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A Storm of Wings (Viriconium #2)

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  173 ratings  ·  22 reviews

Viriconium: The Pastel City was the last bastion of the civilized world where Queen Methvet Nian ruled supreme. Now she watched, helpless, as the Time of the Locust became a monstrous reality, turning the inhabitants into hideous, mindless insects.

Cellur, the Bird Lord, e
Paperback, 185 pages
Published 1980 by Sphere
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Bill  Kerwin

One of the most memorable characters in "A Storm of Wings" is the fabled lunanaut Benedict Paucemanly, who, after one hundred years of imprisonment on the moon, can not only no longer retain his original form, but also has difficulty maintaining any particular shape. He expands and contracts automatically, helplessly. and occasionally disintegrates into little globules resembling scores of floating clouds. His speech, although suggestive and poetic, is difficult to decipher. Occasionally he come
Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

A Storm of Wings is the second part of M. John Harrison’s VIRICONIUM sequence. Viriconium has been at peace for eighty years after the threat from the north was eliminated, but now there are new threats to the city. Something has detached from the moon and fallen to earth. A huge insect head has been discovered in one of the towns of the Reborn. The Reborn are starting to go mad. Also, a new rapidly growing cult is teaching that there is no objective reali
Harrison had matured as a writer when he penned this sequel to The Pastel City - some nine years having passed in between - and it showed: he discarded or relegated to the background the weaker elements from the prior book and concentrated upon its, and his, strengths. Harrison has always excelled at painting atmospheric scapes and moods; at finding the sorrow and melancholy, the potentiality for loss and regret that is inherent in existence, in the passage of space through the straitening par ...more
Chaos, madness, insanity. These are words that feel apt to describe this second book of the Viriconium series by M. John Harrison. And how could it not be so, as half of the book's main characters are either mad or insane and its protagonist is more chaotic than a air-bubble under boil. As usual, I will avoid going into describing the synopsis of the book, you can read that up there ^. Instead, I will go straight into my review.

I've read in other reviews that this novel's characters ar
A Storm of Wings is in incredibly frustrating book because the author both tries too hard and doesn't try hard enough. For example, M. John Harrison tries far too hard to convince the reader that the setting of his novel is dream-like, hallucinatory, and weird. That's a fine world-building goal in itself, but when one of your primary ways of achieving a phantasmagorical setting is to describe things over and over with the words “indescribable” and “alien,” you're actively avoiding engaging with ...more
Edward Rathke
Devastating and disorienting. It's one of the most surreal novels I can remember, and it plays with memory and time and reality so carelessly that it throws you often into the effluvium of existence in a rotting world on a dying earth.

It's shockingly beautiful in this grotesque and horrifying way. Harrison writes almost exclusively perfect sounding sentences, but they never distract from the miasma that's called the narrative.

It's a novel populated by people and reality literally going insane.
Certainly wasn't expecting this after Pastel City. Kind of inspiring how this author pulls off a combination of weird high style, scenes of insane scale and movement, and an absolutely twisted and beautiful vision. rare dude.
M. John Harrison’s second Viriconium story (1980) is a dull, rudderless, exasperating 2-star novel with eruptions of 5-star genius suckerpunching this reader throughout.

Imagine climbing an enormous spiral-staircase of junk-DNA with sudden, gleaming strands of revelatory code supercharging your journey at unforeseen intervals. There is depth, power, and splendor, but mostly weariness and frustration that Harrison couldn’t devise a tighter story-frame for his bracing imaginative gifts.

