Sunday, 27 January 2013
The Aylesford Skull by James P. Blaylock Review
Crime, Supernatural, Mystery
Langdon St Ives comes face to face with his arch enemy Ignacio Narbondo.
It is the summer of 1883 and Professor Langdon St Ives, the brilliant but eccentric scientist and explorer, is at home in Aylesford with his family.
However a few miles to the North a steam launch has been taken by pirates above Egypt bay, the crew murdered and pitched overboard.
In Aylesford itself, a grave is opened and possibly robbed of it's skull. The suspected grave robber is none other than the infamous Dr. Ignacio Narbondo, an old enemy of St Ives.
When Narbondo reappears to kidnap St Ives four year old son, Eddie, St Ives has to race against time with his factotum, Hasbro, to get to London and stop Narbondo before it's too late.
'The Aylesford Skull' is James P. Blaylock's first foray in the steampunk world for other 20 years but was it worth the wait?
The short answer is a massively resounding yes!
The return of Langdon St Ives is a very welcome one. Take equal parts Sherlock Holmes and mix in inventions and a bit of a mad scientist personality and you have the perfect picture of St Ives.
In 'The Aylesford Skull' there are many stories all running together to make one brilliantly layered tale that absolutely gripped me from the very beginning of the story right up to the shocking ending. The battle between Narbondo and Langdon is superb. All through the novel, the battle of wits between the two characters really reminds me of the classic mental battles between Holmes and Moriarty yet with Blaylock's own unique take on things.
Blaylock's masterful use of the settings to create a dark and forboding spectre over proceedings really add a completely different dimension to the novel. It's almost as if you are actually there watching the story unfold, watching the characters going about their business and even, at points, feeling so involved in the story that you feel like you are actually a part of it.
The characters are fully realised and even after 20 years, coming back to these characters is like slipping in to a comfy pair of slippers. It's honestly like the characters haven't been away at all.
They're all fully realised and even the bit part players all have their separate personalities and quirks, which really adds to the quality of the story. The reader really does care about all the characters and all the things that happen to them through out the adventure.
Blaylock's way of describing the various gadgets and inventions is positively gleeful. It's as if he takes delight in using some of the most magical inventions from the time period that he possibly. However, unlike certain other writers in the genre, he chooses the exact right time to use each one without overloading the reader.
Personally I think this is already a contender for one of the best books of 2013. Exciting, action packed and full of memorable characters, this is most definitely a welcome return by one of the most famous and legendary figures in the genre.
This article was posted as part of the Aylesford Skull Swashbuckling Blog Tour celebrating the release of James P. Blaylock's first full-length Steam Punk novel in twenty years [The Aylesford Skull, Titan Books, £7.99]. For the opportunity to win a limited edition of The Aylesford Skull in a jacketed, signed hardcover with a unique jacket design, just tweet "I would like a limited edition of The Aylesford Skull @TitanBooks #Blaylock".
Details about The Limited Edition (available Feb 2013)
750 Signed and Numbered Editions:
Jacketed, cloth bound hardcover with ribbon
Signed by James P. Blaylock
Exclusive foreword by K.W. Jeter and introduction by Tim Powers
26 Signed and Lettered Editions:
As aboved encased in a custom made traycase
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