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Trial of Flowers by Jay Lake
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Trial of Flowers

by Jay Lake

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213None55,261 (3.61)5
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  1. 00
    City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer (cmthomas)
    cmthomas: Jay Lake has said Trial of Flowers was his response to City of Saints and Madmen, The Etched City and Perdido Street Station
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Rating: 4.25* of five

The Publisher Says: The City Imperishable's secret master and heir to the long-vacant throne has vanished from a locked room, as politics have turned deadly in a bid to revive the city's long-vanished empire.

The city's dwarfs, stunted from spending their childhoods in confining boxes, are restive. Bijaz the Dwarf, leader of the Sewn faction among the dwarfs, fights their persecution. Jason the Factor, friend and apprentice to the missing master, works to maintain stability in the absence of a guiding hand. Imago of Lockwood struggles to revive the office of Lord Mayor in a bid to turn the City Imperishable away from the path of destruction.

These three must contend with one another as they race to resolve the threats to the city.

My Review: What a trip. The back cover copy calls it an "urban fantasy," which to my mind doesn't conjure images of Perdido Street Station (which this book reminds me of) so much as it does Dead Until Dark et. seq. But the key factor here is to be found in the word "fantasy."

I read a fantasy novel.

There, I said it.

I not only read it, I enjoyed it. BUT DON'T FOR GAWD'S SAKE TELL ANYONE. I will swear an oath that you're lying and that you must be the one who hacked my account and wrote a glowing heap of praise for a book with dwarves, an ancient city declining under an empty throne, a reluctant hero...well, you see my predicament. I can't admit out loud that I liked this kind of guff. "The city is," runs the motto Lake gives the City Imperishable. Yeeesh, really? Portentous much?

But seriously, who wouldn't like a book with this in it:
There was nothing left of himself that he wanted, save the vague glimmer of peace that he found somewhere inside the violet smoke. Finally he understood the place to which his wife had long since retreated.
Sometimes, when the snow was not so deep and he'd managed a little soup or coffee, {he} thought about making his way {home} and apologizing to his wife. He wasn't sure she'd understand him though--the crap dust had begun to rot his teeth, getting in all too quickly through the breaks, and his tongue was always dry as leather and twice too big.
The abjection of a powerful character, the absolute fall, the hitting bottom with a resounding *crunch* is unsettlingly well-limned.

And some regulars among you might recall my utterances on the subject of majgicqk. They have been uniformly derisory and occasionally cachinnatory. But here again Lake subverts and alters my wall of defense against balderdash:
"Everything carries the seeds of its own opposition, in equal measure. Have you ever toppled a wall? ... You must press as much as it takes to move the stones. They react as they are pushed. What people care to call magic works the same way. No one calls lightning from the summer sky without burning a hole in something, somewhere."
When you put it that way....

The City Imperishable is, like all places and cultures, built on a bargain. The bargain has costs and it has benefits. Those who pay the costs aren't always the ones who reap the benefits. Each main character, Bijaz the dwarf, Imago the Lord Mayor, and Jason the fector, pays dearly for the City Imperishable to derive the final benefit: Remaining alive. But each of these men, in their turn, finds a greater benefit in his sacrifice. They become whole in their brokenness, and anneal the metal of their character, and in the testing of their different mettles, bring life raging anew through the City Imperishable.

The city is. ( )
  richardderus | Jul 25, 2013 |
Bizarrely if florally written, this Tale Of The City Imperishable" follows the paths of three denizens of the aforementioned metropolis in their combined efforts to preserve the integrity of their home, politically, strategically, and spiritually.Lake's City exists in fantasy, with stunted men, barbarians at the gate, and inexplicable magic floating free, but the meat of the story focuses on the power struggle between the established board of regents and a reactivated office of the mayor. Along the way there are sidebars into human sacrifice, dwarf buggery, and a weird kind of sibling voodoo.Urban fantasy? Maybe, but I hate that term. ( )
  conformer | Feb 9, 2010 |
The City Imperishable is an ancient, gods-beset metropolis like Lankhmar or Tai-Tastigon, boldly rendered in a New Weird style. Lake gives us three protagonists, all of whom show loathsome traits from the start, and puts them into situations where they are forced to save their home city from destruction. The tale is well-told, and while the main characters certainly seem to deserve the hell they’re put through, I enjoyed seeing how that brought out their more noble impulses. The world is richly imagined, though one that I wouldn’t want to stay in. ( )
1 vote slothman | Jan 14, 2010 |
Jason and the Boxodwarfs.

or

Dunnyman delving Imago shortening sequence sacrifice.

In a rather strange city - one that is definitely of the New Weird variety, three men form a strange alliance of sorts because they can see very bad things are likely to happen in the future. Old Gods coming back, apparently not good at all.

These three are a dwarf, a business type, and a not-at-the-moment layabout lawyer.

Some old political legislation is used to challenge the status quo, as well as the leverage of an invading army that would like to do away with them.

Cults, gangs, cameleopards, blind child monsters, devil dogs, guns, gamblers and more.

Definitely not one for the squeamish. The dwarves here are formed in the Japanese torture-and-bonsai variety, not the born under mountains and hang out with hobbits type.

http://notfreesf.blogspot.com/2008/05/trial-of-flowers-jay-lake.html ( )
  bluetyson | May 12, 2008 |
From reading other reviews online, I gather that this work is considered to be in the tradition referred to as 'New Weird.' I am not particularly conversant with this 'New Weird', although I read a short story by Jeff VanderMeer once, and half of a Mary Gentle novel. So I can't really speak to what Lake is doing within, or in terms of, the New Weird school. Sorry.

That said, the book worked fine for me without any background reading. Weird, with no modifiers, it certainly was...

More.
  teratologist | Dec 7, 2007 |
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The City Imperishable's secret master and heir to the long-vacant throne has vanished from a locked room, as politics have turned deadly in a bid to revive the city's long-vanished empire. The city's dwarfs, stunted from spending their childhoods in confining boxes, are restive. Bijaz the Dwarf, leader of the Sewn faction among the dwarfs, fights their persecution. Jason the Factor, friend and apprentice to the missing master, works to maintain stability in the absence of a guiding hand. Imago of Lockwood struggles to revive the office of Lord Mayor in a bid to turn the City Imperishable away from the path of destruction. These three must contend with one another as they race to resolve the threats to the city.… (more)

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