Nouveau Weir
Book 2 in the Viriconium sequence. This is the volume where Harrison's influence & Mieville's, Vandermeer's debt is most clear. Both sequel and remix of The Pastel City, its many totems (swordsman, queen, dwarf, destruction) cast to different effect, its language baroque, even more world-weary, and strange.
'Tormenta de alas' es una novela más compleja que su predecesora, 'La Ciudad Pastel' (incluida en 'Caballeros de Viriconium'). La historia es más enrevesada, con una prosa barroca y recargada, por lo que hay que prestarle una atención completa a su lectura. Es como cuando se está montando un puzzle, que se comienza por las esquinas y el marco, encajando las piezas camino del centro y de su solución. Esta novela es así, se te van mostrando partes de la historia, que en un principio parecen no ten ...more
Roddy Williams
The belated sequel to ‘The Pastel City’ is a complex and sometimes impregnable novel, dense with metaphor and imagery, laced with an air of depression and futility.
tegeus-Cromis the warrior-poet is dead. It is eighty years since the War of The Two Queens, during which a large number of people of the Afternoon Cultures were ‘Reborn’ into the twilight of the world.
The Reborn, however, do not take easily to the Future and all have begun to suffer from a state of delusion plagued by visions and re
The ideas Harrison is trying to play with in this novel are subtler, trickier, and perhaps more interesting than those of the first novel. Unfortunately, this book fails to explore these succesfully. The first third of the book is wonderfully done: Harrison at his best, engaging the reader whilst simultaneously bewildering and disorientating them. After that, things start to slip away. Clever notions are introduced that demand slow and patient development, but are let down by hurried and garbled ...more
A flawed and messy masterpiece of science fantasy, alien invasion, and madness. Swords and sorcerers and lunar travelers swirled together in a story that is half apocalypse now and half war of the worlds. The writing is thick and curvy and confusing and sometimes amazing. It picks up the fractured and brooding world of the pastel city (prequel, more melodrama and less alien-ness. A little less.) and fills that land with more complex and real unrealities.
MJH's 'Pastel City' (1971) struck me as a somewhat more sophisticated take on Moorcock's late 60's/early 70's heroic fantasies. This is altogether different. From one POV it is extraordinary; poetic, seething with unctuous imagery. Conventional rythm does not obtain. No short phrases, but huge paragraphs which follow their own sensibilities; paranthetically delving into themselves and ultimately... are you hating this review? It's written in the style of the book, more or less. At the same time ...more
Otis Campbell
Everyday an' every night
I keep hoping it'll be all right,
Trying to leave the past behind,
Still looking for some peace of mind
Yeah, that was weird. In a good way, I think, but it does take some work from the reader, so be prepared.
I wanted to like it more than I did.

I understand the influence this book had on a lot of the writers usually classified as the New Weird. Parts of it really were great, but somehow reading it felt like a chore instead of, well, fun.

Just like the first book in the Viriconium series, I would have loved the book to spend more time in Viriconium itself.
A.E. Stueve
Whereas THE PASTEL CITY reads like a traditional sci-fi/fantasy quest story, A STORM OF WINGS is almost poetic in its meandering descriptions of horror. It is a nice balancing flavor to the first book in the VIRICONIUM series. I look forward to reading the third and getting a complete literary meal.
Maxwell Heath
This volume feels as if it is at a midpoint between a relatively normal fantasy novel of a quest to defeat a great evil and a philosophical meditation on memory and reality. As one or the other it would work, but as a gestalt of the two it fails to interest me.
Frank Chimkin
Read as part of 'Viriconium' omnibus. See 'In Viriconium' entry for edition information.
Absolutely among the most underrated fantasy works of all time.
Joshua Baber
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aka Gabriel King (with Jane Johnson)

Michael John Harrison was born in Rugby, Warwickshire in 1945 and now lives in London.
Harrison is stylistically an Imagist and his early work relies heavily on the use of strange juxtapositions characteristic of absurdism.

More about M. John Harrison...

Other Books in the Series

Viriconium (4 books)
  • The Pastel City
  • The Floating Gods
  • Viriconium Nights
Light (Empty Space Trilogy #1) Viriconium Nova Swing (Empty Space Trilogy #2) The Centauri Device The Pastel City

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“Some internal process held him rapt. He had begun, perhaps, to map the paths inside himself which led to the Past. This gave him an absentminded air, and an irritable one, as if by our presence we interrupted some private conversation--although had anyone suggested this he would have rejected it angrily. Attempting to live simultaneously in two worlds, he rode moodily ahead and seemed to see nothing--head bowed into rain, blood-red armour pulsing like a beacon. If it was madness then it was only the madness that has infected all his people since their Rebirth. They will learn in the end that the journey they long for is impossible, and accept the world as it is.” 0 likes
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