June 25, 2013
Rich language in a different kind of fantasy
Cold Angel Days is set in the world of Johnson’s Dica series, a series I haven’t read, so I figured there would be things about the world that I wouldn’t understand, and there were, but nothing that stopped me enjoying the book or understanding the story. The relationship of Leiyatel, a kind of formless goddess figure, to the world of Dica appears to be a subtle one that would take reading the other books in the series to truly understand. Here it’s a bit of mystery. I think it’s a good introduction to the series actually, because it makes you curious to find out more.
As for the story; it’s very different. It’s a traditional fantasy but without a single sword or other weapon and without a single battle. There isn’t even a bad guy, and yet, Mr. Johnson kept me reading. After a journey to a tower, Falmead, loses himself. It’s as of he’s forgotten who he is, and he draws away from Geran, the woman he loved so adoringly at the beginning of the book. Geran’s sister Prescinda decides to sort out the problem for her dear upset sister, and so begins a journey to get Falmead back to his old self.
It seems that he has become possessed by a Cold Angel whose very presence threatens the stability of Leiyatel who holds the world together somehow. Nephril, an old friend of Falmead, who the poor man no longer recognises, has dire predictions for Falmead, but events conspire to provide a more amiable solution.
The most noteworthy thing about this book is the beautiful prose. Cold Angel is written in a richly poetic old style English, a delight to read, but probably an acquired taste. It’s the kind of book you can amble through, without wanting to speed, just rolling the words around in your mouth and enjoying their flavour. The read is somewhat akin to a very rich desert.
Falmead remains a shadowy figure and I didn’t feel that I got to know Geran very well, but Prescinda is the star of the book and is well fleshed out. I did enjoy Grog too. The book is well paced, but not dramatic, more like a steady journey, and comes to a satisfying and somewhat surprising conclusion.
The world of Dica is worth visiting just for the scenery, tall towers, castles, steep slopes and huge walls and of course, the usual kind of villages you see in any traditional fantasy – except that there are some basic mechanical vehicles, ones that come across as rather clunky, bad tempered and somewhat amusing.
I would recommend this to anyone who loves beautiful prose, a rich imagination and a story free of battles. I particularly enjoyed the mystical quality of the book and the descriptions of the inside of the tower. Somehow, Mr Johnson has created a solid world with an ethereal underbelly, a unique and magical world.