A leaf from the Super hero branch
This is the third Legends of the Red Sun novel; the final is due next summer. I loved City of Ruin, at least the second half so it was with great expectations I sat down to read The Book of Transformations.
As earlier there is a multitude of point-of-view characters which can be confusing at first but it pays off in the end. It still drags down a bit at times and for me some of the side stories took too much space without moving the plot forward enough.
We are mainly back in Villjamur with a detour or two to another world/dimension. Mark Charan Newton borrows shamelessly from different genres. The last book was close to a science fiction adventure but this one dresses up in super hero feathers.
The usurper Urtica tries to restore some of Villjamur’s former glory to pacify the citizens but the mysterious stranger Shaley brews up an underground movement that makes all kind of problems from crimes to assassinations.
That’s where Investigator Fulcrom comes into the story (we meet him earlier in the series). The Inquisition is failing to deal with this new threat so Emperor Urtica constructs a group of ‘super’ heroes with the help of the cultists and appoint Fulcrom as their leader. All the heroes have secrets the emperor uses to control them.
In the first two books the main character was the two cities; here for the first time it is a person, the transsexual Lan who starts out impersonating a female at a circus, transforms once and again to ends up one of the super heroes. Her life is a struggle against prejudice and need of acceptance. Mark steers clear of the obvious pointers and makes it a story about the person instead in a way I admire. Fulcrom is also something of a main character to be honest.
But there are more characters. The Cultist Dartun Súr broken and altered returns and heads back to Villjamur together with his surviving followers, the rightful heirs to the crown on their way back and many others.
We learn more about the mysterious invaders who now start to make sense but leaves more than enough unanswered questions for the next book. The world building is excellent and a unique mix of different genres. The world has a feeling of being a lost colony under a dying red sun where communication somehow was lost in ancient times now with cultists who practice their magic with artifacts they no longer understand. But things are changing, the ice age is coming and the gates to other worlds are open again. Old secrets are being revealed and we learn the truth piece by piece.
This truly is a book of transformation, personal, physical and architectonical. The super hero pill was surprisingly easy to get down. I like The Book of Transformations it feels tighter and I start to understand things (I hope). I very much look forward to the final volume next year.
A new and corrupt Emperor seeks to rebuild the ancient structures of Villjamur to give the people of the city hope in the face of great upheaval and an oppressing ice age. But when a stranger called Shalev arrives, empowering a militant underground movement, crime and terror becomes rampant.
The Inquisition is always one step behind, and military resources are spread thinly across the Empire. So Emperor Urtica calls upon cultists to help construct a group to eliminate those involved with the uprising, and calm the populace. But there’s more to The Villjamur Knights than just phenomenal skills and abilities – each have a secret that, if exposed, could destroy everything they represent.
Investigator Fulcrom of the Villjamur Inquisition is given the unenviable task of managing the Knights’, but his own skills are tested when a mysterious priest, who has travelled from beyond the fringes of the Empire, seeks his help. The priest’s existence threatens the church, and his quest promises to unweave the fabric of the world.
And in a distant corner of the Empire, the enigmatic cultist Dartun Súr steps back into this world, having witnessed horrors beyond his imagination. Broken, altered, he and the remnants of his cultist order are heading back to Villjamur.
And all eyes turn to the Sanctuary City, for Villjamur’s ancient legends are about to be shattered . . .