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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly creative and dark steampunk fantasy adventure
I got an advanced reading copy of this book through NetGalley.com. The premise was very intriguing and I was excited to read the book. It was an incredibly creative world, that followed some interesting characters through a dark steampunk adventure. This book is the first in a series called The Nightbound Lands.

Margaret is the daughter of some famous...
Published on August 30, 2011 by K. Eckert

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review from [...]
The concept behind this book is a fascinating one, in which darkness is slowly taking over the world and transforming everything within it to something foul and violent and, in some places, genuinely creepy. The dead walk. Tiny moths flutter in your eyes and mouth and take over your brain so that you become a sentient extension of the Roil itself. And the shrinking...
Published on October 11, 2011 by Ria (Bibliotropic)


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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Incredibly creative and dark steampunk fantasy adventure, August 30, 2011
This review is from: Roil (The Nightbound Land) (Mass Market Paperback)
I got an advanced reading copy of this book through NetGalley.com. The premise was very intriguing and I was excited to read the book. It was an incredibly creative world, that followed some interesting characters through a dark steampunk adventure. This book is the first in a series called The Nightbound Lands.

Margaret is the daughter of some famous scientists, when her home town falls to the Roil she is forced to flee through the Roil and try to find a way to help stop the Roil's expansion. David is a drug addict who is on the run from political enemies of his father; he meets up with an Old Man named Cadell and is suddenly forced to follow the Old Man into battles he doesn't want to be part of and into more danger than he can bear. All of the characters are fighting to survive the spread of the Roil which is expanding at increased speed.

Jamieson has created an incredibly interesting and complex world in this book. It is one of the most interesting worlds I have ever read about. The world is being taken over by the Roil; think of it kind of as The Nothing in The Neverending Story, but rather than being full of nothing it is a huge hot darkness full of nightmarish creatures. The surviving world is grouped into metropolises that survive by fighting with cold weapons and technology. The story has a steampunk overtone at times; Margaret's city runs off of steam powered things and there are dirigibles.

In this incredibly complex world is, of course, complex politics. You have the group that David's father belongs to which seem to be working with the four thousand year old, Old Man...kind of. You have the Vergers and the Drifters all trying to survive and reign supreme. There are also the Cuttlefolk, who aren't quite human, and then of course all the horrible creatures that exist within the Roil.

As if that isn't enough there is a grand engine running the whole world, dirigibles, and the mysterious Vastkind that pop up here and there in the story.

Then there are the characters. Margaret and David are both interesting to read about; the beginning the book follows their adventures separately. These are the type of characters you won't necessarily love or connect with on an emotional level (they have their low selfish moments as well as their heroic moments) but they are interesting to read about and follow. You also read the story from a number of other different viewpoints; both Medicine Paul and the Old Man tell significant portions of the story. I am not a huge fan of having such a multitude of viewpoints because it breaks up the story and makes things a bit confusing at first.

I was a little disappointed in the ending because everything was just finally set up and the characters were finally fighting together and then the book just ended. I didn't realize this was part of a series, and I was a little bummed that I couldn't read how everything would play out. This is a very complicated story and I felt like by the time I got everything sorted out and was actually beginning to understand this world well...the story was over.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. The author builds an incredibly interesting world. There is a lot of action, some adventure, and some politics. I loved the idea of the Roil and the mystery that surrounds it. The characters weren't the strong point of the story, but they were well done and provided a good vehicle for the plot. Some of the characters and creatures presented are extremely mysterious and I am eager to learn more about them. I was disappointed with how abruptly the story ended. So readers just beware that this is part of a series and nothing is really resolved in this first book. Fans of epic fantasy, or complicated dark fantasy adventures should enjoy this book. I would encourage steampunk fans to check it out too (although no romance here, so probably not a book for those who like romance in their steampunk). It is an incredibly creative and a very engaging read; I will definitely be checking out future books in this series.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Review from [...], October 11, 2011
By 
Ria (Bibliotropic) (Saint John, New Brunswick Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Roil (The Nightbound Land) (Mass Market Paperback)
The concept behind this book is a fascinating one, in which darkness is slowly taking over the world and transforming everything within it to something foul and violent and, in some places, genuinely creepy. The dead walk. Tiny moths flutter in your eyes and mouth and take over your brain so that you become a sentient extension of the Roil itself. And the shrinking pockets of humanity have to do their best to survive the Roil while also surviving all the other problems inherent with corrupt politicians and drugs and violence and all the other worldly vices.

