The Book of Transformations by Mark Charan Newton

Rating 9.8/10
This is the best new series I've read since 2000, if not before then.

The Book of Transformations is the third book in the Legends of Red Sun, with the final book of the teratology out next summer (2012). The books in this series all follow pretty much straight on from each other but Mark has stated that his intention is for you to be able to read each as a standalone novel. Personally I've been hooked on the series since book 1, and that hasn't changed with this book. It would work as a standalone novel, but if you do read this one first expect to end up buying the first couple of books afterwards.

A new and corrupt Emperor seeks to rebuild the ancient structures of Villjamur to give the people of the city hope in the face of great upheaval and an oppressing ice age. But when a stranger called Shalev arrives, empowering a militant underground movement, crime and terror becomes rampant. The Inquisition is always one step behind, and military resources are spread thinly across the Empire. So Emperor Urtica calls upon cultists to help construct a group to eliminate those involved with the uprising, and calm the populace. But there’s more to The Villjamur Knights than just phenomenal skills and abilities – each have a secret that, if exposed, could destroy everything they represent.

Investigator Fulcrom of the Villjamur Inquisition is given the unenviable task of managing the Knights’, but his own skills are tested when a mysterious priest, who has travelled from beyond the fringes of the Empire, seeks his help. The priest’s existence threatens the church, and his quest promises to un-weave the fabric of the world. And in a distant corner of the Empire, the enigmatic cultist Dartun Súr steps back into this world, having witnessed horrors beyond his imagination. Broken, altered, he and the remnants of his cultist order are heading back to Villjamur. And all eyes turn to the Sanctuary City, for Villjamur’s ancient legends are about to be shattered…

I'd never heard of Mark Charan Newton until the beginning of this year when I picked up the first two books in the Legends of the Red Sun. They are, Nights of Villjamur, and City of Ruin. This is Mark's first series and his writing style is developing throughout the series, and he appears to be having fun slightly tweaking his style with each book. I guess if you insist on categorising his books they are new weird fantasy!? If you want to find out more about the author you can find him on his blog at http://www.markcnewton.com/.

The big star of the series so far have been the Cities of Villjamur and Villiren. The cities are alive and teaming with hidden histories. In The Book of Transformations Villjamur is struggling to cope with an influx of refugees desperate for the protection of the City, due to the fact that the planet appears to be about to enter a bleak long winter / ice age. The city is still very impressive but with this third book the characters take over and the city itself takes a bit of a backseat letting some of the characters who inhabit it take over.

So, after the upheaval of the first two books we have a new man in charge of Villjamur. Emperor Urtica who wants to change things, and not necessarily for the better and of course it's not going to be quite as easy as he thinks it will be. Along the way he comes up with a rather insane idea of creating some superheroes to guard the city. I don't think he quite gets what he wanted. There are rebels who want a social revolution, and of course there are the thousands of refugees outside the city who are desperate to be allowed in against the oncoming winter.

Whilst all this is happening a group of cultists who left the city in an earlier book are meandering their way back, the only problem is that after they encountered aliens who were invading the land via the Boreal Archipelago their leader has been a little odd... Let the mayhem begin.

There is so much happening. I've not even talked about the mad religious guy, who it turns out might not be mad, but could really be in contact with an old god. Never mind when the ghosts start walking again.

Oh, just to add to the fun, did I mention that one of the superheroes that the cities cultists create is slightly different from the average superhero, mainly due to the fact that she's transsexual, which is awesome. She isn't a joke character, she is one of, if not, the lead character throughout the book, it's just a fact that she happens to be a transsexual. It's handled well in the book. You might giggle or squirm/wince a bit when her personal transformation occurs but she seriously kicks arse.

Villjamur as a city itself is transformed forever by the time you reach the end of this book. The title of this book pretty much sums this whole book up, everything changes, transformations abound, some for the better and of course some for the worse, and some with tragic consequences.

I'm not sure if this review is any good, but I am sure that this book is great, I love it, and think that it’s a great addition to the series. It's a long, long time since reading a book and series from a new author has made me this excited How he manages to fit it all into one book is amazing. The style of writing is so clean, no paragraph is wasted. This is such a pleasure to read. It's slightly mad in places as Mark gets into transforming everything in sight, but that just adds to the fun of reading this book. I really believe in years to come we will be talking about new authors, and asking, are they the new Mark Charan Newton?

I enjoy reading fantasy, sci-fi and crime novels. This is the best new series I’ve read since 2000, if not before then.

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The Book of Transformations reader reviews

from Leicestershire

10-stars

Hi Antonis. Hehe. Typo Tetralogy set of 4 ;-) is what I meant to type!! First review I have typed on an iPad. That's my only excuse ;-)

from Greece

8-stars

Second line - teratology... hehehe you probable meant to write tetralogy. Teratology is an actual word but what it means is "the study of monsters" since teras (τέρας) in greek means monster or freak.To stay on topic, that was a nice review and this is a series I have very high on my to-read list. Hopefully I can find the time and start reading it before the end of the year!

9.3/10 from 3 reviews

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