Fantasy Review: ‘The Revolutions’ by Felix Gilman

The RevolutionsBit of a disappointment here. Shame because Gilman is an author I consider must read at this point, but thus I am shown the folly of high expectations.

The Half-Made World is one of my favorite reads of the last few years and I enjoyed its sequel almost as much.   Thunderer is a book I need to read again; it was one of the first books to show me that fantasy can be just as challenging as other genres. Gilman’s works have a certain style that runs true through each of his works: a better than average prose, big ideas, and a refusal to answer all the questions a reader will have. The Revolutions continues this.

What The Revolutions didn’t do, that Gilman’s previous works did, was keep my attention in the second half. This is an author that is already going to infuriate some readers by writing in a style that “doesn’t go anywhere,” but I have always been sucked in to his ideas and let that carry me through the slower areas. But there was an irony here in that I was highly interested for the first half of the book; all set up and laying out of ideas with almost no payoff. But I quickly lost interest in the second half as we actually starting seeing the action and worked toward a climax. I just didn’t care.

A book of big ideas, two lovers possible tied by fate find themselves separated by strange work patterns. Perhaps a steampunk feel but without all the trimmings. A lot of things that look like magic but are really a mess of pseudo-science complete with the people who have various levels of tolerance toward the clearly mythical.

It all came together with a very Gilman ending; enough loose ends that one can’t be completely sure what they just read. I typically am fine with this style of ending but for some reason was hoping for a bit more payoff with this book; anything to make the previous hundred pages or so worthwhile. No luck.

Read Thunderer for a challenge and to see a world where magic keeps its sense of wonder and the possibility of mayhem. Read The Half-Made World for the best fantasy-western combo I have seen, or at the very least because you simply must know what The Gun and The Line are all about. Then if you love them please read The Revolutions and tell me what the hell I am missing.

3 Stars, all earned in the first half of this tale.

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