The Etched City by K.J. Bishop
The Etched CityThe Etched City feels like many other books, yet stands on its own. It features a gunslinger, as in Stephen King’s Dark Tower City. It has a steampunk feel with a combination of the Old West and the Victorian era and early Industrial Age. There’s a dry, war torn country with fighters fleeing a failed rebellion that is reminiscent of Dune. There’s a mafioso type family that runs the city and slaves – many books fall in there. Then there are the magical and odd and unusual incidents that remind the reader of the stand up needle through the arm geek act (remember Harry Anderson’s act?). It has elements of all and isn’t really any of them.
Raule and Gwynne are two nomads on the run from a failed rebellion in Copper Country. She’s a doctor. He is a survivor. After their defeat, they worked with bandits roaming the land. Gwynne often led the gangs and Raule patched them up. The two split when the bandit gangs fell apart. Both are wanted and hiding away from the Army Heroes. She is able to be a wandering doctor. He survives on his wits. They meet up again in a bar at the edge of nowhere.
From there they are able to escape Copper Country to Ashamoil. Raule takes a job as a surgeon in a poverty stricken neighborhood religious hospital. Gwynne becomes a henchman for the local organized crime boss. He can be a slave runner, a body guard, an assassin, or whatever is needed at the time. A priest tries to convert him from his atheistic views once a week in a local bar. He meets an elusive artist who attracts him in a way he’s never felt before. He soon becomes one of her subjects.
K.J. Bishop takes these two and twists them all over the place. Gwynne is an especially rich character. Yet if the reader stands back objectively he is an awful person. He left his own country to join the rebellion in Copper Country. Then he was a bandit. Then he was a loner gunslinger. surviving on his wits and with his guns. Bishop is able to still make him a sympathetic figure to keep the reader’s interest.
How to explain this book? I’m not sure there’s a good way. The Etched City is one that will be discussed and examined to figure the nuances and philosophies in the novel. You want to challenge yourself? Read K.J. Bishop’s The Etched City.
Notice: Graphic violence, Strong language, Suggestive dialogue or situations