Monday, July 19, 2010

Monster Blood Tattoo: Book One: The Foundling / by David M. Cornish

Rossamünd Bookchild already has it tough being a boy with a girl's name. The fact that he's one of the oldest boys at the orphanage makes it all the worse. It isn't long though before things change when a local seagoing outfit hires up the fourteen-year-old as a midshipmen, embarking him on the voyage which will begin what Rossamünd expects (from all the stories he's read and heard) to be a very adventurous life. The world Rossamünd enters for the first time, the world of Half-Continent, is indeed very new and exciting, but also very treacherous. Humans are not the only wayfarers upon the high seas. The prowling, shadowy figures of hideous, unearthly beasts cohabit the world, living on land and sea, mercilessly preying upon mankind. Men like Rossamünd's shipmate Poundinch, possessing an image of the creature tattoed on his arm (men bearing the tattoo have slain one of the monsters), aim to kill the beasts or be killed themselves. Something Rossamünd learns, in the coming months, is no easy feat.
Australia native Cornish apparently spent over 14 years perfecting his fantastical world of Half-Continent, an imaginary world so detailed and precise that a lengthy appendix with glossary is tacked on to this volume, the first of a trilogy, for the purpose of enlightening the reader as to all of the series' intricate details and inventive vocabulary. But it doesn't take a fantasy buff or even an older reader to enjoy the author's magical tale and vivid descriptions set in a time and place mirroring something from 18th century Georgian English society with ships and maritime aspects of the era well-entailed. The book, truly a labor of love, is well worth it as a exceptionally unique and original story. Also look for Cornish's 2nd volume, Lamplighter, which is already available on the shelves and the third, Factotum, due out soon. (SF CORNISH)

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