with mortals and immortals, where the immortals must earn their place by being the best at what they can do: the best swordsman, the best sailor, the best archer. Immortality is betowed upon them by the Emperor San...where he got the ability to do this is one of the mysteries of the series.
Jant Comet is one of the immortals, called the Messenger because of his unique ability to fly. Because he is the Emperor's Messenger, we get to see the politics of the realm, and even see Jant change a few things.
The Emperor's realm is at war with the Insects, who look like bugs many times the size of humans and who build paper nests out of counqueorer lands. Where the Insects have come from is yet another of the mysteries in the book and series.
Jant is an addict to a substance called Cat. Ms. Swainston's portrayl of Jant's addiction, in this book and the next, is dead on...she must have known or studied addicts quite closely.
Jant's addiction gives him entrance into a parallel world, a world he and we the readers are not sure is real until we explore it further. Then it becomes tied in with the Emperor's world and the Insects.
Ms. Swainston mixes political intrigue (immortals battling each other for position; non-immortals vs. the Emperor; mortals vying to become immortals), war (vividly imagines human vs. insect fighting scenes, shades of Stormship Troopers!), addiction and Jant's journey of self-discovery into an excellent fantasy novel.Read more ›
In fact, if anything, this is reminiscent of the steampunk noir of China Mieville. It's much more a novel of character, intrigue and politics than most fantasy. The basic setup places four kingdoms on a moderately-sized island, all four nominally governed by an immortal emperor (and no, we don't know how he got there) who coordinates the fight against the mysterious insects, and his Circle of immortal heroes. The war is starting to go badly - the Insects are on the advance and are gradually turning more and more areas into hive-like Paperlands.
And immortality is a gift - and one that can be taken away. The Immortals are the best people in the Empire at any particular trade or craft or skill that can help repel the Insects - so there's a master archer, sailor, warrior, etc. Nobody's place is secure - anyone can be formally challenged at any time.... you're only immortal until someone better comes along!
We see this novel through the viewpoint of Jant Shira, a halfbreed who is the only person left with the ability to fly. Jant is an outcast, a street kid elevated to immortality in his early 20s who spent his early years involved in drug smuggling, and whose habit still grips hard now he's immortal. Jant is the Emperor's messenger; trusted, known to all, and trying to keep the war against the Insects going in the face of conflict between various mortal lords and kings.Read more ›
Some may feel the storyline jumps in a seemingly irratic manner however once the reader becomes really comfortable embracing the plot, the jumps that at first appear pointless become integral to the story.
This book is quick paced and a complete feast for the mind, a must read for all fantasy fans.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I found this hard to get into -- some really interesting ideas but I just wasn't really drawn in by any of the characters.Published 7 months ago by R Cotterill
Steph Swainston has written an excellent series of books in a fantastical world. Highly enjoyable and in some ways thought provoking, together with some more gritty aspects. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Q. Rayer
I have really enjoyed this series, the concept setting locations and characters combine with some great story telling. Read morePublished on 13 Jan. 2013 by randomshopper
Being an ardent fantasy fan, I was hoping to find a new approach to this genre, something different than elves, kings and magicians. Read morePublished on 27 Aug. 2008 by selana
a fantasy novel. running roughly 370 pages, telling the story of jant. an immortal man. who can fly. Read morePublished on 15 July 2008 by Paul Tapner
Steph Swainston is the author of three books set in the Fourlands, a series she collectively calls The Castle Series. Two more are forthcoming. Read morePublished on 17 Mar. 2008 by A. Whitehead
Having read many different fictions, Fantasy , Sci Fi, Murder mystery amongst others I rarely try to analyse books. Read morePublished on 9 Mar. 2008 by D. Powell
Can't agree with the reviews that say this is great and original. Characters are flat, and only seem different if you've never read other types fiction. Read morePublished on 31 Oct. 2007 by David Martin
Normally I stay well away from fantasy as most is formulaic. This book (and the others in this series) stand head a shoulders above most fantasy writing. Read morePublished on 16 Oct. 2007 by Mr. S. Crook