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Kuolemattomien kaarti (2004)

– tekijä: Steph Swainston

Muut tekijät: Katso muut tekijät -osio.

Sarjat: Nelimaa (1), Story of the Fourlands (1)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
5831831,442 (3.63)23
A superb work of literary fantasy. In a truly original imagined world of breathtaking, sometimes surreal, beauty, fifty utterly alien but disarmingly human immortals lead mankind in a centuries-long war. Jant is the Messenger, one of The Circle, a cadre of fifty immortals who serve the Emperor, and the only immortal - indeed the only man alive - who can fly. The Emperor is seeking to protect mankind from the hordes of giant insects who have plagued the land for centuries, overwhelming towns with their beautiful nests, eating everything and everyone in their path. But he must also contend with the rivalries and petty squabblings of his chosen immortals. These are squabbles that will soon spill over into open civil war. Steph Swainston has written an astonishingly original literary fantasy. She writes beautifully. Her novel places her in a tradition of writing typified by Mervyn Peake, M. John Harrison and, latterly, China Mieville. This is a breathtaking debut novel of the finest quality.… (lisätietoja)
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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 18) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
A flying man arrives in a town, buys a newspaper and turns to read about the King's most recent press conference. This is certainly not your usual fantasy novel. Jant, the flying man referred to, is one of the Circle of Immortals, a cadre of some fifty individuals, each with a skill or special ability that the equally immortal Emperor keeps by him to run the Fourlands in the absence of an (unspecified) god who created the world and then went away. The Immortals are not born immortal; immortality is bestowed upon them when they join the Circle; it can be taken away from them if any one of them upsets the Emperor, and the Immortals are not invulnerable.

Jant is the Emperor's Messenger, and he has a Circle name, Comet. All the Immortals have their Circle name; these names serve as an official identity and also as a job title. Although one of the races of the Fourlands, the Awia, have vestigial wings, hollow bones and fast metabolisms that suggest that they ought to be able to fly, only Jant actually can. He also has a drug problem, which is described in some graphic detail. But this is not gratuitous awfulness; a heavy dose of his drug of choice can propel him into another world, which is weird, sometimes horribly surreal, but which has a physical reality of its own and which comes to play an important part in the events of the novel.

The Fourlands are besieged by large, beetle-like Insects, against whom the Circle have waged war seemingly without end.. As the novel opens, Insect attacks are growing in intensity and frequency and no-one knows why. Things get complicated when various members of the Circle begin falling out with each other - after all, after between 500 and 1000 years of working together, you might just begin to detest the sight of your colleagues. Jant finds himself at the centre of these disputes and of the war, all the time trying to be a fair go-between for the Emperor, various mortal monarchs and the other members of the Circle. No wonder he took to drugs, you might think.

Jant is far from likeable; but he is a complex character, and not without wit. But he is definitely flawed, and those who like to empathise with their main protagonists will probably react against Jant, his excesses and his addictions.

The world-building is interesting. Fourlands is at tines a modern society; people wear T-shirts, run marathons, measure distances using the metric system, tell the time with a twenty-four hour clock and have a seven-day week that starts on Monday and ends on Sunday. Technology is roughly late Georgian/early Victorian level; there is industry and steelworks and (water-powered) trams and sticky tape; and although there are some things that are inexplicable, and others that are just not explained, there is no highly overt magic as such. I've seen this described as a parallel reality; I tend to visualise this sort of thing as suggesting some sort of far future, lost colony sort of setting, because so many of these things are cultural indicators that a wholly different and separate culture would not have. But I enjoyed it immensely, possibly because of all these contemporary vibes elbowing their way in.

The language is also contemporary; and what with the scenes of graphic drug abuse and some equally graphic sex of dubious consensuality, some readers will not take kindly to this book. But it is no identikit fantasy. The plot gets a bit bogged down in the middle as Jant uncovers the extent and effect of the bickering within the Circle, but once a few heads get knocked together, things move on in interesting ways. Combat is described in some degree of detail, but without gratuitousness. The Insects are truly implacable and their motives unknowable.

To sum up: an unusual fantasy unlike any that you may have read before. There is enough to intrigue if the protagonist's shortcomings don't actually repel you. ( )
2 ääni RobertDay | Oct 21, 2019 |
This book came highly recommended to me by a friend, AND it had a blurb from China Mieville on the front cover. So I fully expected to love it.
But - I just couldn't get into it.
I suspect that the aspects of the book that many readers interpreted as 'highly original' and 'weird' I just saw as poorly delineated usual fantasy.
It took a long time to be told who the characters are, where they are, what's going on, what their motivations are... and I didn't really see a point, narrative-wise, to be so cagey about everything. As a reader, it just made me feel distanced from the story.

Basically, Jant is a half-breed immortal, one of an elite military cadre, and the only individual who can fly, in a world that is desperately battling a plaque of giant insects. (That is, when they're not engaging in petty intrigue and bickering.) He's also a drug addict, which everyone around him regard as a failing - but it may be that the place his consciousness goes when he seems to be in a drug hallucination is an actual alternate world - and this may hold the key to defeating the bugs.

I thought that the world and the story had a lot of potential, but it felt like a first novel to me. (I also really disliked the drug-hallucination world, and its dependence on bad puns to distinguish it from the 'regular' world.) And apparently, the author has now given up on writing, with some bitter, grumpy public announcements of such... so I don't think I'll continue with the series. (It is a 4-book series, and this one ends at a cliffhanger point.) ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
The premise seemed quite good, and I'm sure that's what pulled me toward it in the first place, but the execution terrible. I couldn't really keep up with the plot and found all the characters to be two-dimensional and quite difficult to get to know. They were just names on a page. I also didn't like the odd, blasè way the protagonist's drug addiction was handled. He took drugs, spaced out for about five minutes and then was absolutely fine and could have conversations straight after? The drug abuse was probably the most interesting aspect of it: especially since it was in first person narrative, but the author clearly has no idea what drugs actually do to you. ( )
  Xleptodactylous | Apr 7, 2015 |
The Year of Our War is the first novel by Steph Swainston and the first book in the Fourlands Series.

