Guns Of The Dawn
Stepping out of the Shadows
Release Date: 12 February
700 pages | Hardback/ ebook Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky Publisher: Tor
latest fantasy novel leaves behind his popular Shadows Of The Apt series. The author’s working title for Guns Of The Dawn was A Woman’s War, and this neatly sums up a story that Tchaikovsky describes as “Jane Austen meets Bernard Cornwell by way of Ursula le Guin” – a heady mix of romance, muskets and magic.
Emily Marshwic is the woman in question, drafted into a civil war against the neighbouring Denlanders because all the able- bodied men have already been called to fight. She leaves behind two sisters, a big old house and the unwanted attention of the slimy Mr Northway, swapping them for a swampy battlefield, slow- firing muskets and mysterious warlocks. For the latter, think Mr Darcy with fireballs.
Guns Of The Dawn is slow to ignite, more plodding Pride And Prejudice at first than Cornwell’s Sharpe. But once the musket balls start to fly, Tchaikovsky weaves together a story that keeps you hooked with breathless battle scenes, well- drawn characters and an uneasy feeling in your gut that while Marshwic and her red- coated comrades are winning battles, they’re slowly losing the war.
Don’t baulk at the mention of romance – it’s a small part of the story and is as primly and properly handled as in any of Austen’s tales. Or “plodding ”. Judge this book by its first 160 pages and you’ll miss out on an engrossing story, beautifully told. Dean Evans Tchaikovsky’s dream casting includes “Robert Carlyle as tattooed scout and general lunatic Master Sergeant Mallen”.