There are some perks to working in a library that stop you in your book-paved tracks and cause a rather serious case of Librarian-Smug-Mode. And when Peter and Emma Newman kindly donated copies of their books to our library it incited a particularly rabid self-satisfied episode. In the stack of brilliance handed to us was a copy of The Deathless… a book that had yet to be released.
As a conscientious employee, I obviously felt it my duty to read The Deathless first... you know, to make sure it was up to par before it hit the shelves. Just kidding! As an avid fan of both Peter and Emma's books, I nearly peed myself with excitement at the prospect of getting to read something before it had gone on general release… even more so now I know how bloody good it is!
If you’re wondering what could possibly make a collected professional turn into a gushing fanatic, here’s the synopsis...
In the endless forests of the Wild, humanity scratches a living by the side of the great Godroads, paths of crystal that provide safe passage and hold back the infernal tide. Creatures lurk within the trees, watching, and plucking those who stray too far from safety.
In crystal castles held aloft on magical currents, seven timeless royal families reign, protecting humanity from the spread of the Wild and its demons. Born and reborn into flawless bodies, the Deathless are as immortal as the precious stones from which they take their names. For generations a fragile balance has held.
And the damned...
House Sapphire, one of the ancient Deathless families, is riven by suspicion and madness. Whole villages are disappearing as the hunting expeditions holding the Wild at bay begin to fail.
Then, when assassins strike, House Sapphire shatters.
Nothing lasts forever.
Anyway, with heartfelt gratitude to Peter for donating his book before release, here is my humble non-spoiler (and probably nonsensical, unsophisticated, and rambling) review…
While I’ve no doubt fantasy readers will devour this book, you don’t have to be an avid lover of fantasy to get lost inside its pages. It really is the epitome of a bloody good read. For a complex and unique world, the story is surprisingly easy to follow. Peter’s prose is immersive and subtly brilliant. The plot centres around four characters: Pari and Vasin, two of the elite Deathless; Chandni, a high mother and bearer of future vessels for the Deathless; and finally… well, I can’t really say who the fourth is without spoiling some of the plot, but like Peter’s previous work, he certainly gives the voiceless a captivating and exciting voice (for those who’ve read the Vagrant series, I’ll concede to say that it’s not a goat!).
The Wild seems to cover the entire landscape, and it is absolutely terrifying. With creatures like the Whispercage and the Scurrying Corpsman hiding in the dark recesses of the forest, there are moments within this book that wouldn’t be misplaced within a horror.
Juxtaposed to the unruly and foreboding Wild are the grand floating castles, where the immortal Deathless reside in a luxurious court-like lifestyle. And when the Deathless put on their crystal suits of armour to go into the Wild and hunt the seemingly demonic creatures, they really do take on a god-like status. But all is not what it seems, as betrayal, assassination, politics, and espionage weave their way throughout the story.
This book is well crafted, unpredictable and layered. I think I seamlessly went through every conceivable emotion reading this. I couldn’t put it down. The characters are so intricate and believable; I adored each and every one for both their witty, wonderful brilliance and perfectly human flaws. I would recommend this to anyone (lover of fantasy or not) and cannot wait to read the next book set within this world.
Don’t believe me? See for yourself and pick up a copy from your local bookstore or online. No need to panic if money is tight, though! You can pop into your local library and borrow one instead (secret tip: if your library doesn’t have it in their catalogue, you can request they get it in). But come to our library, and you’ll be able to read a signed copy!