Swainston, Steph -- The Year of Our War

Many of the inhabitants of the Fourlands have wings; Jant, unusually, can fly. He is also immortal (by the favor of the Emperor) and a junkie (by the grace of the needle). Nobody makes a fuss about the drugs, because a flying messenger is too valuable to the war effort. Invading waves of carnivorous, human-sized Insects, sort of thing.

The blurbs categorize this book as "weird fiction", which I don't think it is, really. The protagonist sometimes wears blue jeans, but it's straight-up epic fantasy -- except for the dream-world Jant slips into when he O.D.'s, which owes more to Michael Marshall Smith than to Mieville.

As a whole, this thing fails to be a whole; I never had a sense of what kind of book I was reading or where it was going. It's a war story, or recovering-junkie story, or a street-kid-has-weird- life-story story, or a political machination among the immortal aristocracy story, or a what is this quasi-rape scene doing in this book story... In the end the war wraps up in an awfully implausible plot twist, the cosmology is revealed to not make very much sense, the immortality is never explained at all, and Jant kicks the habit. I'm not sure where it leaves us. The writing per se is wonderfully vivid -- I don't think I've ever had as good a feel for what human flight would be like -- but I want the writer to settle down and put it in service of a novel.

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