HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Thunderer by Felix Gilman
Loading...

Thunderer

by Felix Gilman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Thunderer (Book 1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3131235,548 (3.78)19
  1. 00
    Scar Night by Alan Campbell (Sakerfalcon)
    Sakerfalcon: Strange goings-on in mysterious, labyrinthine cities. Both books share similar strengths and weaknesses.
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 19 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
I really liked this book but I admit that I am sucker for fantasy that is dark and twisted. Not as good as Mieville, or as dark, but along the same lines. A city that never stays the same. A dark corrupted god that stalks its' citizens. In the center one man in search of his lost god stalked by another. It had a few first novel problems but nothing that ruined the story for me. I can't wait to read the next one but I will. I think I will save it for my cruise. ( )
  CSDaley | Mar 28, 2018 |
Quite dull, with boring characters and mediocre to decent prose. Some decent ideas, but the plot was a mess overall. ( )
  elucubrare | Feb 9, 2018 |
Felix Gilman unbeknowingly become one of my favourite authors at this point in time and Thunderer was the first novel I read. I later picked up The Half-Made World completely by accident and didn't realise it was the same author until halfway through!
It was an odd little novel, and quite the slow-burner. It may well have been in danger of not making it to the end, but there was enough there to keep me going. But when the main character starts exploring the city towards the end, I found the story really took flight (excuse the pun) and I wish there had of been more of that. That part really filled me with wonder.
It's been a while since I read this now, and most of the details have since fled. I guess a re-read is in order! ( )
  StaticBlaq | Apr 26, 2015 |
If it hadn’t already been appropriated by novels about punk-rock elves and brazen private eyes that have sex with werewolves then “Urban Fantasy” would be a perfect designation for Felix Gilman’s debut novel _Thunderer_. Of course this type of story isn’t new. Writers have been examining the rot and corruption (as well as the fascination and glory) they see at the heart of our urban civilization at least since the days of Rome, the great archetype of the City in western culture. The conflict between the mob and the establishment seems to have been present from the beginning, a continual war and contention for rulership of the people and places that make up our urban centres. This isn’t new in the realm of genre fantasy either, from Brian Aldiss’ [b:The Malacia Tapestry|973545|The Malacia Tapestry|Brian W. Aldiss|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1230934987s/973545.jpg|958441], to more recent works by the likes of Mieville and VanderMeer, the city and its constant dance between progress and corruption have been a favourite subject. I was already a fan of Gilman’s prior to reading this, but _Thunderer_ really impressed me given that it was the first novel he had published. His writing style, as I noted in my review of [b:The Half-Made World|8198773|The Half-Made World|Felix Gilman|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1312035395s/8198773.jpg|13045676], is very fluid. It goes beyond mere ‘transparency’, but isn’t showy or laboured either; it easily carries the reader along with his tale and makes a high page count seem to fly by in no time at all. I imagine that no matter how large a book of his was it would never be plodding.

Gilman’s tale in this book mainly centres on three characters: Arjun, the chorister and semi-scholar from a far-flung mountain monastery searching for his lost god and hoping that it can be found in the god-haunted confines of the archetypal city of Ararat; Arlandes, soldier and captain of the forces of the Countess (one of the many civil authorities vying for power and glory in the great city) who has suffered a tragic loss and become a symbol by turns both beloved and hated by the citizenry; and Jack Silk, a young boy who manages to escape from his imprisonment in a workhouse with the help of one of the city’s gods and who is granted an ambiguous gift by its passing. All three of these characters are somehow connected to the figure of Doctor Holbach, a man who could be considered scientist, wizard and priest in equal measure. Holbach is, like Arlandes, a member of the Countess’ court and ultimately is the creator of the great flying ship the Thunderer which becomes a symbol for all that is both right and wrong with the city. He is also the centre of the Atlas, a project that has been driven underground by the powers that be, but which continues to gather to itself the many discontented artists, scientists and intelligentsia of Ararat in the monumental effort to map out the city in its entirety. This is a prospect that is not as simple as it might seem on the surface, for Ararat is a city infested by gods (though some might call them haunts or demons) and the gods shape the city through their interaction with it, moulding and changing the landscape according to their whim. As one character notes: “The gods are the city. The city is us.” Yet the Atlas-makers persist in their hopes of creating the Grand Unified Theory of Ararat; a theory that might let them control and shape the many wild forces that control and shape their world. This is, of course, anathema and heresy to the political and religious powers that be, though even they are unaware of the real danger that such researches into the nature of the gods and the city might bring about in the wrong hands.

One could really argue, however, that the true main character of _Thunderer_ is Ararat itself. It is the greatest of all possible cities, it *is* all possible cities. Its sheer size encompasses more than simply space, but time and meaning as well. It is the ever-changing City that seems to exist in all dimensions and none, that crosses through all times and encompasses all of what we mean when we say the word: City. The city itself is not medieval or renaissance, Victorian or modern, but it seems to have aspects of all of these, growing and changing in a way that has little or nothing to do with linear progress.

