As you may have determined from my review of Somewhither, I have been impressed by the work of John C. Wright. Somewhither was an awesome roller coaster ride with as much depth as it had spectacle. Iron Chamber of Memory is different. It is a much slower burn. Don’t get me wrong, there is action, adventure, and derring-do. There is also romance, though in more than one sense. I’ll get to that in a bit. Slower burn or no, unlike Somewhither, I read Iron Chamber of Memory in a day. Thanksgiving Day, to be precise. It’s taken me this long to write the review because how to review such a book was a bit of a conundrum. The story starts out with Hal Landfall, a poor graduate student working on a paper on Arthurian legend, looking for his missing friend Manfred on the island of Sark. (Sark is a real place, a small island in the English Channel, just east of Guernsey.) Manfred has recently become the hereditary lord of Sark, and Hal is seeking him in the middle of the night, at a bizarrely labyrinthine mansion where the Lords of Sark reside, presently unoccupied. (Unlike the island, the mansion,
The wrecked, bullet-riddled cars had been dragged away from the gate by the time we got back. With the uproar in town, the sheriff’s department hadn’t showed up yet, either, though I was sure they were on their way. It was going to take them a while, though. I pulled the truck up in front of the porch and got out. Tom was waiting in the doorway. “Where’s shithead?” I asked. The fury was burning pretty hot by then; I’d been feeding the flames most of the way back from town. It might not have been the healthiest way of coping, but as long as it kept me from breaking down, I was going to stick with it. I had so damned much bottled up grief and fucked-up shit in my head by then that I didn’t dare open that floodgate. That way lay madness and fatal alcohol poisoning.
I hadn’t put my rifle down. Tom grabbed his M1A that had been leaning in the corner as we both turned and ran out of the ops room. Larry and Nick were already in Nick’s big diesel, and Tom and I hauled ourselves into the bed. It wasn’t quite the leap that it might have been a few years before, but we got ourselves situated and braced in a few seconds, before I banged on the roof of the cab with my off hand. Nick threw the truck in gear and we roared down the long driveway toward the gate. It was more a road than a driveway; the gate was almost a mile from the ranch house. Tom and I held on for dear life as the pickup raced over the unfinished gravel track, leaving a cloud of dust behind us. I could hear the shooting even over the roar of the engine and the buffeting wind of our passage. Those boys at the gate were getting some.
You know, a normal person, upon stepping out of a grocery store in a small town in Wyoming and seeing a dark red Crown Vic full of four young men, all Hispanic, all exuding the vato belligerence, two with shaved heads and goatees, watching them intently, might or might not immediately identify them as a threat. If they did, in this day and age, they might dismiss their initial concern as prejudice, and nobody wants to be prejudiced. So, they would try to ignore the mean-mugging and go about their business. To all outward appearances, that was what I did. But I am by no means a normal person anymore. Haven’t been for a lot of years. Most “normal” people would probably call me “paranoid” if they could see inside my head. I would probably correct them, pointing out that I am, in fact, “professionally paranoid.” It’s kept me alive in some very, very unpleasant places. I wasn’t looking at them as I walked across the street toward my beat-up old pickup, but was keeping them within my peripheral vision, watching them without focusing on anything in particular. I learned a long time ago that if you keep your eyes
The Canyon of the Lost is out today! Check it out for a short adventure with Jed Horn and Dan Weatherby, about a year after Nightmares and some time before A Silver Cross and a Winchester.