The Grand Dark

The Grand Dark

From the bestselling author of the Sandman Slim series, a lush, dark, stand-alone fantasy built off the insurgent tradition of China Mieville and M. John Harrison—a subversive tale that immerses us in a world where the extremes of bleakness and beauty exist together in dangerous harmony in a city on the edge of civility and chaos.The Great War is over. The city of Lower Pr...

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Title:The Grand Dark
Author:Richard Kadrey
Rating:

The Grand Dark Reviews

  • Dave

    Kadrey's The Grand Dark is an expedition into a world of fantasy very different from sword-battling rascals and pirate conquests. Think more Kafka meets Orwell meets Germanic Steampunk. First, of all, the world created in this novel is at once sort of familiar, but in other respects, unique, different, odd. The setting is dreary, coal-fired smoke-filled, war-ruined City of Lower Proszawa following a Great War that left Upper Proszawa a world of desolation, ruin, and plague.

    The place names and w

    Kadrey's The Grand Dark is an expedition into a world of fantasy very different from sword-battling rascals and pirate conquests. Think more Kafka meets Orwell meets Germanic Steampunk. First, of all, the world created in this novel is at once sort of familiar, but in other respects, unique, different, odd. The setting is dreary, coal-fired smoke-filled, war-ruined City of Lower Proszawa following a Great War that left Upper Proszawa a world of desolation, ruin, and plague.

    The place names and words used to describe things feel German, or at least Eastern European. The setting is a city after a huge war struggling to recover and filled with theaters, actors, dancing, parties, and drugs. It feels like the decadence of Weimar Germany after the First World War, but it is not, despite the U-boats. It is someplace in Kadrey's wild imagination. It is also a city that operates like a police state with secret informers everywhere, a ragtag band of revolutionaries, and proletariats everywhere. Drabness, uniformity, and fear are spread like a cancer. And, there's plague brought back from the war and veterans from the war so scarred that they wear masks and parade through the streets.

    Kadrey doesn't exactly give a full exposition of the world he creates and allows the reader to slowly grasp it as the layers of the onion are each pulled back. And, perhaps that is why, rather than have the main protagonist be the greatest swordsman of two worlds or a swashbuckling .007, it's a lowly bike messenger who is half the time hopped on Morphia, late for his own funeral, and without a care for anything beyond his own daily life which includes cavorting with famed actress Remy and her happy-dappy thespian friends at crazy parties at which costumes, cocaine, and morphia are everywhere.

    And, this world also includes Maras, the German word for nightmares, which are automatons that carry things across the city and work in factories and as maids and butlers.

    As fascinating as this whole world is, the key to this novel is that you are not sucked into a great adventure at the start, but the bike messenger's petty little world, his promotion to the chief courier, his plodding through bad neighborhoods, and his sweet romance with Remy. You wonder at first where this is going and whether the plot will ever thicken. Just be confident that you are slowly being swept into this gray world and many things may not turn out to be what you think or characters who you think they are.

  • Sh3lly (GrumpyBookGrrrl.com)

    Review also found at:

    Buddy read with the

    starting June 11, 2019.

    Release date: June 11, 2019 by Harper Voyager. Gorgeous cover alert!

    Largo is a bicycle messenger who delivers parcels to people all over the city, whether they are in the slums or live in a wealthy area. His girlfriend, Remy, is a performer in a theater called The Grand Dark. Largo and Remy hang out with artistic people at parties, do drugs, make love, live hard and fast like the yout

    Review also found at:

    Buddy read with the

    starting June 11, 2019.

    Release date: June 11, 2019 by Harper Voyager. Gorgeous cover alert!

    Largo is a bicycle messenger who delivers parcels to people all over the city, whether they are in the slums or live in a wealthy area. His girlfriend, Remy, is a performer in a theater called The Grand Dark. Largo and Remy hang out with artistic people at parties, do drugs, make love, live hard and fast like the youth.

