A Review by Loren Foster
Originally posted at Netgalley.com

Title: Roil
Author: Trent Jamieson
Publisher: Angry Robot

Pub Date: August, 30, 2011
ISBN: 9780857661845

Format: Paperback
Pages: 432
List Price: $7.99

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/roil ) the word ROIL is a verb whose first known use dates back to 1590. Definition is given as: to make turbid by stirring up the sediment or dregs; to stir up; disturb; to move turbulently; be in a state of turbulence or agitation.
Synonyms: boil, churn, moil, seethe.
Antonyms: delight, gratify, please.

In “Roil”, the first installment of The Nightbound Land, Trent Jamieson indeed toils through all the variations of the verb roil. Unfortunately, he has chosen to begin our tortuous journey bound to the company of David. As an addict, dependent on the antithetically named Carnival, David rarely rises above an emotionless state, seeming to exist solely as a means to move the story along as he is dragged through the muddy mire of an Earth called Shale.

If not for the commitment to review this book, I would have stopped reading it soon after the first pages. I was agitated by the lack of detail of David’s city Mirrlees-on-Weep, or of a description of David himself. Granted, David does grow on you after a while, but it is a slow process like curing a bad rash.

Margaret Penn and her city of Tate’s desperate decades long Roil engulfed struggle would have served up a much more moving and gratifyingly turbid start. She carries the weight and responsibilities of the worlds salvation with an Icy style and fashion that David lacks.

Frustration with scanty clues to the worlds back history clashes and wars with tantalizing hints and foreshadowings. Monstrous creatures vary in credibility and details, such as the innocuously named Hideous Garment Flutes. A garment flute is a trumpet-shaped frill on a dress…what exactly is hideous about them?

Jamieson proves masterful in his flesh rending gut twisting panoramas, inflicting trauma any E.R. surgeon would run screaming from. Battle scenes and fervent fields of gory transmogrification abound.

Add to the mix the mystery and menace of the Old Men and their links to the enigmatic Engine of the World. Drift, a flying city home of the Aerokin with their symbiotic living ships (a la Farscape’s Moya ) literally leave things up in the air with the ending begging for the next installment “Night’s Engines”, if only in hopes of untying and making sense of all those chapter heading quotes that allude to a future in which someone survived to publish.

Which brings us to the old adage, “Publish or Perish.” Will Shale, a lowly sedimentary rock compacted together by pressure, rise from the seething coils of the Roil, or will it succomb?
Time will Tell the Tale in “Night’s Engines.”

Loren Foster