Gogmagog tells the story of an epic journey through the sixty-mile long ghost of a dragon. Travel is by boat, a rickety steam launch captained by veteran taxi pilot Cady Meade, on the river Nysis. In her heyday Cady carried people and goods from the thriving seaports of the estuary into Ludwich, the capital city. Now she’s drunk, holed up in a rundown seaside resort, telling her bawdy tales for shots of rum. All that’s about to change, when two strangers seek her out, asking for transport, one of whom – a young girl – is very ill, and in great danger. The other, an artificial being of singular character, has secrets hidden inside his crystal skull. So begins the voyage of the Juniper.
The Nysis is unlike any other river. Mysteries unfold with each port of call. Not many can navigate these channels, not many know of its whirlpools and sandbanks, and of the ravenous creatures that lurk beneath the surface. Cady used to have the necessary knowledge, and the powers of spectral navigation. But her glory days are well behind her now.
This might well be her final journey.
I have been waiting to read Gogmagog, the First Chronicle of Ludwich, by Jeff Noon and Steve Beard for so long and thanks to Angry Robot Books I was able to do that early.
Suffice to say, I was impressed as I was hyped. This story is set to be released February 13th 2024.
There is a blend of science fiction, fantasy and utter weirdness and I am all for it. The writing itself was a well-written, readable page-turner and whilst parts of the story were abruptly placed, the readability was creatively easy. We all know the well-told story of a group of people travelling to a crucial destination, but what Gogmagog does it set up a series of whacky and wonderful steps along the way that will have you reading over and over again. I was surprised by how imaginative this was, a non-conventional story that was a perfect cleanser from anything I’ve read before.
The characters themselves were almost Pratchett-esque, perhaps not as whimsical, but there were moments that had me laughing out loud from the sheer bonkersness of it all. Cady is a retired river captain who once navigated the River Nysis, regularly transporting passengers to the capital of Ludwich. Her story here begins as a seed-buying, weed-collecting, smoker and drinker who embroils herself in the journey. Yanish is Cady’s friendly apprentice, Brin is a sick young girl and Lek is an artificial intelligence who urgently need transport to the capital. And so our journey begins…
I enjoyed how the story tried to do something different. The setting itself was already a step up from our usual suspects and the world-building was filled with secrets and lore just waiting to be found. The almost gothic undertones are comparible to Gormenghast and Cities of the Weft but its humour, ideas and creatures are something in their own. I want to see so much art from this story because it’s something so unique.
I’m more than excited for book two – Ludluda – and finding out more after that ending. This is an intriguing setting filled with wonderful characters that will keep you invested along the way.