The Year of Our War (Castle Series #1) - Steph Swainston7.60

Locus Award nominee 2005, Tähtifantasia Award nominee 2011.

Unique among his fellow immortals and mortal folk alike, Jant Comet can fly. His talent is a gift and a curse that has earned him a place in the Castle Circle as Messenger to the Emperor San – soaring high and free above the bloody battlefields of his world, carrying word back to his master of progress and regress in the ever-escalating conflict between man and the awful armies of giant, flesh-devouring insects.

But while Jant's duty is to remain neutral in the petty squabbles and power plays of the fifty who will neither age nor die naturally, bitter rivalries that have festered for centuries now threaten to incite a savage civil war. And Jant may be the only being alive capable of stemming the onrushing tide of destruction and the unstoppable insect infestation. For only he can gain entrance – through extreme doses of the narcotic that owns his soul – into a place of darkest wonders and revelations; a strange and horrific alternate reality that none but Jant Comet believes exists.

A literary triumph of the first water – bold, stylish, and breathtakingly original – Steph Swainston's The Year of Our War ascends like a rocket to the upper reaches of the imagination and loudly heralds the arrival of a true modern master of the fantastic.

“Thoughtful, exuberant, incredibly inventive, funny but never whimsical or mannered: a blistering debut, and honest-to-God unputdownable.” - China Miéville

"A fascinating first novel, bristling up out of the fantasy flowerbed in sharp spined poisonously beautiful bloom. It has finely drawn characters, dialogue that crackles with humour and humanity, and a rich vein of imagery that veers with consummate ease between the wry, baroque of Angela Carter and the austere weirdness of M. John Harrison. Steph Swainston has cooked up a heady fix that will set the whole genre reeling. All hail the new queen of Weird Fiction!" - Richard Morgan

"A great first novel, boldly imagined, coloured with impressive flourish. Fallible characters, unexplained cosmology, no quarter given to the lengthy infodump and no hanging on to the death to tired old structures - terrific. Fantasy that breaks out of the elvish straitjacket and takes over the asylum - essential reading for anyone who wants their imagination to soar." - Justin Robson

“Vibrant, colourful, tirelessly inventive and effortlessly weird, Stephanie Swainston has thrown the map away.” - M. John Harrison

Rate this book

Release date: April 2004
Genres: fantasy
Tags: new weird
Average rating: 7.60/10
Total ratings: 61
Updated: August 21, 2021

Castle Series :: Series

Also known as Fourlands series.

The Castle Omnibus9.00
Turning Point
The Year of Our War (Castle Series #1)7.60
No Present Like Time (Castle Series #2)7.74
The Modern World (Castle Series #3)8.24
Above the Snowline (Castle Series #4)8.50
Fair Rebel (Castle Series #5)


10/10 |
September 02, 2007
Jant is one of the best characters ever. Right in the same league with Robin Hobb's Fitz and Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan. He is so real with his flaws that you can't help liking him. And the rest of the book - oh, it's good too. Recommended.