Spades of potential as a cult series for Sci-Fi/ Fantasy fans...
Pirian Horncastle is a Defect, a child born on Newton (a flying city) outside of the Dosage - a form of substance abuse that is used to control the mass populas - and carrying a mark. Its vague shifting shapes and an unnatural illness on Newton sets him apart, although he finds solace and relief within the confines of his father's Greenhouses where he is to feel closer to the Erth. When the Emperor of Newton is assassinated, Jeradon Horncastle is accused and dispatched with his young son to become Fallen; they are cast back down to Erth to either die or be captured by the Rojin - the sworn enemies of the Newtonians. But when the father and son do finally arrive on Erth, they eventually find themselves transported to the Rojin capital and it is not immediately clear if they are prisoners or the saviours of a people that Pirian has only ever read about.
The Enemy's Son does in part follow a pretty well defined structure for the fantasy genre: a world at some point in the future, remnants of the past concealed, mysterious, prophetic scriptures and at the epicentre, The Father - an all-seeing, all encompassing figure suspended within the Rojin capital.
I love the fact that Pirian's mark grows the longer he is on Erth - that his arm begins to have a mind of its own, struggling into a form of consciousness... The irony that Pirian's destiny is intertwined with those people that for generations the Horncastles have sought out and destroyed mercilessly is not easily ignored either. And the interchanging sections of story, weaving between past and present is cleverly done.
It does seem though that at times that the complexity of the story gets the better of the author and the narrative is reduced to a somewhat stilted and monosyllabic dialogue that barely makes sense or descriptive prose that lacks any real flavour (which is disappointing since it is obvious that Johnson has oodles of imagination) - at others, the sheer broodiness and intensity of the characters prevails and we are immediately sucked into an astonishing world full of strange phenomenon, mutated humans and biological and organic warfare.
Despite its literary shortcomings then, it is easy to see why the Erth Chronicles has already captured the imagination of so many Sci-Fi/ Fantasy fans - it is hugely original, gritty yet surreal and entirely within the bounds of imaginable possibility. This is not a take-it-or-leave-it book; I couldn't put it down... There is no question that I will be following the series with great interest and hope that as the story grows; so does the author's ability to tell it with increasing deftness and eloquence.
We interview C J Daugherty about Night School
- 10 January 2012