Series: Legends of the Duskwalker | Genre: SF, dystopian | Publisher: Angry Robot | Edition: ARC (print) | Publication date(s): US & ebook – 30th July; UK & RoW – 1st August | My rating: 5/5
The world has collapsed, and there are no heroes any more. But when a lone gunman reluctantly accepts the mantle of protector to a young boy and his dying mother against the forces that pursue them, a hero may yet arise.
First off, I know what you may well be thinking. That synopsis a) doesn’t tell us very much, and b) very possibly sounds just a tiny bit Generic Adventure … Well, I can’t argue that. What I can argue is that this book should absolutely NOT be taken at that face value. I must admit, though, I’ve been wondering – especially now, after having read it – what exactly it was that drew me to this book when I could very easily have dismissed it. I suspect that, while the approach might be hit-and-miss, this cover and synopsis was pretty cleverly done. There’s something undeniably atmospheric about the cover image (the work of one Stephen Meyer-Rassow, for the curious) and the synopsis, while it definitely doesn’t tell us much, also (importantly!) doesn’t give anything away either. And this is the kind of book where you ought to prefer being surprised.
And how surprising it was. When I called the cover and blurb clever, I did so because both have clearly still represented very well the content within. Jay Posey is a games writer when he’s not turning out books (Three is his debut), and while I’m not very much of a gamer, I do admire games, and I suspect that his experience there has translated to his writing. The atmosphere that pervades Three is dark, tense and incredibly visually styled; I had no trouble at all with mental pictures, and the ones I got were both breathtaking and wonderfully unnerving. From the scenery to the shockingly sudden attack/battle scenes, there’s clearly a deft artistic hand at work here. Posey knows his stuff, and no mistake.
And it doesn’t end with the style. That teasing, withholding-of-information approach is applied to the story as well – yet there is still a thoroughly engaging, heartstring-tugging one to be found here. This is a post-apocalyptic love story, a tale of friendship and hope in a world where both are as scarce as the natural resources. It is A Story Of Heroes, but Posey has well and truly kicked the behind of all those generic pretenders.
I don’t want to go into too much detail about the events in the book, but I do have to note that the relationships alone are also worth reading it for. It follows Three, the eponymous and extremely mysterious lone gunman of that synopsis, Cass and Wren – a mother and her son, running from a dangerous life and dangerous people, to Morningside, where they might find hope of survival and of real safety. Until they get there, however, it’s down to Three to protect them. Their relationships, as they bloom from deliberately distant and businesslike to true friendship and beyond, hooked me from the beginning and wouldn’t let go – even when Real Life got all annoying and kept me from simply devouring it the way I really wanted to!
The worldbuilding manages to be both fascinating and, I suspect, deliberately light on real details of how this world ended up the way it is – not to mention the real story behind Three. This is only the first of an intended series, so I trust that there’s plenty more to come, but even while I’m applauding all this cleverness I’m tempted to squint at the author here – in a goodnatured way, perhaps, but nonetheless. Sly, he is. There may be a refreshing lack of info-dumps, but if you prefer more building in your world, so to speak, this one might be more frustrating than enjoyable. That said, I am absolutely, wholeheartedly recommending it. Angry Robot scores again, and all the kudos to Jay Posey for this amazing debut.