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Roil by Trent Jamieson
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It seems as though any book published by Angry Robot turns out to be wicked good. They're not your typical steampunk or urban fantasy novels. Roil is another example of a crazy good book.

This continent, Shale, - even the entire world, is being consumed by this thing called the Roil. Heat loving monsters like you've never heard of before....quarg hounds, witmoths, garment flutes...lots of baddies. From the back of the book - "It's up to a decadent wastrel, a four thousand year old man and a young woman bent on revenge to try to save their city - and the world."

I enjoyed this book, even though it seemed so hopeless that any of them would survive. The Roil is relentless and just consumes whole cities, people with them. The witmoths take over the people, and the whole thing is changing. What was once seemingly random monsters now seem to have a plan, and to be using strategy. Added to that you have a mayor of one city who has tried to convince the people there's no danger until the last minute, there's these other people called cuttlefolk who have an uneasy truce with people, and yet will kill. And that four thousand year old man? a very dangerous man who barely keeps himself in check, but is still trying to help save humanity.

The narration as well as the dialogue is very well done, making the book just flow. I would love to get hold of the second in this duology - find out who wins in the end.

The characters were great - the old man, creepy as hell and very powerful. The young man, David - who at first can only think of his drug, but of course, life intervenes (as it usually does), and Margaret. Margaret is soooo angry. She escaped a Roil invasion and wants to destroy the Roils - she's ready to kill.

Good reading, highly recommended. ( )
1 vote Mardel | Jul 31, 2013 |
This book, though I didn't realise it when I started it, is exactly the sort of industrial fantasy-horror that I really enjoy but rarely find, which means it definitely won't be for everyone. Really, if I were to classify it I would say it would be most at home with the Weird (and not really steampunk). Memorable characters, perilous situations, and a heady mix of realism with surreal touches. ( )
1 vote rrainer | Apr 30, 2013 |
Roil is the first book of Trent Jamieson's Nightbound Land duology. I've had it on my TBR since around the time it came out, but have only just got around to reading it. From the blurb:

Shale is dying. A vast, chaotic, monster-bearing storm known only as the Roil is expanding, consuming the land.

Where once there were twelve great cities, now only four remain, and their borders are being threatened by the growing cloud of darkness. The last humans are fighting back with ever more bizarre new machines. But one by one the defences are failing. And the Roil continues to grow.

With the land in turmoil, it’s up to a decadent wastrel, a four thousand year-old man, and a young woman intent on revenge to try to save their city – and the world.

Roil is set in a very different world to ours. Every layer of it is different, and so it takes a little while for the world to be fully built up — to Jamieson's credit, he avoids large chunks of info dumping — the blurb doesn't do that aspect justice. The Roil itself is a seething storm of monsters and destruction which can only be fought with cold. There's a bit of a steampunk aspect to the endothermic weaponry (ice cannon, ice rifles, cooled swords) and the transportation, but against the backdrop of the world being destroyed, it didn't feel as steampunky as another book might.

Margaret (see cover art) comes from a city that is already surrounded by the Roil. The other cities think it was destroyed when the Roil overtook it, but thanks to the ingenuity of her parents, the city was able to survive for twenty more years, keeping the monsters at bay with sophisticated ice cannon although they couldn't hold the ever-present darkness back. The story opens with the fall of Margaret's city and her flight out of the Roil.

Around the same time, David, a young drug addict, watches his father get assassinated and knows that he's next. In the course of fleeing for his life, he meets up with Cadell an Old (ancient) Man, and the only hope for defeating the Roil.

Ultimately, it's not just the Roil and its monsters that our main characters are up against; there are human forces with their own agenda — like the man who wants David dead — for them to contend with also.

I liked reading about both Margaret and David, although Margaret is definitely the more kickarse character and David is a bit wet behind the ears. There was a third character, Medicine Paul, who I found it harder to relate to because for the first half of the book I wasn't entirely sure whether I should be on his side or not. I suspect he'll play a more prominent role in the sequel.

