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Etched City, by K. J. Bishop
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Spectra
Published: 2004
Review Posted: 11/16/2006
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: 10 out of 10

Etched City, by K. J. Bishop

Book Review by Sheri Fresonke Harper

Have you read this book?

I found K. J. Bishop's novel Etched City an interesting intellectual exercise in understanding surrealism and a wonderful read. Her unique world consists of the Copper Country where black and white issues are easily decided by a gun. It stands in contrast to the city of Ashamoil's lush, perfumed, labyrinth complete with intricate politics. Magical content, alligator gods, paintings turned real, and the power of goodness help enhance the dream-like quality of the story.

Bishop's theme illustrates relationships altering reality. The book starts at the end of a bloody civil war. Both characters want escape. Gwynn's story dominates the novel. He is all ego - self-centered, pleasure seeking, with little sense of loyalty, and a true basilisk. When he comes in contact with an artist, we feel her pain as he slowly subverts her, and wonder as her own magic and the magic from a friend helps to transform him.

Raule, the healer, is a suitably self-examining character who responds instinctively to challenges, for instance, moving into the role of a soldier who commits murder in self-defense despite being a doctor. The reader has sympathy for Raule's battle fatigue.

Fantasy lovers will appreciate the richness of this novel that differs from the European world of leprecauns, elves and trolls. I rate this book 4 stars because of the rich setting, complex characters and interrelationships, the well developed society, and creative plot. However, the story is somewhat hard to follow and the characters have such a feel of battle fatigue that I sometimes failed to relate to them even as I kept turning the pages.
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