You all know how much I enjoyed reading Hal Duncan's Vellum. Only rarely have I been that impressed with a novel. Hence, I wondered if the author could do it again in the sequel, Ink. After all, Duncan set the bar incredibly high with his explosive debut.
Well, let me tell you that Hal Duncan wrote the perfect sequel to Vellum! Ink is everything I wanted it to be and then some!;-) In my opinion, it will doubtless establish Duncan as one of the very best speculative fiction authors in the world today. Too ambitious and unusual to ever be considered mainstream, The Book of All Hours will indubitably become a cult classic.
Evenfall has come, unravelling reality as a whole. In its wake, Hinter has settled over the myriad folds of the Vellum. As was the case with its predecessor, Ink showcases a fascinating variety of locales spread out across time, space, history, and mythology. Duncan's kick-ass, "no holds barred" prose makes each reality leap off the pages.
Once again, the tale is not told in linear fashion. Jumping from one dimension to the next, Ink remains a challenging read. But a very satisfying one, have no fear. The novel is separated into two parts. The first, Hinter's Knights, is at times a little more difficult to get into. Yet the second part, Eastern Mourning, takes you on an unbelievable journey.
The characters which made Vellum such an unforgettable read are back, though a good chunk of the story revolves around Mad Jack Carter. I have to admit that it's been a while since I've liked a character to such a degree.
The Book of All Hours is a mind-blowing feat of ambition and imagination, written by a master storyteller with a "take no prisoners" attitude who's not afraid to experiment. You will either love it or despise it. I doubt Vellum and Ink can leave any reader indifferent. Both volumes are extremely dense, so forget about bringing them along for the morning/evening commute. Essentially, I think that a second and third reading would reveal a ton of details I've missed the first time around.
Ink is without the shadow of a doubt an early frontrunner for the 2007 Book of the Year. Indeed, it will give any other contenders a serious run for their money. Who knows? Perhaps it will even win a Word Fantasy Award or a Hugo Award this time. . . If you can only afford one book this season, make it this one!:-)
As for Hal Duncan, well the guy is pretty damn close to being a fookin genius. With his fertile imagination and a middle finger raised high against the establishment, Duncan has pushed the boundaries of what we consider speculative fiction to new heights. Whatever this man writes next, I'm reading it!
My only complaint pertaining to this multilayered tale would have to be that the ending is a bit anti-climatic. Other than that, this novel will satisfy even the most jaded of readers out there.
The Book of All Hours is a "must" in every fantasy collection.