Queen of Clouds
Queen of Clouds is a sumptuous fantasy from the mind of Glasgow-based author and musician Neil Williamson. Neil's debut novel The Moon King was described by Jeff VanderMeer as "one of the best debuts of this or any other year" and went on to be shortlisted for both the BSFA Award and British Fantasy Award for best novel.
This, the author's second novel, is just as rich and even more compelling, with a plot that features ambition, treachery, deceit, jeopardy, tragedy and hope, not to mention love and magic...
Billy Braid has been raised in an idyllic mountain backwater, aiding Master Kim to craft strangely sentient sylvans from carefully cultivated trees. Then the outside world impinges, and Billy is tasked with delivering a sylvan to the Sunshine City of Karpentine. Upon his arrival, Billy falls in with a young Weathermaker, Paraphernalia, who proves to be fascinating and infuriating in equal measure. But all is not well in the Sunshine City, and Billy is soon embroiled in Machiavellian intrigues he is ill-equipped to deal with, as the city's ruling Guilds – the Constructors, Inksmiths, Weathermakers and more – jostle for status and power, seeing him as the key.
Billy gets co-opted by the Weathermakers who have troubles of their own. The weather is behaving badly. Can Billy help Paraphernalia, heir to the Queen of Clouds, understand what is happening and restore order to the Sunshine City? And if this strange new phenomenon gets out of control, will it usher in a new chapter for humankind... or the end of everything.
Queen of Clouds is a delight; a fast-paced tale set in a richly imagined world. Wooden automata, sentient weather, talking cats, compellant inks, a tower of hands built from the casts provided by the city's many visitors, and a host of vividly realised characters provide the backdrop as the drama rushes to its stunning climax.
“A truly unique and powerful work, intricate and ingenious.” – Adrian Tchaikovsky
“Superb characterization and fascinating worldbuilding. There’s plenty to enjoy.” – Publishers Weekly
“A book with a lot of charm. Queen of Clouds brings together a resourceful protagonist, a pacey narrative, and a lovingly imagined setting. Moving between a mountainous forest and a teeming and fantastical city, the book's feel is part adult fairy tale, part steampunk, with a dash of satire thrown in.” – Chris Beckett
“The best fantasy I’ve read in a long time, written with a deep love of language and a quirky inventiveness that charms and fascinates in equal measure. Highly recommended.” – Keith Brooke, Philip K. Dick Award shortlisted author
“The whole book can be seen as an allegory of the power of the printed word... Think Soylent Green, but with ink instead of food.” – ParSec Magazine
Neil Williamson was born in Motherwell, Scotland. He is a resident of Glasgow.
His books include: The Moon King (runner-up for the BSFA award and finalist for the British Fantasy Society Robert Holdstrock award), Queen Of Clouds; short story collections, The Ephemera and Secret Language (both finalists for the British Fantasy Award); anthologies, Nova Scotia: New Scottish Speculative Fiction (finalist for the World Fantasy Award) and Thirty Years of Rain; and a novella, The Memoirist.