    The setting is a post-war dystopian steampunk world that I believe is based off Germany and/or Russia? There are automatons, some people have prosthetic mechanical limbs, there are chimeras, and psychic mediums.

    I respect that the author tried for something very different here compared to the Sandman Slim and Coop heist books. This one is more serious and not as madcap and witty. This is my third Kadrey book, and I am a newbie Sandman fan (only read the first). This is a dark, repressed, fearful world where any misstep can get you in trouble with the police or the secret police.

    Largo is an unwitting participant in almost all areas of his life. He is a nice guy, but gets taken advantage of. He ends up getting involved in several different groups. I really liked the characters of Anita, who plays a rebellious artist/dancer/performer and Rainer, Largo’s disfigured soldier friend.

    I’ll be honest, while I enjoyed this, I felt it took a bit long to get to the meat (action) of the story. There is a significant amount of drug use in this story, which, considering the depressed and bullied society, it makes sense. Largo does grow a lot and overcome many obstacles. Sometimes, I just felt so sorry for the guy because he couldn’t catch a break. But, he does stop being a doormat!

    Thank you to Netgalley and publisher for providing a digital eARC to read and review.

  • Kristen Burns

    *I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley & Edelweiss. This has not influenced my review.*

    This was one of those books that had a low thrum of tension throughout the whole thing, that feeling that things were weird and wrong even though you didn’t yet know what. But since I didn’t really know what the plot was working toward, I didn’t have this sense of things building, and the book felt slow for about the first 2/3. The beginning of the book also seemed to be more world-b

    *I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley & Edelweiss. This has not influenced my review.*

    This was one of those books that had a low thrum of tension throughout the whole thing, that feeling that things were weird and wrong even though you didn’t yet know what. But since I didn’t really know what the plot was working toward, I didn’t have this sense of things building, and the book felt slow for about the first 2/3. The beginning of the book also seemed to be more world-building and descriptions of settings than plot, and the articles and things that were between chapters sometimes only slowed the pace more. That being said, once things did really start building and take off around the last third, they got pretty twisty and complex.

    Largo’s characterization was really well done though. He was so flawed, yet also a character I sympathized with. He had dreams, but he just kind of settled with his life as it was. He had a pretty dead-end job and a crappy apartment, and he spent most of his free time and money on drugs, including one called morphia that he was addicted to. Largo didn’t always make great decisions in life, but he had a good heart. He cared about others. He wasn’t as judgmental as many people around him were. And when he came across an opportunity to better himself and maybe one day achieve his dreams, he jumped on it. He also realized some things about himself and changed throughout the story. The supporting characters felt believable too, even if they weren’t explored as much. This book also did a great job showing how situations and lives and people can spiral down or out of control.

    I’m not sure if this is considered sci-fi or fantasy or some combo of the two. Personally I’d say it’s kind of dystopian. It’s got robotic technology and government conspiracies and plague and strange creatures made with eugenics all set in a darkly decadent and vice-ridden city.

    I struggled with what rating to give this book because it wasn’t a bad book, but it still wasn’t quite right for me. I struggled with all the description and with not knowing where the plot was going, but the characterization of the main character was strong and there was a lot of complexity put into the story, and I think some readers will really enjoy this!

    Anyone who likes flawed characters, detailed world-building, lots of mystery and tension, and a slow-building plot.

  • Chelsea Humphrey

    Calling this a DNF @ page 97. The cover is gorgeous, and the idea is really clever and intriguing, but I found the pacing to be far too slow, and I see I'm not the only early reviewer to feel this way so far. I think this will be a great book for the right reader, and I hope those looking for a slow burning stand-alone adult fantasy will give

    a try for themselves.

  • Diana

    The premise sounded so great I wanted to enjoy this book, but I found out I couldn't care less for the characters or how the story moved. The pace of it was off for me, but I can't quite put my finger on "why". I just felt lost inside the story, like I was missing a bit more of world building or situating myself inside the story, but neither it or the characters caught my interest.

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