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The Etched City
by K. J. Bishop
ISBN 189481522X / 9781894815222 / 1-894815-22-X
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Australian author K.J. Bishop's impressive first novel, The Etched City, draws deep from the well of dark fantasy to create a bruised and battered realm which invites comparison with Stephen King's Dark Tower series and China Mieville's twisted imaginings.
Set first in the dustbowl wasteland of the Copper Country, Bishop introduces the battlefield sawbones Raule and her gunslinging companion Gwynn. The duo's relationship of necessity is cemented as they flee the justice of "The Army of Heroes," a force created to put down a rebellion in which they were active participants. Wanted and destitute, they make for the uncharted Telute Shelf to find new lives amid the sprawling metropolis of Ashamoil. Gwynn's ruthless knack for violence sends him to the top of the town as an enforcer for the Horn Fan Cartel and its bustling slave trade. Raule, meanwhile, heads to the bottom where she tries to erase her brutal past through ministrations to the city's forsaken. Between the opposite poles of Gwynn and Raule is a languid tale wandering through a sideshow menagerie of lovelorn mobsters, debased priests, brutal imperialists, sorcererous drug dealers, gangland warlords, and otherworldly artists that deftly examines the nature of violence, compassion, spirituality, redemption, and reality. --Jeremy Pugh [via]