Gears of the City
Bantam, Jan 2009, $24.00
Arjun is lost as he wanders the dark gloomy city Ararat that he does not recognize. He is weary and a bit frightened because his amnesia is so deep he cannot recall his name. He feels like a forlorn ghost being hunted by brutal hollow men. Only because of his rescuers the Low Sisters and the words of a prophesy does he use the moniker Arjun, which feels right so he assumes is his real name though he cannot be sure.
He does believe he is on a quest as he volunteers to find his hosts’ missing third sister trapped by a ghost like him inside the ominous Mountain palace; he also thinks that someone is trying to prevent him from succeeding on his mission by stealing his memory. Arjun feels he must gain access to the nearby Mountain that rises above the city, but he has not been able to break free as if the stronghold repels his efforts though he knows it is more physical with traps than metaphysical. If he fails on his quest Arjun assumes the Mountain will spread the darkness through all space and time; only he can prevent the engulfing of his world.
This is a superb strange science fiction thriller that hints at paranormal elements with the ethereal sinister Mountain casting an evil shadow on the city and its residents. Fans will wonder whether the Mountain is advanced technology or otherworldly as Arjun goes about his quest. He is a solid character even with no memory while the Low Sisters are developed enough to enhance the mystery of the Mountain in the key role of menacing antagonist with what the palace apparently has done to Ararat including Arjun. Fans will enjoy this brooding portentous quest thriller as Felix Gilman keeps the audience engaged wondering what is the Mountain.