Friday, July 15, 2016

Short Fiction Friday: The Ghoul King by Guy Haley

Hi, readers! Before I kick off this post I just want to take a minute to give another shout out to the fabulous job the folks over at Tor.com Publishing are doing. If you haven't checked out some of their work, you are seriously missing out! They've got a fantastic line of novellas - both ebook and print - as well as free shorts online. I love, love, love what they're doing and love being able to spread the word!

Quinn is back in this second installment of the Dreaming Cities series.

The story picks up in the aftermath of The Emperor's Railroad. After killing the angels' creation, Quinn's position as knight can't protect him.

A group of technophiles has set their sights on Quinn. Their interests make them a target for the angels in this time of limited technology and education, but their desire to learn outweighs any and all fear. And their leader, Rachel, has big plans. Plans that involve finding something only Quinn can help them with. They'll have to convince him to join them, but their first step - and challenge - is freeing him from the pit!

So Quinn has angered the angels and it lands him in a bit of trouble. Fortunately, Jaxon and his group are in need of Quinn's skill and have planned to free him from his predicament. Of course, again the story is told after the fact so we know that Jaxon has been caught and is being questioned by the angels' emissary. And we know the angels are looking for Quinn again.

Where our narrator in Quinn's previous adventure was a twelve-year-old boy, this time around our story is told by a grown man trained as a healer. Jaxon is an interesting character, one I assume we'll likely not be seeing again considering the way the series is being laid out. He's long known there's more knowledge available in the art of healing and medicine than the angels allow access to and is determined to find it. This aspect of the world, the control the angels exert over humans and the limitations put on education and such, become more clearer in this installment thanks to Jaxon himself.

We're also introduced to the ghouls in The Ghoul King. Differing from the undead of The Emperor's Railroad, the ghouls have conscious thought, communication, and the ability to plan. Which also means the ability to hunt as a pack. Bad news for Quinn, Rachel, Jaxon, and the others considering Rachel's plans include traveling directly into ghoul territory.

I love the limited viewpoint of the stories. We as the reader are given access to different information because of the different perspectives. Jaxon is older and more educated, he also remembers a time before the angels smashed everything to smithereens (though not a time before the angels). Abney was only twelve and had lived a fairly sheltered life up to the point where his story begins. Not only are they limited in what they can offer in terms of the world, but they're limited in what they can offer about Quinn and his situation. We all have to wait for him to reveal his own story!

The world of Haley's Dreaming Cities is awesome. Literally worthy of awe and fabulous in its imagining. When we entered the series in The Emperor's Railroad, we learned a bit about the war between the angels and the Emperor himself but very little about the angels. The Ghoul King introduces a few more key pieces of information about them and their workings, making the world that much more intriguing. As mentioned, I have a theory that does seem to be playing out somewhat. Only time and further reading will tell, though.

Rating: 4/5

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