Book of the Year 2015 (see all)
The Cathedral of Known Things is a sequel to The Relic Guild, the middle book of Edward Cox’s The Relic Guild trilogy, and if you haven’t read part one you can find my review here. Spoilers for The Relic Guild may follow, so if you haven’t yet read it... What are you waiting for? The Cathedral of Known Things follows on immediately from the events in the first books and it picks up seamlessly from where the characters were last found.
As mentioned in my previous review The Relic Guild trilogy splits its chapters between the past and the present, and The Cathedral of Known Things is no different in this, switching between different groups of characters each chapter. The interesting thing about this method is that this allows us to see how the events of the previous book came about, as The Cathedral of Known Things links the events we have heard mentioned in the present, as they happened in the past. This doesn’t lessen the impact of these events but gives us more insight into how this reality became so dark.
The Relic Guild of the past is split between different missions which will impact on the success or defeat in Lord Spiral’s war on the Timewatcher. This battle has been raging for a long time now and the humans in Labrys Town have been isolated from the houses of the Aelfir. Van Bam and Angel have entered House Mirage, helping to return Mirage’s ambassador from Labrys Town as well as gathering news on the war, but what they find there will be more illuminating and frightening than they could imagine. Marney and Denton are on a secret mission to find the Library of Glass and Mirrors, a place that is little more than a myth. Even Marney has not been told the full extent of their mission, as the less she knows the safer they will be as they travel through Aelfirian Houses that are already war zones. Sam is still in Labrys Town helping Hamir, the Relic Guild’s necromancer try to access the secrets Fabian Moor holds.
In the past things are going badly for the Relic Guild, but not as badly as the Relic Guild of the present. Van Bam, Sam and Clara managed to escape the Labyrinth at the end of the last book, which had been fully taken over by Fabian Moor and the Genii he helped to resurrect. By escaping one danger Van Bam, Sam and Clara are thrown straight into another, this one caused by fear and political turmoil in the Aelfirian Houses that are slowly being manipulated to turn away from the rules of the Timewatcher, as the Timewatcher seems to have abandoned all of her children. After the war the Timewatcher returned to Mother Earth with the remaining Thaumaturgists. Due to this it is even more essential that Van Bam and the others are able to get their message about the return of the Genii and their hold on Labrys Town to anyone who will be able help avert the downfall of The Great Labyrinth.
Hamir alone ends up at The Tower of the Skywatcher, although this is no longer the gleaming tower we saw in the last book. The tower is now desolate and reflects the decay that seems to be seeping through the Aelfirian Houses. Hamir must find Lady Amilee, but will he be able to help his colleagues or is he just a minor player there to watch events as they happen? Hamir’s section is very interesting as we finally get to learn more about this most curious member of the Relic Guild.
There are a lot of twists and turns throughout this book which allows the characters to grow in both expected and unexpected ways. We see this with both Marney in the past and Clara in the future, especially in terms of their shared knowledge. As they learn to trust themselves and become both stronger as individuals as well as team players. They have to accept things about themselves that they wouldn’t have believed they were capable of. We are constantly reminded that the Relic Guild is there to sacrifice themselves for the greater population of Labrys Town; even if that means that they go unrecognised for their deeds.
Although the world of the Relic Guild was brought to life in the first part of the trilogy, it feels far more fleshed out in both timelines, as we travel deeper into danger and the unknown. The Cathedral of Known Things reconnects with earlier characters and shows how much their lives have changed since we last met them. We are given far more information on the brutality of Spiral’s war and how much forethought and planning he made; not only in the past, but also that he seems to have planned for every eventuality. Yet like the Timewatcher, he is an ideal that others strive for rather than an active character.
The Cathedral of Known Things unveils itself slowly like petals opening towards the shining sun, even if the events of the book become more disturbing. With a shock ending that I wasn’t prepared for Edward Cox has written an engagingly detailed novel that I recommend to everyone who likes mystery and magic. The third part of this trilogy should be out next year and it is definitely one of the books I am looking forward to reading in 2016.
Review by Michelle Herbert
Edward Cox had his first short story published in 2000 and then spent much of the next decade earning a BA 1st class with honours in creative writing, and a Master degree in the same subject. He then went on to teach creative [...]
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