Liviu's Reviews > The Half-Made World

The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman
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's review
Jul 15, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: 2010_release_read, genre-fantasy, read_2010, t_notable_books_2010
Read from July 15 to 22, 2010

The Half-Made World is quite a strange book. It is dark, dense and awesome, part steampunk, part magic, all within a wild-west kind of mythology

The world is divided between the settled East and the expanding into uncreation West. Some centuries ago the seemingly impassable mountains that formed the border of the settled world, opened and people started settling the lands beyond and in the process fixing them into reality.

However un-natural or supernatural things sprung out here and there, most notably spirits, demons and "magical" engines, while the local people of the "uncreation" who may be immortal and have magic are pushed farther and farther away, with the remnants enslaved.

The settled parts of the west consist of many independent lands but all live under the ever expanding shadow of the Line, a highly regimented industrial and well armed civilization of millions, led by the magical engines of above, currently 38 in number that span tens of thousands of miles of tracks; opposing them are the demon guns and their agents, also few - tens, maybe a hundred - in number, but who have extreme powers of endurance and who foment uprisings, rebellions and generally wreak havoc.

Some decades ago a "free republic" has risen led by a General who was rumored to have had a pact with one of the original natives and know how to use their magic; nevertheless after 40 years of flourishing, the Republic was finally crushed by the Line and after 10 more years of underground resistance, the General was rendered mad by a Line "noise bomb" in a kind of last stand and he was presumed dead.

However it is rumored that he is now a patient at an asylum on the farthest borders of the West with the uncreation, asylum that is neutral and under the protection of a spirit; a letter surfaces hinting of a powerful weapon the General may have been given by his native ally and both the Line and the Gun want it.

So effective but unruly Gun Agent Credmoor is sent to infiltrate the asylum, while a thousands strong - with guns, flying machines, poison gas, bombs, machine guns and the like - Line force is also dispatched to deal with the Asylum and their Spirit, with one sub-invigilator, grade 3 Lowry as one of their officers.

A lady psychiatrist from the far away settled cities of the East with a traumatic past of her own receives an invitation to join the Asylum staff - invitation actually addressed to her much older and recently deceased husband, but she figures out she would be gladly received too - and she engages on the long and harrowing journey with her sort of servant/protege, who is a relatively young man of her age, very strong but mentally challenged so to speak

And so it starts, with the three main characters above converging on the Asylum and then of course lots and lots of things happen.

While the ending has enough closure, the book reads like the start of duology at least and begs a sequel. All in all, a very powerful novel that confirms Felix Gilman as a master of the new weird fantastic
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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Craig You made me really want to read this one. Looking forward to it!

Liviu Craig wrote: "You made me really want to read this one. Looking forward to it!

I am a big fan of the author and this almost made my top 10 anticipated novels of 2010 - the list and the more general one with some 90-100 novels, updated as it goes are on FBC - just that at the time I had no idea what was about except for the title

I emailed Mr. Gilman last night and he graciously confirmed that indeed there is a second book which is now being completed and is scheduled for 2011

Craig Cool! You also did a fabulous review of Beth Bernobich's "Handful of Pearls," which I worked on. I have a couple of other books (work for Lethe Press) that I'd like to send on, from Tanith Lee and Sandra McDonald, for review. Who would I send them to, to be reviewed. Thanks again!

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