Plot:
The Fourlands are at war with the (man-sized) Insects that threaten to overrun the entire kingdom. King Dunlin leads the attacks, supported and advised by the Emperor and his group of 50 Immortals, all the best in their respective fields. One of said Immortals is Jant, the messenger – a position he has because his father was Awian and his mother Rhydanne, which gives him wings and a light enough frame to actually fly, the only person to be able to. But by now, it is the only reason he still has the position as he is also incredibly self-centered and addicted to the drug cat and the Shift to another world that comes with it. As things become worse, Jant will have to make some choices.

The Year of Our War is very much unlike any fantasy novel I read so far and I really, really loved it, despite the fact that it took me a while to get into it.

Read more on my blog: http://kalafudra.com/2014/10/14/the-year-of-our-war-steph-swainston/ ( )
  kalafudra | Jan 26, 2015 |
Reviews only the 1st book

A world with a Circle of immortals protecting the inhabitants from the Insects until God returns. An immortal messenger who’s drug takes him into another world where the boundaries are thin and where the answer to the Insects may lie..

For some reason I never connected with the author, everything seemed washed out and pale. I couldn’t seem to immerse myself in the world, root for the characters or engage in the plot. I couldn’t visualise or taste it and I didn’t care.

The plot seemed a thin delicate thing and not really the main show (although what the main show was I don’t know) but the pacing was off as insects overwhelm the world and then the circle falls to rather uninteresting infighting. The characters were universally flawed, not very fleshed out and too few. Although I did like the protagonist for being endearingly awful but he was far too reactive to carry what was lacking in the rest of it. As to the world, well the City our addict goes to is tantalisingly interesting but sadly it was also fleeting and I would have thought the setup of immortals could be good (they each have a purpose) but it was barely explored.

I guess the 1st in the trilogy is saddled with setting up plot and characters for the whole book but it has to hold some enticing promise of reward as well as being a great plot within itself and this did neither. I am mildy tempted to try the 2nd book out but really I don’t think I ever will.

Not recommended. ( )
  clfisha | Jun 8, 2012 |
Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 18) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
ei arvosteluja | lisää arvostelu

» Lisää muita tekijöitä (5 mahdollista)

Tekijän nimiRooliTekijän tyyppiKoskeeko teosta?Tila
Steph Swainstonensisijainen tekijäkaikki painoksetlaskettu
Miller, EdwardKansikuvataiteilijamuu tekijäeräät painoksetvahvistettu
Sinun täytyy kirjautua sisään voidaksesi muokata Yhteistä tietoa
Katso lisäohjeita Common Knowledge -sivuilta (englanniksi).
Kanoninen teoksen nimi
Alkuteoksen nimi
Teoksen muut nimet
Alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi
Henkilöt/hahmot
Tiedot englanninkielisestä Yhteisestä tiedosta. Muokkaa kotoistaaksesi se omalle kielellesi.
Tärkeät paikat
Tärkeät tapahtumat
Kirjaan liittyvät elokuvat
Palkinnot ja kunnianosoitukset
Tiedot englanninkielisestä Yhteisestä tiedosta. Muokkaa kotoistaaksesi se omalle kielellesi.
Epigrafi (motto tai mietelause kirjan alussa)
Tiedot englanninkielisestä Yhteisestä tiedosta. Muokkaa kotoistaaksesi se omalle kielellesi.
'Unnatural vices are fathered by our heroism.' - T. S. Eliot
Omistuskirjoitus
Tiedot englanninkielisestä Yhteisestä tiedosta. Muokkaa kotoistaaksesi se omalle kielellesi.
To Brian
Ensimmäiset sanat
Tiedot englanninkielisestä Yhteisestä tiedosta. Muokkaa kotoistaaksesi se omalle kielellesi.
As soon as I arrived in Lowespass I bought a newspaper and read it in the shadow of the fortress wall -
Castle Calls for Reinforcements -

Rachiswater Offensive Continues

Sitaatit
Viimeiset sanat
Tiedot englanninkielisestä Yhteisestä tiedosta. Muokkaa kotoistaaksesi se omalle kielellesi.
(Napsauta nähdäksesi. Varoitus: voi sisältää juonipaljastuksia)
Erotteluhuomautus
Julkaisutoimittajat
Kirjan kehujat
Alkuteoksen kieli
Kanoninen DDC/MDS
Kanoninen LCC

Viittaukset tähän teokseen muissa lähteissä.

Englanninkielinen Wikipedia (2)

A superb work of literary fantasy. In a truly original imagined world of breathtaking, sometimes surreal, beauty, fifty utterly alien but disarmingly human immortals lead mankind in a centuries-long war. Jant is the Messenger, one of The Circle, a cadre of fifty immortals who serve the Emperor, and the only immortal - indeed the only man alive - who can fly. The Emperor is seeking to protect mankind from the hordes of giant insects who have plagued the land for centuries, overwhelming towns with their beautiful nests, eating everything and everyone in their path. But he must also contend with the rivalries and petty squabblings of his chosen immortals. These are squabbles that will soon spill over into open civil war. Steph Swainston has written an astonishingly original literary fantasy. She writes beautifully. Her novel places her in a tradition of writing typified by Mervyn Peake, M. John Harrison and, latterly, China Mieville. This is a breathtaking debut novel of the finest quality.

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