I'm really enjoying most of the novellas that are being published by Tor, they are presenting a mix of many genres and many authors, some known and consolidated, others less. A great diversity to choose from.
Talking about diversity, the novella that I present today, The emperor's railroad, by Guy Haley, is a strange mixture of zombies, angels, knights and dragons in a post-apocalyptic scenario in which human society has regressed to levels we can descrive almost as medieval.
The synopsis piqued my interest, especially to see if the author should be able to link all these aspects in a more or less coherent and interesting plot. I think he has been successful, but with nuances.
The story is told through the point of view of a boy of 12, who explains the story when he is older and, having spent his life as a monk, is about to die (no, it's not called Adso ). The plot centers on the trip he and his mother undertake to the house of a cousin, after his village has been overrun by zombies. On the way they find the true protagonist, Quinn, a knight, who is hired to accompany and protect them on their journey.
In the world Haley propose us, major cities are run by angels, that appoint the knights as their representatives. We don't know much about the causes that have led to the emergence of zombies nor angels, nor the decline of our civilization, but we know that relatively recently, some cities have entered a civil war and the people are yet sufferint the consequences of the conflict.
Although I am no a zombie genre fan, I think the novel is exciting; there is a scene that tells an attack of this kind of monsters that has provoked me goosebumps. It may be the semi-medieval setting. It's not the same facing a hungry horde with machine gun bursts than with pikes.
Altough it is original in some points, the plot and the characters have some topics. But the main mistake I find in the story and that bothers me more is that does not solve many of the puzzles posed in the worldbuilding, and finally we don't know what had happened to our world. It is, so far, all open to interpretation. I have some assumptions and suspicions about has happened, but I will have to wait for subsequent installments of the adventures of Quinn to corroborate them. I do not know if this strategy is good or not, frankly, I think it might discourage more than one lector, but I'm intrigued enough to give a second chance to Guy Haley. In July a new novella will be published with Quinn as the main chracter, The Ghoul King. Surely it will appear here.