The plot itself, however, revolves around the three protagonists already mentioned and their interactions with the City and each other. The opening of the book, and the catalyst for the action of the novel, is ultimately centred on the arrival of one of Ararat’s long-absent gods, the Bird, whose appearance heralds both the rise of Jack Silk and the creation of the titular Thunderer, a great flying warship that, through Hollbach’s magical science (or scientific magic), has also harnessed some of the Bird’s power. Arjun is on a quest to find the lost and gentle god of his people, known only as the Voice. It is a god of song and quiet harmony that would seem out of place with many of the gods he encounters in Ararat; the City’s gods are strong and uncompromising, gods of power, control, death and rebirth and Arjun soon becomes lost in the tangled streets these gods create, hoping against hope to find his lost purpose. Jack becomes a folk-hero, a child granted powers by the god of speed, freedom and flight and becomes a wild Peter Pan (there is even a neat homage to Peter Pan vs. the Pirates), gathering to himself all of the lost children of Ararat, breaking them out of prisons and workhouses and fighting the temporal and religious powers that sent them there. Both Jack and Arjun are touched directly by the gods of the City, one in power and joy, the other in choking darkness and despair. They become fey and strange to those around them, obsessed with their own altered perceptions and often viewed as mad. They have been changed by their experiences and can no longer comfortably live a life of normalcy for they stand outside of the range of normal human understanding, though many try to share vicariously in their god-touched experience. Arlandes is touched by a god too, though not in the direct metaphysical way that Jack and Arjun are. He is plunged into despair and anger by loss, through a seemingly unintentional sacrifice to the same god that granted Jack his great abilities during the process that created the great engine of destruction that shall become his emblem: the Thunderer. In following all of these characters, and the gods that empower them and their City, the story examines the birth of legends, the ways they change and, ultimately, how they die.

The ambiguity of the characters Gilman has created is refreshing. Is Jack a revolutionary messiah, bringing freedom and justice to the oppressed, or is he a vicious, deluded child living out a boy’s violent fantasies in the name of his god and only ostensibly for the people? Is Arlandes the tragic and romantic hero of the great ship which protects the people, or is he a violent and angry thug doling out retribution against the world? Is Arjun an enlightened and peaceful seeker of the truth, or a deluded weakling looking for something outside of himself to fill up his life? The answer, in all cases, seems to be both. Ultimately as each of the characters fulfills the role the City seems to have selected for them things begin to unexpectedly change, and even spin out of control, for it is not only the Atlas-makers that are trying to learn the secrets of the City. It appears there are others with arcane knowledge that they use for less selfless purposes and we soon find that the gods and their ways are not to be tampered with. It was always known to its inhabitants that Ararat had a cycle of life and death, good and bad, and things always turned on this eternal wheel. The gods would inevitably change the City, but these changes were somewhat understood, at least at a gut level, by the people of the City, but what happens when someone dares to change the nature of the gods themselves? It is this danger that proves to be the ultimate conflict into which the characters find themselves drawn. The conclusion of the novel is somewhat open-ended, but I still found it to be satisfying and since there is a sequel I look forward to further following the winding streets of Ararat.

Dan: I definitely recommend it.
( )
1 vote dulac3 | Apr 2, 2013 |
Interesting and imaginative first chapter. Then the second chapter is all summary. Then the third chapter starts all summary. I think the editor fell asleep. I know I did.
  malrubius | Apr 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 12 (next | show all)
The narrative jumps around a bit in both books, especially at the beginnings. Felix Gilman's imaginative writing often leaves a lyrical waxy buildup that could have been tempered by his cast of dozens of creatively flamboyant or frightening characters. Unfortunately, most of them are so driven by their own particular obsessions that they come off as rather flat. Gilman may have tried to cram too much into these novels. There's a lot of "weird for weirdness' sake", and too many of the plot threads and Big Secrets have predictable resolutions. Felix Gilman has a great deal of vision, and hopefully we will see better and more focused work from him in the future.
added by PhoenixTerran | editio9, Chris Hsiang (Feb 20, 2009)
 

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Felix Gilmanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Youll, StephenCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
To Sarah
First words
He came to the city at the end of summer, over the sea; leaning out over the boat's plain prow, scanning the horizon, nervously telling beads of scale and bone through his thin fingers.
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 055359110X, Mass Market Paperback)

In this breathtaking debut novel, one man embarks on a thrilling and treacherous quest for his people’s lost god—in a labyrinthine Dickensian city that is either blessed . . . or haunted.

Arjun arrives in Ararat just as a magnificent winged creature sails over the city. It is the day of the return of that long-awaited mystical creature: the great Bird. As it soars across the land, as the city’s mapless streets are transformed, as the great river changes its course, as the territories of the city’s avian life are redrawn, crowds cheer and guns salute. Then comes the time for the Bird’s power to be trapped—within the hull of the floating warship Thunderer, now a living temple to the Bird, and a terrible new weapon to be used, allegedly, in the interests of all of Ararat.

Hurtled into this convulsing world is Arjun, who will unwittingly unleash a dark power beyond his imagining—and dare to test Ararat’s moving boundaries. For in this city of gods, he has come to search among them, not to hide.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:44 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

One man embarks on a thrilling and treacherous quest for his people's lost god--in an elaborate Dickensian city that is either blessed or haunted.--From publisher description.

LibraryThing Author

Felix Gilman is a LibraryThing Author, an author who lists their personal library on LibraryThing.

profile page | author page

Quick Links

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (3.78)
0.5
1 1
1.5
2 3
2.5
3 10
3.5 8
4 26
4.5 9
5 5

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 125,572,192 books! | Top bar: Always visible