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Roil by Trent Jamieson
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egalley thanks to Angry Robot

Interesting premise isn't it? And totally wrong.

I had to literally fight my way through the book. Don't get me wrong, - this is a good book, interesting, original, leaves plenty to work with for your imagination... But my God, would it have hurt to give us a little bit of prologue or some sort of world description instead of just throwing us into the deep end and let us swim or sink?

It took me 5 chapters to understand the structure. The quote in the beginning of each chapter is from the future and it's relevant to what happens to the characters in the present.

In the south last defence of civilisation, city of Tate succumbs to Roil, a chaotic mass of creatures with one consciousness, that came out from the core of the planet. Roil can't stand the cold, which is the only weapon of the last human cities against its invasion.

Margaret, the only daughter of Tate engineers manages to get out of the dying city and heads off up north.

In the north David, an addict and a son of one of the leaders of the opposition to the current tyrant watches his father die from the hands of Vergers, some sort of genetically modified human hunters. His father's friends arrange his passage away from the city with the help of one of the Old Men, half-mad and very strange Cadell.

Cadell has got his own agenda. He is one of the first Engineers who built the Engine of the World, but they played too much with it, civilisation crumbled to what it is now and the Engineers were cursed with virtual immortality, madness and perpetual cannibalistic hunger for human flesh.

Cadell wants to see the extent of damage the Roil has done and get to The Engine to switch on the cold and destroy the Roil.

The book is full of confusing power struggles, multiple POV's, battles, gadgets, pursuits and even has a magnificent airships fight. It took me half a book to get into it, and if you get that far it was all worth it, ladies and gentlemen! :) In the end I had more questions than answers, and I would really want to get a bit more clear structure and less different POV's in the book two.

Overall, not bad. Not bad at all. ( )
  kara-karina | Nov 20, 2015 |


'How does one go about saving the world?' Roil is the first part of a duology The Nightbound Land and as such it mostly sets up the stage for the second book. I am going to rate it by how much it succeeds in doing that. Credit where credit's due sort of a thing.

The world, Shale, is a world with two moons and a dozen of independent city-states. Now almost all of those marvellous cities are disappearing under the onslaught of a strange spore-bearing storm that transforms everything it comes in contact with.
A lot of people have died behind the Obsidian Curtain, in the Roil, but it seems something even worse is happening now. The Roil seems sentient, smarter and faster. It is as if someone or something is directing it. The only thing that hurts it or anything that comes from it is the cold, but even that can't seem to last for long.

Each chapter starts with what seems to be an extract from a history book, a diary or a personal notes of prominent men of the time this story takes place; then then it shows what really happened during those years when the Roil tried to swallow the world with its new tricks.

The story follows three characters and occasionally two or three more.
Cadell, one of the cursed eight four-thousand-year-old Old Men, who is released from his imprisonment by the father of another protagonist, a young addict David. Cadell seems to be the only one capable of dealing with the Roil since the only thing that has any chance to beat it is the Engine of the World, a 'mythical Engine of the North – the ancient saviour and scour of the world.' Cadell was one of its creators and he and the rest of them were punished for creating it.

At first I thought I might not like David. An addict as a true hero? He threw up so many times in the beginning I was wondering if he was going to vomit through the whole story. Fortunately, David turns out to be a very likeable protagonist.

The third, who joined them much later in the book, is Margaret Penn. She is the only survivor from Tate, a city in the Roil everyone thought was lost decades ago. Tate fought and managed to live in the Roil itself. We get to see its fall. It would be harder to read about Tate's valiant attempt to fight that last fight if I knew how special the city was.

Cadell, David and Margaret aren't the only ones whose point of view we see though. The Mayor of Mirrlees is one of those people who wishes to save humanity by sacrificing a huge portion of it. The first victims of that particular fight fell in a political war. David's father was one of those who were assassinated. Then you have Medicine Paul, an opposite of the Mayor.
There is another strange thing about the story. The author had this perfect villain in Mr Tope and didn't use him as much as he could.

The whole plot of Roil could be summarized in a couple of sentences: they flee from their enemies and then try to decide what to do about the Roil itself. So there is a lot of travelling to and from places (airships, a train, on foot) and running. As I said, this book seems to set the stage for the second one.

The greatest strength of the book lies in the the world the author has created. The machines and weaponry they use, means of transport, the Roil with its Witmoths that transform everything, various monsters from the Roil and the changes the characters see it them, the strange savage and bloodthirsty people of the Cuttlefolk, the Vergers and so on, are enough to make worth reading even with the annoying bits.

Even with all the bits and pieces that annoyed me (one of them being 'Now she was frantic. Her and the Roslyn Dawn both.' - that one really bugged me), this is still a great book. I wish I knew more about the Old Men and that the author used Mr Tope's character more.

And that ending? I takes the prize as the most abrupt, cut off-in-the middle-of-a-sentence type of an ending ever.
( )
  Irena. | Nov 3, 2015 |
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 |
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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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:12 -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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