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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

on 19 March 2013
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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on 15 September 2008
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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on 24 May 2006
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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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 April 2017
I picked this up under the mistaken belief it was by a fantasy author whose other books I'd really liked -- the problem is that person is K. J. Parker, not Bishop... No matter, the jacket text made it sound intriguing enough, so I started reading and was immediately hooked. It drops you in on two masterless mercenaries, one a born killer, and and one a doctor, who are drifting across the barren "Copper Country." With guns and no obvious magic, it really feels more like something from the western genre for large swathes, albeit one that's set in a different time and world. It turns out these two are being hunted by their former foes, and their flight for safety is a gripping adventure.

Their escape leads them to the large city of Ashamoil -- and the whole tone and structure of the book changes, and not for the better. The characters split up, and although we more or less follow what goes on with them, the doctor's story definitely takes a back seat. Although "story" is perhaps not the best word, because once the book moves to the city, plotting is more or less abandoned. Things happen, some of them are dramatic and interesting, others not, but there's no forward momentum, just a sequence of events. What there is dense and heavily ornamented writing that drifts into the phantasmagorical at times, but also into the tedious. The doctor finds meaning in collecting and detailing mutated fetuses, and the killer struggles with existential ennui that eventually has him questioning whether his life is a dream.

If that sounds great, then by all means, check this out. Personally, while I could appreciate the richly imagined setting, and the vivid sights, sounds, and smells, I never cared about either protagonist, and the lack of plot and lack of stakes just left me hungry for something more. I get the comparisons to Mieville, Vandermeer, M. John Harrison, and Leiber, but at the end of the day, I need some storytelling.
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on 10 October 2006
"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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on 2 October 2004
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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on 17 July 2014
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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on 6 May 2011
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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on 20 May 2007
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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on 17 November 2011
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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