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Nights of Villjamur - Mark Charan Newton

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Genre: Author: Mark Charan Newton / Hardcover / 400 Pages / Book is published 2009-06-05 by Tor Books

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      06.08.2010 12:07
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      Good but not great debut novel

      Nights of Villjamur is the first novel by British fantasy author Mark Charan Newton and is set in the mythical city of Villjamur. The book is in the Gormenghast genre of fantasy rather than Tolkien, setting the story in a decadent corrupt city with complex troubled characters with a fair sprinkling of sex and violence.

      The book is set around three main characters Investigator Jeryd, a womanising chancer called Randur and loyal general Brynd. Randur is a chancer who finding the real dead Randur decides to take the man's identity as a dance instructor to the royal court, his back story has yet to be filled in. Brynd is a commander of a troubled emperor, the emperor has mental problems and believes that everyone except Brynd wants him dead, Brynd is also secretly gay. Jeryd is unlike the other two a Rumel, a humanoid race which live in uneasy alliance with humans. He is married but loves his job and his job is driving a wedge between him and his wife.

      The book then begins with a murder, a councillor is killed and the murder is a strange and mysterious one. Jeryd is asked to investigate and is soon pulled into the cities underworld filled with demented citizens and strange humanoid races. There is plenty of sex, and gothic horror, Jeryd has an assistant with an agenda and with the hot's for Jeryd's wife!!

      Slowly the investigation expands away from the dead councillor to the troubled Emperor and the chancer Randur, the emperor shocks his people by his actions and the city is sent into a military dictatorship.

      Behind this story is one of a troubled land, the approach of the long forecast winter and the movement of people into the city from the destroyed lands in the west. There are tales of marauding human like creatures slaughtering all before them and refugees arrive with no food and no shelter. This book is mainly set in Villjamur but there are occasional scenes set away from the city, there are strange battles and through Brynds eye we see the kingdom start to disintegrate.

      This is a complex novel, characters in it are hard to like and some of them are almost villains. The city dominates the story and it is described in loving detail,that perhaps is a strength and a weakness. Strength in that it echoes of Peakes Gormenghast we get to know the city very well but a weakness in that the rest of the country is almost never mentioned.

      This is the first part of at least 2 books so ends with many lines of action unexplained, however, it perhaps gets a little bogged down about sex and how it corrupts through the power of lust. The driving force behind most of the action is desire, with a pinch of power grabbing. Jeryd was my favourite character and he comes across as a world weary investigator only wanting the best in the world but constantly finding that real life lets him down.

      I enjoyed the novel, but don't have a burning desire to read the next whic is perhaps an indicator that this was good but not great.

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