Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
–The Second Coming, William Butler Yeats
First, thank you to Curiosity Quills for the review copy.
So, one fine day in 1882, Ignatius L. Donnelly’s book ‘Atlantis: The Antediluvian World‘ was published. It was hailed as a great work of history, and garnered praise from such notables as the Prince of Wales. It is an interesting theory. And wholly unconnected to this book, except to show that Atlantis has been an object of literary fascination more or less continually since Plato.
Gyre, on the other hand, takes a far more ‘throw at wall, see what sticks’ approach. Usually, this all but ensures a bad read. But here, it works – and works well. The basic plot mixes science fiction and fantasy, with some techno-thriller, romance, and mysticism. Maybe more, I lost count there actually. The storyline is simple and clean – Atlantis and Lemuria are at war, and have to collect ‘link pieces’, which enable time travel, in order to wipe each other out. Oh, there is some serious Romeo/Juliet vibe too. Enter Chelsea, a musician who discovered she can teleport – or teleport into a secret research submarine with Lemuiran agents on board; Trevor, an engineer of Lemurian descent, and various humans, and you have a nice read on hand.
I liked the fact that we got a character who needed the expository narration, thus providing it for the reader who is, of course, new to the whole world. That is something that is not always provided, and in any book where things are not just like they are in the real world, it can be needed. By providing a character needing the same explanations as the audience, Jessica Gunn has avoided a common pitfall for authors – both new and experienced.
Despite that, there are some points where things are too confusing, and some rereading may be needed. The pacing was also all over the place, with parts dragging (briefly) before switching into hyperdrive leaving the previous section behind in a blur of red shifted letters.
Do not let this scare you off – the simple reality is that Gyre is an excellent novel, with lots of places still to go, and a solid foundation to build on.