Monday, August 12, 2013

The best book you've never read...

My current job involves a fair amount of long haul air travel. This isn't great, but it does mean that I get to read a bit more than I used to. I generally chew through a paperpack per long haul flight.  So I've knocked off the usual suspects- Hunger games, Game of Thrones, various offerings, cultural and otherwise, from the late Iain M. Banks.  But I've also been lucky enough to catch some lesser known books.

The Woodenman series by Harry Connolly is a prime example.  A rare example of navel-gazeless urban fantasy, these books combine the velocity of a page-turning action story with the twists and turns of a whodunnit against the backdrop of unimaginable Lovecraftian horror. Refreshingly free of pretense and unapologetically relentless in their depiction of the corruption of power, the series balances accessibility and heft with style. The final book in the series is particularly gripping and poignant.  But just as Ray, the protagonist, is relentlessly drawn into battles between forces crueler and greater than himself, so went the books themselves.  "Circle of Enemies" was released just as the bookselling giant Borders was demolished, and failed to sell enough copies to extend the series.  Which makes is a very good book with a tiny circulation- a rare treasure in the ponderous landscape of pulp.
Ironically, though the loss of a bookstore chain doomed this story, its ghost lives on in the purgatory of the online retailer that slew it.  The e-books can still be conjured up via the internet, and even some paperbacks seem to still be in stock.
I'm don't know if the novelist will be publishing anything else- for all I know he's just a well constructed pseudonym of J. K. Rowling- but I hope he gets another chance, as his first three books were quite enjoyable.

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