A fascinating concept indeed. It's regretful, then, that I found this book falling short of what I saw as its initial potential.

This book mostly suffers from a lack of descriptive consistency. Some things are beautifully described, and there's no doubt of what characters are seeing, feeling, doing. Other things are glossed over. And I'm not talking about small things, either. The only clear picture I have of any of the Roil creatures is the Vermatisaur, and that thing appeared for about 5 pages. Things that appeared more often had brief descriptions of how they moved, how a part of their body looked, but nothing that could bring it all together in my mind.

The world of Shale and its history felt similarly. It felt like this was a book of hints, glimpses of some deeper story that could have made the whole thing so much richer if they'd actually been elaborated on and expanded instead of just glossed over and passed by. While reading this, I felt uncomfortably like I must have missed something. A previous book, some necessary prequel that would have clarified half of the finer details mentioned here. I felt like it was taken for granted that the readers would all be in the author's mind, knowing what he knew and thus there was n need for elaboration.

It didn't work that way. And I'm really sorry to see that, because as I said, the basic premise of the story was fine, and the kind of thing that you don't want to read alone once the sun's gone down. I don't suspect I'll be continuing on to the second book of the series after this rather inconsistent introduction.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you liked books 1 and 2 you will like number 3, October 24, 2011
I had mixed feelings when I saw that Orbit wasn't releasing the third book in Trent Jamieson's Death series as its own novel, but was combining all of the books into an omnibus edition of all three books in the series. While it does allow new readers a chance to get into the series in one fell swoop, it does certainly offer a disincentive (in both the price and the size, considering many followers of the series would most likely own the previous two books already). But after thinking it over this size/cost impediment is insignificant when compared with the benefit of getting to read and enjoy the final book in the series.

If you couldn't tell in all that preamble, I thoroughly enjoyed the Business of Death series. I felt like the first book, acted almost as a prequel, establishing the characters and the story. The second book in the series, is really where the tires meets the road (if the road was the plot in this example, and the tires are the excitement, meat, and pace of the story). Finally in the third installment, Jamieson does a fantastic job dealing with the issues of both the first and second books in the series, as well introducing some new twists and turns that really surprised me.

I mention all of this in vague details because since this omnibus contains the entire series, I'm a tad unsure what I should include so as to not ruin the story in later books for readers. What I can mention though is that if you enjoy action, creative and interesting characters (especially Mr. D and Wal), and a book jam packed with twists and sabotage then this is the book for you.

[...]
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bittersweet ending to the series, September 19, 2011
By 
This book actually contains all three volumes of the deathworks series Managing Death (Death Works)& Death Most Definite (Death Works) , but this is the only place you'll find volume three as it was not published independantly.

Steven de Selby is now the Orcus and the only Death of the land left. Unfortuntely, the Stirrer god is about to come to earth and his only potential ally- The Death of the Water - has been alienated unlikely to help unless Steven makes an apology of biblical proportions and unless Steven pulls his act together soon they may all be doomed.

Steven is still something of a looser in this book despite all his power and I would have to say I didn't enjoy this book quite as much as I did the second book in the series. It provides a bittersweet ending to the story and really brings the series to a close. In fact it's hard to see how there can be any sequels after this one even if you want one. If you've read books 1 & 2 I highly reccomend you get this book too.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From loser to hero, November 28, 2011
I have a special affection for The Death Works series. It was Trent's books that got me into this book reviewing gig. A fact for which my gratitude swings dependant on the books I get sent.

But seriously it's been a pleasure reading the series and getting to the end.

Clearing things up
--------------------

To clear up any confusion, the Death Works series was originally released as a trilogy, I reviewed the first two books earlier thisyear (Death most Definite and Managing Death).

Business of Death was to be the title of the third book. But to my knowledge it was never released as a single volume. Instead Orbit decided to release the third and final book in the series as part of a Omnibus edition(including the other two novels). Business of Death became the title for the Omnibus as well as the title of the third instalment.

The Story continues...
------------------------

At the end of Managing Death, Stephen De Selby ended up being the Orcus, the 13 Regional Managers in one. He held the Hungry Death within him and managed to finish off his nemesis Rillman. Now he hears the heartbeat of the world, feels each of the departed souls that his minions pomp.

But this is Stephen we are talking about and he's got that lackadaisical, "avoid the uncomfortable part of the job until the last minute" thing going. If he wasn't trying to avoid asking Lissa to marry him I fear nothing would get done.

