About the book
In a world rebuilding after global mechanized war, chaos and ethnic tensions rule. City-states like Blightcross prosper under dictatorships built upon oil production. Refugees flock to the city-state to find work in the massive oil refineries. The black blood of Blightcross is replacing vihs-draaf, the magic of the Ehzeri people, but magic hasn’t entirely disappeared…yet. For fugitive soldier and thief Capra Jorassian, Blightcross is an opportunity to earn enough money for her freedom. Stealing an enchanted painting from the dictator’s collection is nothing new. But the simple heist gets complicated quickly when Capra’s childhood friend shows up, bent on bringing her back for court martial. Then her eccentric employer, the creator of the painting, is kidnapped, throwing Capra into a struggle for the survival of Blightcross, with only her enemies as allies. Till Sevari, the mad dictator of Blightcross, wants the secrets of the painting, and he’ll do anything to get them. But when the deadly forces within the painting spiral out of his control, Capra is the only one who can defeat them – by finding a power just as deadly, hidden beneath the lies of her own culture… Blightcross breaks the boundaries of steampunk, using fantasy to explore the world of post-colonialism and the greed of oil dependent cultures.
350 pages (paperback)
Published on: May 30, 2012
Published by: Tyche Books Ltd.
This book was given to me by the publisher for review.
If there’s one thing I really enjoy, it’s books that toy with possible futures. For example, Blightcross toys with a world that has been radically altered after a global mechanized war. The world is rebuilding, and chaos is left in its wake. Tensions are high due to altering cultures, racial clashes and new or altered governing systems. Mixed with all this is the loss of magic, and masses of refugees trying to find a means of survival. The setting of Blightcross is rife with chaos and tension, and it’s the perfect setting for ex-soldier-turned-thief Capra.
Capra is an interesting character to follow, though I do feel that the author missed the mark with her a bit. Capra is pretty much what you’d expect of an ex soldier thrust in the middle of a chaotic city-state. She survives on her wits and skills and has a mysterious past and plenty of men hunting her down to bring her to justice. The thing is, Capra isn’t poorly painted, it’s just that she’s rather too cliché and predictable for such a unique and layered world. However, despite this, Capra is the perfect character to use as a focus for a plot-driven story. Capra kicks ass and takes names but this is tempered quite a bit for the struggles Capra goes through, as the culture where this book takes place is not a culture that really respects women.
Capra isn’t the only lead character, though she is the character that sticks out the most. Vasi, another female lead who is one of the few who can still weld magic is also a fairly well done character, though in a much more subtle way. Vasi takes a while to grow on the reader, but as the book progresses her importance is firmly established and so is her character development. She also gives the reader an interesting insight into many of the events, as she has the unique position of being a person who can still use magic.
As I mentioned above, this truly is a plot driven story. Due to that, the world can lack some details and depth that some readers might notice, while others might not. That being said, the world truly is fascinating, even if it can lack some detail at times. Lang has a knack for not only showing how greed, industry and violence can change the face of the world we know, but he also shows how people would adjust to these changes. Lang shows how societies would change to fit the new picture of the world, and not all of these changes are wonderful. For example, magic is dying due to industry and oil. This affects some cultures in amazing ways. Refugees are fleeing to city-states ruled by all-powerful individuals for work and losing their own histories in the process. Cultures are clashing and people are struggling and Lang very tastefully shows the positive and negative aspects of this.
The truth is, Blightcross deals with a lot of issues – societal, environmental, political and much more. It’s quite amazing to see everything that’s nicely packed into this one book. Intermixed in that is a steady cadence to Lang’s writing that will serve to pull readers along. The book might start out somewhat slow, but it picks up pace incredibly fast. Though Blightcross did, at times, lack some details I would have really enjoyed, This book is one hell of an adventure. The characters will pull you into a true adventure story, but the depth and the staggering amount of deeper meanings and morals that Lang threads throughout his plot will make anyone stop and think.
I love books like that. It’s rare that a book will tell such a fun story and make me think so deeply about so many different things at the same time. While there are some small problems with pacing, details and the like, they are easy to overlook. Blightcross is one of those books that hasn’t been read, or talked about, nearly enough, and is a true gem that could dazzle many.