Thursday, March 8, 2012


Thunderer by Felix Gilman

Awhile back I read The Half-Made World by Gilman and really enjoyed it. What I enjoyed the most about that book was the atmosphere of the world he had created. It was a world still in the process of creation and Gilman's ability to bring that world to life was impressive.

In Thunderer, Gilman's first book, that same world-building creativity is just as apparent. The book takes place primarily in the city of Ararat, an expansive city of seemingly limitless boundaries. It's a city inhabited by both gods and mortals, and the gods who dwell there are constantly leaving their mark on the city by changing its roadways and features.

There are two storylines in Thunderer. One follows Arjun, a young man who travels from his home in Gad to Ararat searching for the god Voice. Voice disappeared from Gad years ago and Arjun believes if he is to be found, his best bet is to look in Ararat.

The second storyline follows Jack. A character very reminiscent of Dickens's Artful Dodger (also named Jack). Jack escapes from a workhouse for children and forms his own band of child thieves and vigilantes whose goal is to empty all the workhouses and gaols in Ararat.

Unfortunately for me, neither one of the storylines grabbed me and sucked me in. They're interesting, and I'd describe the book overall as a very solid offering from a first-time novelist, but there's a noticeable improvement Gilman made by the time he wrote The Half-Made World. I wish Gilman had put the magic that exists in his book more at the forefront of the story rather than leaving it in the background as he did. A good example of what I mean is The Bird. At the beginning of the book a large bird that periodically returns to Ararat and leaves in its wake people with the temporary ability to fly, makes its appearance and is the reason Jack's escape attempt from the workhouse is successful. How or why that power, which usually fades over time, seems to get stronger with time for Jack was never made clear.

The story intrigued me enough, and based on how much I liked A Half-Made World, I'll eventually read his second book, Thunderer's sequel The Gears of the City. 

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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