But things need to be done, hell is beginning to freeze over, the Stirrer god is coming - now appearing in the sky as a blazing comet. If this wasn't enough he's pissed off the Death of the Water. To say things are looking bleak is an understatement.

Ultimately Stephen grows up and begins directing action rather than letting circumstance dictate it. It's a heroic ending and like all heroic endings infused with some tragedy.

What I enjoyed...
----------------------------

Stephen's growth as a character. From loser to reluctant participant to world saving demi god. I really did think he'd come of age be the end of the book. I also liked and was frustrated by his relationship with Lissa. I had to refrain from yelling at the character to just "ask her already".

I appreciated the subtle referencing and remixing of myth and legend- Charon building an Ark.There was a distinct impression that the events in the book had all happened before, that echoes had reverberated down through history. I felt centred me as a reader while still being treated to a fresh and original backdrop.

What I didn't...
--------------------

I didn't enjoy the ending, it was perfectly executed though. I just wanted it to end differently (an old romantic at heart). The ending is what made the story more dark/urban fantasy than paranormal for me.

Recommendations
--------------------

I heartily recommend the whole trilogy to anyone who wants to read some fast paced, original, Australian flavoured urban fantasy. I found the book to be visually enticing and think it would translate well to television. Jamieson manages to deliver something that is both mile-a-minute and morbidly evocative.

This copy was provided to me at no cost by the publisher.
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4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it., February 21, 2014
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This was a good solid read. I liked that all 3 books were together, though each could be read stand alone. Each book had a satisfying ending if you didn't want to read the next one. Not being from Australia, I did not recognize some of the places described, but I liked learning about them. I am looking forward to the next book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An incredibly entertaining novel., November 4, 2012
This review is from: Roil (The Nightbound Land) (Mass Market Paperback)
The Dark Bound Lands: Roil, written by Trent Jamieson, wonderfully creates a steampunk/fantasy hybrid setting in which the story plays out. The titular Roil is a vast, dark cloud which slowly encompasses the planet lying within its shadow, bringing with it hideous, fantastical monsters that act as soldiers for the Roil. To combat these monsters, soldiers use modified endothermic weaponry, instead of the standard exothermic used in the real world. "Name an engine that hasn't ruined us. I dare you. But of course you cannot. Our relationship with machines has always been...complicated." At first there are not too many scientific advances in this book, the initial antagonists in the beginning are armed with nothing but knives, but before long it starts throwing fairly unique concepts at the reader such as an entire city being air conditioned to defend against the Roil. Later, it introduces the concept of sentient aerial vehicles, somehow grown biologically, yet still in many ways working as a machine. However, technology is never the primary focus of Roil. The story follows the path of three characters who try and combat the threat to their planet: An opiate addicted teenager, a mysterious old man afflicted with longevity, and a young woman whose city has recently been destroyed by the Roil.
Trent Jamieson is a 39-year-old Australian writer of short stories and science fiction. He published his first short story in 1999 in Eidolon magazine, starting his career in science fiction and fantasy writing. He later went on to win two Aurealis awards, before publishing his first novel in 2010. Roil, released August 2011, is the first in The Nightbound Land duology, with the sequel, Night's Engines, released May of 2012. There is no evidence that his books are very popular, which is a pity. There are few places on the internet that share information about this series, besides random book reviews, the web-store Amazon, and the author's own website. If the quality of his one other book series, the Death Works Trilogy, is anywhere near that of Roil, I'm certain it is a wonderful series.
The novel opens quite chaotically. As with most fresh fantasy and science fiction stories, it prefers to throw you straight into the midst of the plot without a guidebook to help you along. Roil has its story, and it doesn't care if you have yet to hear or understand some terminology. However it is possible for the reader to come to terms with it fairly quickly. It also quickly establishes Jamieson's writing style, with such interesting phrasing such as "...its rotten limbs snap-crash-snapped under his weight." I've yet to read a science fiction book with such a loose hold on grammar and sentence structure, and it seems to fit perfectly with the gritty tone of the novel.
Roil possesses strong elements of an adult fiction work. Within the first few pages there is already a gruesome death, regarded oddly lightly by one of the main characters currently using Carnival, an extremely potent, addictive relaxant. This is an example of the very dark, ironic humor present throughout the novel. The story continues from there when the addict, David, is forced to run away from the killers. Before long he is joined by a supposedly four thousand year old man named Cadell on a mission to find a machine that is capable of stopping the Roil.
The first few chapters of this book left me a little lost, with less of a focus on character development and more on world building, but sticking with it yields a rewarding experience. While it begins with a frantic pace, with little of the characters presented to engage with, they eventually develop into wonderful examples of rough, flawed people trying to do what's right despite themselves. The most interesting character is Cadell, a man who seems to have all the answers, with no motivation to explain himself, or how he is what he is. "To blame Cadell...is to blame a wind for blowing, a storm for raging. Cadell is Cadell, disaster comes easily with him." It is Cadell that pushes David, who believes that the Old Man is mad, along their journey between the sparse metropolis cities in an attempt to prevent the Roil's expansion.
This is yet another dark, steampunk world filled with dangerous politics. Thankfully, despite the somewhat common premise, it never feels like I've read this story before. Roil manages to keep the ideas fresh through the use of descriptive characters and setting. It helps that Jamieson spends a wonderful amount of time on the details of this world, and it really is a unique place. The book is very vivid, with a lot of effort going into painting the oft times gritty picture for the reader. There are several groups in a power struggle; the world's only major population centers are vast cities politically segregated from each other, as well as an intelligent species of humanoids called the Cuttlefolk. Despite the omnipresent threat of destruction from the Roil, for most of the book it's these separate people that exist as the antagonist.
The biggest fault of Roil is perhaps that there isn't quite as much detailed back-story as there could be. There's enough material for there to be a prequel novel detailing the ascension of the Roil, and various other aspects of this world. However, this may just be my desire to go further into the story. If you enjoy reading science fiction or fantasy with a decidedly dark tone, I suggest checking out The Darkbound Land: Roil. It's well written, fun to read, and is chalk-full of interesting ideas; semi-sentient flying machines, a group of near-deranged people kept alive for millennia, a world-spanning intelligent cloud. Jamieson's managed to create a fantastic world of horror, novelty, and adventure that would be a shame to miss out on.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Roil - imaginative but exhausting grimdark, March 2, 2012
This review is from: Roil (The Nightbound Land) (Mass Market Paperback)
Originally reviewed here [...]

