The Modern World

A catch-up post for the books I’ve read since I last updated.

The first of these is Steph Swainston’s The Modern World (titled Dangerous Offspring in the US), third of her “Castle” series of novels. In this volume, the immortal Circle face their biggest threat so far when a new kind of Insect emerges from the Paperlands, and they must find a way to face it before the Fourlands are overrun. It’s also about the struggle between the Archer, Lightning, and his rebellious teenage daughter Cyan; both of these storylines lend into a more general theme, one of the passing on of one generation to make way for the next. Progress requires that the old step aside and allow the young to take over, and lead the way into a modern world. In a way all three books have held this theme–the point of view character, Jant Comet Shira, was the youngest of the immortals in The Year of Our War; the second book, No Present Like Time, begins with the replacement of the Swordsman by the young challenger Wrenn.
As usual Swainston provides us with a wide array of fantastical imagery, from the obligatory tour of the Shift early in the novel to the emergence of the Insect larvae later in the story, all narrated to us in the familiar style of Comet, winged (former) junkie (former) streetkid and probably Swainston’s best creation. Swainston’s books are highly enjoyable reads, and this one is probably her best to date.

[Buy this book from Amazon: UK, US]

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