Combine equal parts of Stephen King's Dark Tower series and China Mieville's Perdido Street Station, throw in a dash of Aubrey Beardsley and J.K. Huysmans, and you'll get some idea of this disturbing, decadent first novel from Australian author Bishop. Through the devastated landscape of the Copper Country, where their side has been defeated in a war, two powerfully drawn protagonists flee the victorious Army of Heroes: Gwynn, a former mercenary, a dandy, an atheist and, eventually, the lieutenant of a wealthy slave dealer, but also a man not totally without honor; and Raule, a physician who once served in Gwynn's mercenary troop and has chosen to devote the rest of her life to caring for the poor, though she also likes to collect deformed fetuses simply because they fascinate her. Later, they make new lives for themselves in the fabulous, horrific and corrupt city of Ashamoil, where beautiful artists occasionally turn into sphinxes, babies are born half crocodile, flowers spring from freshly dead corpses and drunken priests work useless miracles. Characters love to discuss theology, aesthetics and ethics, and they're prone to obsessive love affairs with inappropriate partners. They're also capable of committing cold-blooded and gruesome murder with little or no remorse. Despite the rather mannered language, this grim tale should strongly appeal to aficionados of literate dark fantasy. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A gunslinger and a healer, both fugitives from a failed revolution, travel across the Copper Country to the city-state of Ashamoil, where they hope to lose themselves in the city's teeming population. The experiences of Gwynn the soldier as he delves into Ashamoil's more sinister elements and Raule the doctor as she finds a purpose among the city's poor merge into a dreamlike existence touched with beauty, terror, and the unexplainable. Reminiscent of Stephen King's "Dark Tower" series and the works of China Mi ville, Bishop's first novel combines the action-based atmosphere of a Western with the headiness of magical realism to forge a unique, visionary tale. For most fantasy collections. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.