Published by Harper Voyager on May 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction
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The Vagrant is his name. He has no other.
Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape, carrying nothing but a kit-bag, a legendary sword and a baby. His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the sword, the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war.
But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.
I’m giving away a paperback copy of The Vagrant to an Australian resident (sorry internationals!). You can enter using the rafflecopter form below.
A man, travelling across the land with a singing sword, a goat and a newborn baby. Sounds like an interesting story, right? I’ll admit, I was drawn to this book by its cover. I’m not sure what I was expecting it to be like, but it is certainly one of the most unique books I’ve read in quite some time!
The story of this world is told in flashbacks to “eight years ago”, when a great demonic force travelled through a rift and defeated the forces of the Seraph Knights, guardians of the humans living there. The demons possessed the slain bodies of the human foes, creating and reanimating sewn- and riveted-together monstrosities with names such as “the Usurper” and “the Uncivil”. A taint is gradually spreading across the world, gradually turning living things into twisted beings. The Vagrant carries a sacred sword, one of the last hopes for saving the world.
The Vagrant himself is an enigmatic character. As a mute, he can only show and not tell, so the story moves along at pace for a good while solely relying on body language and described facial expressions. His interactions with his little baby are just adorable though, and any parent will find themselves chuckling over the all-too-familiar situations of baby carers everywhere. It’s such a strange juxtaposition in a fantasy novel though! I was worried early on, with the dark Gunslinger-like feel to the story that this would all be death and destruction. While there certainly was a fair about of violence and gore, there are also these light-hearted scenes between the baby and her Dada, or the goat and some unfortunate bird, for example. I felt the two extremes were a little too polar sometimes.
The sparse dialogue and sometimes impersonal narration give the story an almost dreamlike quality. It’s written to convey maximum detail but with minimum words. The apocalyptic and desolate Blasted Lands and its broken cities make an amazing and often heartbreaking setting for a journey, as we get to see the effects of the demonic invasion at close quarters. The Vagrant is such a kind-hearted good man that he can’t let anyone suffer, and his anguish at the thought of not helping people drives the story to some interesting places. It was so nice to see that in a story that could have been so dark, this last remaining Seraph Knight and his companions made it much lighter.
I was confused by the complexity of the story at times, especially the multiple factions of demons and their minions. I got the feeling that some people might be discouraged early on by the info-dump contained in the flashbacks. Also, the ending was quite sudden and I wasn’t sure what had actually been resolved. I’m not sure whether there is a sequel planned for this story but I certainly hope so! I was so sad when I reached the end and had to leave the Vagrant’s little family behind!
– An amazing world and story, beautifully told. Might be slightly too complicated and enigmatic for some, though!
Thanks to Harper Voyager Australia, I’m giving away one new paperback copy of The Vagrant to an Australian resident.
The giveaway will run until May 9 and the winner notified by email. Good luck!