A sheer delight...
It is has been a long time since any book gave me cause for hesitation when writing up a review. It isn't so much that there is little to say, rather the extreme reverse: there is so much to say. And distinguishing which elements of the intricately woven plot I should or need to mention here for you to fully grasp and understand the purpose of this new fantasy series is a proverbial minefield. So I shall attempt to summarise this complex opening into something neat and manageable...
This world, this realm, the universe is unlike anything you could possibly imagine. A world full of insect-kind, machinery and weaponry indistinctly archaic and advanced; warring lands full of deceit and treachery, consumptive societies so introverted that they are willingly blinded to the threat at their door and the beetle-kinden, Stenwold Maker, spymaster and Master of the 'Great College'.
The Empire in Black and Gold are the Wasp-kinden, a savagely ambitious race that has grown in the East, taking war and bloodshed to its neighbours and having its sights set firmly on conquering every city and race in its unquenchable lust for power. But with the Lowlands in such internal disarray, and everyone seemingly out for themselves, no one is willing to listen to Stenwold's words of caution. Labelled an alarmist, Stenwold is forced to amass his own army of agents and when the Wasp-kinden finally make their move on the Collegium, he is forced to enlist his most recent students, including his own niece. Enter assassins, gangsters, ruthless Wasp-kinden leaders, brutal skirmishes and all out battle scenes in the fight to save the world as they know it.
Painstakingly written, with depth and purpose, we are shown a world full of cultural conflicts, age-old feuds, the unrelenting turmoil of a world caught between progress and ancient Art and the subtleties of war. Tchaikovsky delivers a master class to any aspiring fantasy novelist.
We interview C J Daugherty about Night School
- 10 January 2012