This book is brutal, very dark, almost unremittingly so. Even the best of the grimdark genre needs moments of light or hope, though, or the book becomes emotionally draining- like this one does. So much so I had to stop half way through and read something else. I sincerely hope the second book has some more bright spots in it.
The writing is competent, often poetic, but sometimes a little overwrought. Now, I love a bit of melodramatic writing along with the next goth girl, and while most of it was perfectly within the feel of the novel, sometimes I ended up rolling my eyes.
The characters are very well drawn, you get to know them quite fast even if intially they only have bare-bones personalities- but the trouble with Jamieson's skill is characterisation is lies in the tendency he has to show us enjoyable character who exist only to die in the same chapter they're introduced. Like a number of the techniques he uses, this tires the reader out, leaving them no room to care for the main characters.
I won't spoilt the ending, or anything that happens if I can avoid it, as it really is breathtaking. A lot of the things I really loved about this novel I can't reveal, as they would count as spoilers. It's that kind of book.
If you find poetic description annoying, or you can't handle unrelenting GRIMDARK, you will HATE this book. Otherwise, I'd say it's well worth a read. I will certainly be picking up the sequel.
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5.0 out of 5 stars No reader hand holding here, March 1, 2012
By 
Cheryl Souza (Pacific Northwest) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Roil (The Nightbound Land) (Mass Market Paperback)
This is a complex, interesting story. Think mid-apocalyptic dystopia, with lovely tantalizing bits of steampunk. Instead of detailed descriptions of things like Hideous Garment Flutes or Mirlees on Weep, you are plopped into the story and expected to travel along. I get why that won't work for every reader, but I like it when an author trusts me to hold up my end of the relationship between writer and reader, especially when such a lovely piece of fiction is involved. Effective world building doesn't always require every nut and bolt of the framework, or even much in the way of struts, something Trent Jamieson more than capably demonstrates.

If you feel able to trust him, like dark fiction and adventure tales with a steampunk bent, try Roil.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Inventive but disappointing, September 6, 2011
By 
This review is from: Roil (The Nightbound Land) (Mass Market Paperback)
The land of Shale is in trouble. The Roil, a wave of darkness filled with unnatural monsters, is sweeping across the continent, engulfing everything it encounters. Out of twelve cities, only four remain standing. Humanity is fighting back in every way it can, but internal divisions between political factions increase the chaos, and more and more it seems like the end is nigh. It's up to a drug-addicted boy, a young woman out for revenge for the death of her parents, and a man who may be thousands of years old, to try and stop the inevitable....

