A superb work of literary fantasy. In a truly original imagined world of breathtaking, sometimes surreal beauty, fifty utterly alien but disarmingly human immortals lead mankind in a centuries-long war.
Jant is the Messenger, one of the Circle, a cadre of fifty immortals who serve the Emperor. He is the only immortal - indeed the only man alive - who can fly.
The Emperor must protect mankind from the hordes of giant Insects who have plagued the land for centuries, eating everything and everyone in their path. But he must also contend with the rivalries and petty squabblings of his chosen immortals. These will will soon spill over into civil war.
Steph Swainston has written an astonishingly original literary fantasy. She writes beautifully. Her novel places her in a tradition of writing typified by Mervyn Peake, M. John Harrison and China Miéville. This is a breathtaking debut novel of the finest quality.
Fifteen years after the last devastating Insect attack, the immortal Circle is finally ready to launch an offensive against their implacable enemies. This time they have a new weapon - gunpowder. Hopes are high.
But the Circle's plans are threatened when the vital barrels of gunpowder go missing. Jant, the Circle's winged messenger, is tasked to investigate. Soon it becomes clear that the theft is part of a deadly conspiracy . . . and Jant and his friends are among the targets.
As tensions rise, Jant races to foil the conspirators. Can he expose them in time - or will the crisis blow the Fourlands apart?
This is Jant Shira's life before the drugs took over, as a hunter in the mountains. Awian exiles are building a stronghold in the Darkling mountains, where the Rhydanne hunt. Their clash of interests soon leads to bloodshed and Shira Dellin, a Rhydanne huntress, appeals to the immortal Circle for justice. The Emperor sends Jant, half-Rhydanne, half-Awian, and all-confidence, to mediate.
As Jant is drawn into the spiralling violence he is shaken into coming to terms with his own heritage and his feelings for the alien, intoxicating Dellin.
ABOVE THE SNOWLINE tells the story of Jant's early years in the Circle and shows the Fourlands as you've never seen them before.
Jant, the emperor's drug-addicted messanger, the only man who can fly, tells the story of mankinds savage fight for survival in a uniquely imagined, beautiful fantasy world.