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The Etched City by K. J. Bishop

The Etched City (2003)

by K. J. Bishop

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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7973017,481 (3.79)64
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» See also 64 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
I picked up this book because I had read reviews that recommended it for fans of China Mieville. While I can't really see much of a similarity in the two authors' writing styles, I did definitely like The Etched City very very much. I'm impressed that it's a first novel (and disappointed that there's not yet any more books by Bishop to read!) I hope she's busy writing right now!
The Etched City is the story of two ex-mercenaries, companions who life threw together - but who are two very different people. Both escape the dusty desert, one step ahead of trouble, seeking somethng better. Raule becomes a doctor to the poor, while Gwynn ends up as man-at-arms to a ruthless slaver. However, their personalities are not as black-and-white as their professions might indicate - although they are not necessarily friends. Raule knws she is emotionally damaged, and is weirdly drawn to collecting deformed fetuses... whle Gwynn quests after a mysterious artist of unearthly beauty, and becomed divided between her and the unsavory work he does... The Etched City doesn't have a strictly delineated plot, but its variegated threads weave themselves together wonderfully.
Complex, dark, and gritty, with moments of brilliant surreality, discursions on the topics of art and religion, love and compassion... I can only hope for more like this. ( )
  AltheaAnn | Feb 9, 2016 |
The start of the novel is superb and I was hooked and excited immediately. The opening reminded me much of Half-Made World and thoroughly enjoying the author's accomplished writing, I settled myself in for a fantastic journey.

But then, suddenly it's 3 years later and the characters have moved from the desert to the lush tropical city of Ashamoil. Raule's story diminishes altogether and what follows is more turgid soliloquies than a Shakespeare tragedy.

Evocative, at times surreal, the story drifts from the esoteric to a laudanum dream and without any real resolve or sense of completeness. I found the last three-quarters sagged aimlessly.

Bishop can write, and write beautifully, but I felt more like I was peeking in on someone's private dream than and welcome participant of an embracing experience. ( )
  StaticBlaq | Apr 26, 2015 |
I don't remember exactly what I heard about The Etched City before I bought it. I may have just bought it on a recommendation, because I don't remember reading about it being New Weird, or in any way akin to China Miéville; I had heard that it was gorgeous, which is true in many ways. It is a weird story, displaced in time -- is it the Wild West? Medieval times? Or the nineteenth century? to me, it seemed to slip between them all, inhabiting none of them but taking something from each -- and hovering between some kind of magical realism and total fantasy. There are some amazing images that will stick with me: the lotus growing out of a man's naval, for example. And the way the book starts out, deceptively run-of-the-mill fantasy, and then opens out as the weirdness unfolds, like, well, like flowers growing out of a split cranium. (That quote was my first hint about the weirdness of the story.)

In a way, I found it unsatisfying because I wanted to know more about Gwynn and Raule, more about the world, more about Beth. I would venture another comparison, though: to Catherynne M. Valente. There's a certain beauty about this story -- too robust to be called whimsical -- which makes it worth reading even if you're more of a plot-and-characters person.

It is, incidentally, also one of the books I picked for the WWE Women of Genre Fiction challenge. ( )
1 vote shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
Loved it. Unsettling, disorienting, and disturbingly familiar. Like one of those weird awesome fever dreams you try to hang on to. Only written better. ( )
  JohnnyPanic13 | Apr 3, 2013 |
Loved it. Unsettling, disorienting, and disturbingly familiar. Like one of those weird awesome fever dreams you try to hang on to. Only written better. ( )
  JohnnyPanic13 | Apr 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (4 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
K. J. Bishopprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lacorte, EleonoraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Youll, PaulCoversecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I despise and execrate pride and the indecent delights of that extinguishing irony which disjoints the precision of our thought.
--Lautréamont, Poésies
For Stuart
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There were no milestones in the Copper Country.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553382918, Paperback)

Australian author K.J. Bishop's impressive first novel, The Etched City, draws deep from the well of dark fantasy to create a bruised and battered realm which invites comparison with Stephen King's Dark Tower series and China Mieville's twisted imaginings.

Set first in the dustbowl wasteland of the Copper Country, Bishop introduces the battlefield sawbones Raule and her gunslinging companion Gwynn. The duo's relationship of necessity is cemented as they flee the justice of "The Army of Heroes," a force created to put down a rebellion in which they were active participants. Wanted and destitute, they make for the uncharted Telute Shelf to find new lives amid the sprawling metropolis of Ashamoil. Gwynn's ruthless knack for violence sends him to the top of the town as an enforcer for the Horn Fan Cartel and its bustling slave trade. Raule, meanwhile, heads to the bottom where she tries to erase her brutal past through ministrations to the city's forsaken. Between the opposite poles of Gwynn and Raule is a languid tale wandering through a sideshow menagerie of lovelorn mobsters, debased priests, brutal imperialists, sorcererous drug dealers, gangland warlords, and otherworldly artists that deftly examines the nature of violence, compassion, spirituality, redemption, and reality. --Jeremy Pugh

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:28 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"Gwynn and Raule are rebels on the run, with little in common except being on the losing side of a hard-fought war. Gwynn is a gunslinger from the north, a loner, a survivor...a killer. Raule is a wandering surgeon, a healer who still believes in just - and lost - causes. Bound by a desire to escape the ghosts of the past, together they flee to the teeming city of Ashamoil, where Raule plies her trade among the desperate and destitute, and Gwynn becomes bodyguard and assassin for the household of a corrupt magnate. There, in the saving and taking of lives, they find themselves immersed in a world where art infects life, dream and waking fuse, and splendid and frightening miracles begin to bloom."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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