The Va­grant

Swords and so­lar cells

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated / Books -

Re­lease Date: 23 April 400 pages | Hard­back/ ebook Au­thor: Peter New­man Pub­lisher: Harper Voy­ager

This isn’t an easy read.

Words don’t flow smoothly; stac­cato sen­tences stop/ start like a jud­der­ing car. Peter New­man’s novel of a de­mon- in­fested world is rem­i­nis­cent of Cor­mac McCarthy’s The Road – dark and des­o­late, re­lent­lessly bleak, with the odds stacked sky- high against the name­less wan­der­ing hero.

The pro­tag­o­nist in The Va­grant is also a man with no name. Trav­el­ling with a baby, a chatty side­kick ( named Harm) and a stub­born goat, he trudges across a land hor­ri­bly mu­tated and bro­ken by a de­monic in­va­sion. His task? Sur­vive. De­liver a Seraph Knight’s sen­tient sword to the Shin­ing City in the north.

New­man writes eco­nom­i­cally, short and sharp, spat­ter­ing his post- apoc­a­lyp­tic world with won­der­fully dark imag­in­ings: mes­sages car­ried in blood; cults of bi­o­log­i­cally aug­mented sur­vivors; a young girl re­made into an ar­moured hor­ror, her hu­man­ity still flick­er­ing be­neath metal and me­chan­ics. It’s deeply dark. Dif­fer­ent. Even some­what risky. The main char­ac­ter never speaks and so the au­thor uses the var­i­ous sup­port­ing char­ac­ters ( and a slow- burning back­story) to shape and de­fine him.

Ques­tions and open loops urge you for­ward. Who is the va­grant? Is the baby his? How can the trav­ellers out­run a hellish in­va­sion that kills, cor­rupts and re­an­i­mates ev­ery­thing it de­feats? Come visit this bril­liantly imag­i­na­tive land of winged swords and bro­ken so­lar cells. Find out for your­self. Dean Evans Peter New­man is mar­ried to an­other writer: Emma New­man, au­thor of the Split Worlds se­ries, set in a se­cret “mir­ror city” of Bath.

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