I'm often intrigued by the books Angry Robot puts out, because they frequently seem to straddle two or more genres. They're hard to classify, and that alone often makes them interesting. Roil is another great example of this, as it combines elements of fantasy, science fiction, steampunk and horror, all wrapped in what, based on the blurb, looks like a pulse-raising apocalyptic adventure story. I had high hopes for this one, but even though Roil has some positive aspects, I came away mostly disappointed.

In a sign of things to come, the novel starts off with two scenes of high drama: in the city of Mirleess, David Milde watches political opponents cut his father's throat, then has to go into hiding underground while suffering horrible drug withdrawals. Meanwhile in the city of Tate, which has somehow survived inside the Roil, Margaret Penn learns that her famous parents have successfully field-tested I-bombs, a possible method to stop the Roil, just as the city's defenses finally begin to succumb to the relentless unnatural onslaught. She flees, trying to make her way through the chaos of the Roil to safety....

Most of the early parts of Roil consist of these high stakes, high drama scenes, but because the reader doesn't really have any background yet about the people or the world's history, it often feels like empty drama. It all sounds tremendously important but just doesn't have much impact. The first few chapters of this novel feel like watching one of those movie trailers that cram all the big explosions, mysterious characters and dramatic bits of dialogue of a two hour movie into a couple of minutes. It's impressive, but it lacks the context that would give it real meaning. Roil would have been served very well by setting up the situation and the characters a bit before throwing them all into the deep end of the pool, so the reader would have some empathy and understanding. I actually stopped reading at one point to make sure this wasn't book two of a series. (As far as I know it isn't, but if ever a book could benefit from a prequel, this is it.)

Strangely enough, there actually is some exposition early on, in the form of excerpts from fictional history books that analyze, from a future perspective, the events we're currently witnessing. However, these aren't always helpful because the information tends to be vague and often focuses on the macro level, not on the characters we're dealing with in the story. The very first excerpt, heading Chapter One, talks about political factions such as Engineers and Confluents, which doesn't make much sense when you first read it. I'm not crazy about info-dumps as it is, but the ones in Roil are doubly annoying because they often don't help much and sometimes actually create more confusion.

Still, there are also many positives in those early chapters, if you're willing to go with the flow. Especially the early scenes set in Tate, the final bastion of humanity in the Roil, are sometimes breathtaking. The descriptions of the city's defenses are simply awe-inspiring, and Trent Jamieson really manages to paint the picture so the reader can envision the situation perfectly. Margaret's journey through the Roil is at times hair-raising. If only we'd had a handful of chapters before the start of the novel to set everything up, those scenes would have had so much more impact. (By the way, if you want a taste of Roil, Angry Robot has some sample chapters available here. Check out Chapter 2 for Tate's city defenses, which I thought were some of the best parts of the novel.)

The experience of reading Roil is doubly frustrating because there's actually a lot of really inventive world-building going on. You just have to work your way through a large chunk of the book to get to the point where you can really appreciate it. The Engine of the World, the Old Men, the Cuttlefolk, the Aerokin, the Vastkind... all these things are mentioned briefly here and there, but they only begin to form a coherent picture as you read further into the novel. Roil is a book set in a period when everything is falling apart, but it focuses heavily on the "falling apart" bit and doesn't really describe what it is we're seeing the dissolution of until later. Roil is a great book to reread, because a second look will allow you to catch some details of the novel's spectacular setting that are mostly meaningless the first time around. However, I'm afraid many readers won't even make it through one reading without getting too frustrated to continue, also because the pacing is uneven and the story at times seems directionless. That's a shame, because despite all its shortcomings, there are some wonderful aspects to this novel.

Roil's main strength is its inventive worldbuilding, but this is often overshadowed by its tendency towards the over-dramatic and its unsuccessful start that fails to build empathy for the characters and understanding of the novel's setting. I tried very hard to like this book, but even after two readings, it just didn't work for me.

(This review originally appeared on tordotcom on Aug 30th, 2011 - you can also find all the links there, as Amazon doesn't allow links in reviews.)
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Roil (The Nightbound Land)
Roil (The Nightbound Land) by Trent Jamieson (Mass Market Paperback - August 30, 2011)
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