Tim Lebbon,
After the War
(Subterranean Press, 2008)

Two short, dark and grim tales of Tim Lebbon's Cataclysmic War cycle set in Noreela: "Vale of Blood Roses" is the story of a mercenary's journey back home and the valley he discovers filled with a strange group of post-apocalyptic survivors, and "The Bujuman" tells the tale of Korrin, a hunter alone and outcast, in his battle to stay alive after a great plague.

Continuing to explore Noreela City from his 2006 and 2007 novels Dusk and Dawn, Lebbon himself calls these stories noir fantasy. He became intrigued with describing the history of his imaginary world. As he writes, "this was not only a place I could visit again and again, but a place I wanted to return to."

Lebbon has a vivid and gory imagination. Both stories are loaded with gruesome sights (especially in noir fiction, apocalypse is not pretty) and the writing is sharp and quick as a knifeblade. Both of these tales read like quick sketches for a longer work-in-progress -- Lebbon mentions writing these while preparing for his latest Noreela novel, Fallen. He doesn't seem to let his manuscripts get dusty sitting on the shelf.

The reader won't need a deep knowledge of the Noreela novels but After the War might whet your appetite for learning about the history of Ventgorians, the Poison Forest and the Violet Dogs. If that's the case you can visit his website and discover that when Lebbon isn't writing, he's dreaming up a whole other world and putting it online. There's no doubt more to come in the Noreela saga -- best choose your weapon now.

[ visit the author's website ]

review by
Mark Bromberg

2 February 2008

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