Kingston to Cable by Gary Greenwood
Justice seeks a Stranger.
In the Land of magic and shotguns, where Gods pit themselves against each other and man, Strangers are a breed apart – loners, angels, demons – who walk into the towns of Natives, taking what they want.
A Native named Justice is pushed to far by a Stranger, and embarks on a quest to the furthest reaches of the Land, from the Frontiers to the Funeral Wastes; the Sudducee Plains to the Mainland Kingdoms.
His journey will drag others along in it’s wake and will take him to death and beyond.
And all the while, the Gods watch and plan …
Fourteen years have passed since Gary Greenwood, first crossed my path. It was a chance meeting, back in the good old days when the local Waterstones had a book buyer that took chances, and stocked books that weren’t sure fire best sellers. On the same day that I picked up Gary’s début novel The Dreaming Pool, I also picked up the début novel Mesmer, by Tim Lebbon. It was a good day, a very good day in fact, discovering two talented authors in one day is a great thing. In those intervening years, Tim carved his name in the genre with vigour, while Gary has sadly remained much more low key.
Kingston To Cable is, to my knowledge, only the fifth book published by him. This book mixes the genres of fantasy, Science Fiction, Lovecraftian Horror, and the Western genres. It may sound like a horrible mix match, that cannot decide what it wants to be, but don’t worry folks this novel works wonderfully. Greenwood combines all of these genres to create a dream like world, where magic coexists with bullets, and Gods walk the lands. The story is told from a number of view points, with the narrative shifting from first person to third person, it could get confusing, but thankfully the narrative stays as one coherent piece, with each chapter of the novel, pushing the story along to it’s climax.
Like all good Westerns, Kingston To Cable starts with a Stranger making his way into town. Yes it’s clichéd, but who cares. It’s when the second stranger turns up in town, that things start to heat up, so much so it leads to the creation of another Stranger, yes, that’s Stranger with a capital S. In this world Strangers are drifters who travel from settlement to settlement, some are benevolent, others are evil, but all treat the locals with a cold sense of disregard. They are a warrior breed, all use guns, some also use magic. The Strangers are a great twist on an old staple.
If there is a weakness to the book, its the world of Kingston and Cable, it could have done with a stronger sense of identity, at one point we have a God dressed as a jester working behind the scenes moving his chess pieces into place, to having a gun fight in that wouldn’t be out of place in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. It’s a minor point but, it does change the tone of the book slightly. And any novel that litters it’s text with refrences to the late, great Ronnie James Dio, gets super bonus points, you will hear about The Man On The Silver and Rainbows in The Dark among others. This really was a nice touch.
Overall, this is a brilliant novel, well told, thought provoking at times, with a great sense of vision and imagination, let down ever so slightly by a little case of identity crisis. The last time a read a novel that mixed genres similar to those here, that was this good was David Gemmell’s The Jerusalem Man, yes this book is that good.
On a final note, for those of you that read this review, if you know where Gary Greenwood lives, can you please knock on his door and tell him to get his finger out, I don’t like having to wait this long to read the next Gary Greenwood novel.