four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
27-Mar-Apr-2007
user_rating: 
0

A-Scar NightThe city of Deepgate hangs suspended by a complex network of chains over the abyss, the realm of the angel-god Lord Ulcis. The city’s dead are offered in tribute to Ulcis, who marshals his strength to overthrow his mother, the goddess Ayen. The effort to save Deepgate hinges on Dill, a young winged angel and the last of his kind (one of his ancestors, a fallen angel, created the abyss when he crashed to earth). Dill trains to become a warrior and to save the city by journeying into the abyss. To be continued in the author’s planned trilogy…
Spectra. 432 pages. $22. ISBN: 0553384163

Agony Column 4 of 5 Stars
"Scar Night reads like the other heavyweight fantasy trilogy, and my favorite bar none, Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast. … The scenario here is dark, grimy and deeply disturbing, more horror story set in the surreal than a fantasy-version of yesteryear’s conflict." Rick Kleffel

Guardian 4 of 5 Stars
"For a first novel, Scar Night is indecently good, despite occasional slickness and a slight loss of control over the dialogue towards the end. And if Campbell owes heavy debts to Mervyn Peake and John Milton, well, there are worse influences to choose; and the debt is not so heavy that he can be accused of lacking a voice of his own." Jon Courtenay Grimwood

Sci Fi Weekly 4 of 5 Stars
"This debut novel from a writer whose previous notoriety stems from his contributions to the video game Grand Theft Auto inaugurates a series to be known as The Deepgate Codex, and while the first volume reaches a very satisfying conclusion, it leaves its many protagonists all in an open-ended state—at least the ones who survive the various cataclysms herein." Paul Di Filippo

Strange Horizons 3.5 of 5 Stars
"[Campbell’s] prose is vivid and evocative; Deepgate in particular is lovingly depicted, in passages which are as aural and tactile as they are visual. … The characters, although sometimes a little too familiar or stereotyped … are solidly realised and believable, largely as a result of Campbell’s ear for dialogue." Finn Dempster

Critical Summary

Scottish author Alan Campbell was previously a software designer best known for bringing to life the controversial Grand Theft Auto series. Scar Night, more than a decade in the making and the opening salvo in The Deepgate Codex trilogy, has tongues wagging in sci-fi/fantasy circles. The novel evokes comparisons to the work of Mervyn Peake (Gormenghast), George R. R. Martin (A Song of Ice and Fire), China Miéville (Perdido Street Station), and even John Milton and Charles Dickens. Campbell’s debut is well worth reading for its vividly rendered settings, alluring characters, and complex philosophical issues that will carry the final two volumes to their inevitably explosive conclusions.

Cited by the Critics

Gormenghast Trilogy | Mervyn Peake: The first book in this gothic fantasy trilogy, Titus Groan, was published in 1946. Gormenghast is a large, sprawling castle; the trilogy tells the story of Titus’s rise to power (a role he may not accept). There is no magic here, nor any other beings than humans—some have deemed it a "fantasy of manners."