‘The Bastard Wonderland’ fulfils its title. Is it SteamPunk? Fantasy? Alternative History? Like its self-feeding airships, it hovers of all. Most of its sustenance, though, comes from the grittiness of real life seen in fading black & white photos of our touchable history, where workers can be turned into conscripts and citizens into collateral damage in the blink of an eye or the sweep of a pen. The forest-dwelling keepers of the Datyas hardly get a better press.
This is a novel about rising above the miasma, about self-hope and finding a meaning to one’s life and the lives of others, conveyed with a dry humour and a bawdy banter befitting the characters and their world. Highly recommended.
Warboys spent most of his young life working on the ships, getting a chartership, is too much like hard work so he gets by without one until the night their king abdicated and the country was under Martial law. Wanting to unite the whole continent, General Malvy takes over the running of the country and brings in conscription. Not wanting to fight, Warboys tries to go on the run and with his dad Bill find a flying machine. Unfortunately, they did not get very far and end up getting caught, however this just the start of an epic adventure, an adventure that finds Warboys up against an ancient cult, slave masters and living flying machines. Warboys was a loveable rogue who at the beginning was only looking out for number one, but as his adventure continues his caring nature starts to come out especially towards Nouzi Aaranya. Spending the time with his dad had a good effect on him and he starts to mature, the father/son relationship at times was comical and they did have a Steptoe and son feel about them. One scene in particular was when they were discussing take-aways and invented fish, chips and mushy peas. From the 1st word you are transported into a perilous journey, be it marching through a desolate countryside or drinking and fighting at Junkers the scrapyard. This book had it all, action, comedy and adventure, with a mixture of steampunk, fantasy and sci-fi this should please a lot of readers. I was surprised to find out that this was the author’s first novel and this was so well written. The ending was gripping and does give scope for further adventures for Warboys. I for one hope that there will more books for me to read.
If you want a fantasy novel that eschews the standard elves and goblin cliches and instead offers something far richer (and often far darker) then this could be the book for you. There are no heroes in the Bastard Wonderland, just ordinary folk who just want nothing more than to survive the day. The Bastard Wonderland shows a rapidly changing world from the viewpoint of a directionless nobody, a man stuck in a rut who has his life changed by a chance encounter with a foreigner who has nothing in his life other than a seemingly unshakeable purpose. With a wealth of interesting characters and story arcs this really is worth picking up.
A good solid SFF book based around the life 30odd year old waster who's poor choices lead him (literally) into conflict with his father and eventually force him to grow up and take responsibility. Based on an alternate reality it borrows heavily from British, US and Russian history from the last 3 centuries and blends them together in a bizarre new way. While the story focuses more on the characters than the world around them you do find yourself caught up and becoming interested in the politics and the people. As I said in the headline, it's different from the usual fare. I'll be keeping an eye out for his next book.
This is fantasy as it should be, pushing new boundaries, ticking new boxes, down and earthy characters and nothing to do with kings and quests and chosen ones. Lee Harrison should be being championed as new voice of the genre. Funniest fantasy since Pratchett as well. if you haven't read already you're in for a right treat
Yes, it's quite sweary but you (and your Aunt) appreciate earthy fantasy fiction with vivid characters and a compelling plot, right? Despite being a first novel, the author has already found a special narrative voice which sets this book apart from the rank and file of the genre. Every chapter is full of well-turned phrases which make you laugh or think or even both. I'm looking forward to finding out more about this world and these people.
The best story I have read since Ready Player One - set in a fascinating and complex world that is both intriguing new and yet at times strangely familiar. The characters are engaging if not always admirable and following their story will get you pondering the nature of family, fate, honour and self-determination. The plot twists and turns and is prepared to take the unexpected path and humour shines with a love of the Northern and commonplace (though the language is a little strong at times) . This book has left me with visions of a rich and interesting alternative world and wondering where these characters went next - fingers crossed for a sequel!