Ace, May 203, 23.95, 416 pp.
In the England where Robert Borrows lives, there is no parliament or monarchy only the guilds who are the aristocracy. English civilization is based on the element aether, which is mined deep below ground in such places as Bracebridge in West Yorkshire. Without the use of aether, structures, buildings and bridges would crumble and life would be infinitely harder. Too much exposure to aether alters humans into changelings who are taken away to certain institutions where they can be cared for even if they are able to live a normal life.
Instead of joining his father's Toolmaker's Guild as he is supposed to, Robert travels to London where he learns the difference between the haves and the have-nots. He joins an organization whose goal is to overthrow the existing order, a Herculean feat since the guildmakers are so entrenched. While in London, he meets Anna, a changeling passing herself off as human, who is linked to Robert and Bracebridge in a very special way. When they discover the secrets that Bracebridge is hiding, they will usher in a new age, one that will change the world as they know it.
THE LIGHT AGE is a gothic fantasy that takes place in an England reminiscent of this world's early age. The underpinning of magic to hold society and civilization together means maintaining the status quo, something the protagonist is totally against because no progress is made towards discovering new knowledge. Nothing in his England has changed for three centuries since the discovery of aether. Ian R. MacLeod has written a fascinating work that brings something unique and refreshing to the genre.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner