Title: The Vagrant
Author: Peter Newman
Publication Date: 27th April 2015
Rating: 3/5 stars
Thanks to HarperVoyager for sending me this book to review!
THE VAGRANT IS HIS NAME. HE HAS NO OTHER.
Years have passed since humanity’s destruction emerged from the Breach.
Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape.
As each day passes the world tumbles further into depravity, bent and twisted by the new order, corrupted by the Usurper, the enemy, and his infernal horde.
His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war.
What little hope remains is dying. Abandoned by its leader, The Seven, and its heroes, The Seraph Knights, the last defences of a once great civilisation are crumbling into dust.
But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.
I really really wanted to give this book a better rating, but it just didn’t live up to my expectations. The blurb makes the book sound amazing and the characters were absolutely brilliant! Unfortunately the world-building just didn’t quite hit the spot. A more technologically sophisticated world than ours has been overrun by demonic forces, the Uncivil and the Usurper (there are more, but that part confused me….) Occasionally we are treated to their perspective too. These sections are unusual – the wording is strange but enhances the weirdness of these beings.
The title character, the Vagrant, is mute. That point was the catalyst for my decision to read this book – I was totally intrigued by how Newman would develop the character without giving the reader insight into his thoughts. The Vagrant is on a pilgrimage to the Shining City, taking a baby, a goat and a singing sword with him. Newman’s ability to manipulate emotion in these characters without voices is astounding.
Later they are joined by a young man named Harm, who can somehow understand what the Vagrant wants and means. The relationship between the two men and the baby was brilliant – I loved the scenes where the baby was learning and the men encouraging it. The goat is also really funny – there are sections from her perspective, which offer a light-hearted touch to a pretty dark world.
Another character I really loved was The Hammer that Walks, a half-demon (or an infernal) whose purpose is to kill and destroy. However, at heart she is a little girl and together Harm and to a lesser extent the Vagrant manage to bring that side of her out. It was a really cute side-story, raising questions about what makes humanity.
My biggest problem with the story was the lack of world-building. Those of you who follow my blog regularly will know that I get very caught up in the history and intricacies an author introduces to their fantasy world. While there were chapters set in the past, attempting to depict what happened to the world, I never really had a handle on things. I was always very confused about where the characters were and why the world was the way it was. Newman definitely tried to rectify this with the historical chapters and the demonic perspectives, but I still felt mostly lost. The world just felt one-dimensional, as though it were an unimportant part of the story.
The story definitely does get better the further in you get, as you slowly start to understand the world. However, it is a lengthy process. While this has not been a favourite for the year, I will be keeping an eye out for Peter Newman’s future works. He definitely has the foundations of a great fantasy author – I just wish I knew more about the world he has created! It left me feeling frustrated! People who prefer a stronger focus on the character and are less mindful of the world will really enjoy this book – the characters are truly brilliant.