The way Roil is written, you have to trust some aspects of the worldbuilding to make sense later on, which didn't bother me but might bother some readers. Also, while I wouldn't call Roil a horror book, it definitely has some aspects of horror, like someone being eaten by spiders and lots of people being possessed by evil moths. Fair warning. Perhaps dark steampunk fantasy would be an apt sub-genre/description. It also can be read as a metaphor for global warming but doesn't have to be and can definitely be enjoyed either way. I'm not sure if the parallels were the author's intention but they do exist. Oh, and points to him for getting thermodynamics right (with the endothermic weaponry etc), always good to see.

I enjoyed Roil more than I expected to after reading certain goodreads reviews. I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for something different in their fantasy or in their steampunk. Trust me, there's nothing pedestrian about the world Jamieson has created.

4.5 / 5 stars

You can read more of my reviews on my blog. ( )
  Tsana | Dec 20, 2012 |
For the premise - cities being overrun by nasties, it is a bit on the bland side. Not breezy enough for light adventure fantasy with airships and not enough horror for the weird. Stuck in the middle with endothermic ammunition. Points for the actual gear of the place there. Not zero imagination brass and clockwork crappery operated by idiots. And is often the problem with novels these days - it sags, being too long. Padded for trilogitis again, quite possibly.

An interesting bit in the end with some deleted scenes, though.

http://freesf.strandedinoz.com/wordpress/2012/01/roil-trent-jamieson/ ( )
  BlueTysonSS | Jan 5, 2012 |
The concept behind this book is a fascinating one, in which darkness is slowly taking over the world and transforming everything within it to something foul and violent and, in some places, genuinely creepy. The dead walk. Tiny moths flutter in your eyes and mouth and take over your brain so that you become a sentient extension of the Roil itself. And the shrinking pockets of humanity have to do their best to survive the Roil while also surviving all the other problems inherent with corrupt politicians and drugs and violence and all the other worldly vices.

A fascinating concept indeed. It's regretful, then, that I found this book falling short of what I saw as its initial potential.

This book mostly suffers from a lack of descriptive consistency. Some things are beautifully described, and there's no doubt of what characters are seeing, feeling, doing. Other things are glossed over. And I'm not talking about small things, either. The only clear picture I have of any of the Roil creatures is the Vermatisaur, and that thing appeared for about 5 pages. Things that appeared more often had brief descriptions of how they moved, how a part of their body looked, but nothing that could bring it all together in my mind.

The world of Shale and its history felt similarly. It felt like this was a book of hints, glimpses of some deeper story that could have made the whole thing so much richer if they'd actually been elaborated on and expanded instead of just glossed over and passed by. While reading this, I felt uncomfortably like I must have missed something. A previous book, some necessary prequel that would have clarified half of the finer details mentioned here. I felt like it was taken for granted that the readers would all be in the author's mind, knowing what he knew and thus there was n need for elaboration.

It didn't work that way. And I'm really sorry to see that, because as I said, the basic premise of the story was fine, and the kind of thing that you don't want to read alone once the sun's gone down. I don't suspect I'll be continuing on to the second book of the series after this rather inconsistent introduction. ( )
  Bibliotropic | Sep 20, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0857661841, Mass Market Paperback)

Shale is in trouble - the creature-filled darkness known as the Roil is expanding, consuming the land, swallowing cities whole. Where once there were 12 metropolises, now only 4 remain.

It's up to a drug addict, an old man and a woman bent on revenge to try to save their city - and the world.

File Under: Fantasy [ End Of The World | The Darkness Approaches | Addiction | On The Edge ]

e-book ISBN: 9780857661852

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:28:55 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Shale is dying. A vast, chaotic, monster-bearing storm known only as the Roil is expanding, consuming the land. The last humans are fighting back with ever more bizarre new machines, but the Roil seems unstoppable. It's up to a decadent wastrel, a four thousand year-old man, and a young woman bent on revenge, to try to save their city, and the world.… (more)

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