The Cathedral of Known Things by Edward Cox
Please note The Cathedral of Known Things is a direct sequel to The Relic Guild. If you haven’t read this first then it is highly likely there will be elements of this reviewed that could be considered a little bit spoilery. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…Still there? Good show, onwards!
Divided, hunted and short on resources, the surviving members of the Relic Guild are in real trouble. Their old enemy, the Genii, and their resurrected master have infiltrated Labrys Town and taken over the police force.
So the Relic Guild must flee their home, and set off on a dangerous journey across the worlds of the Aelfir. One that will lead them to a weapon which might destroy the Genii. Or the whole universe…
And forty years before all this, the war which led to the fall of the Genii continues. And what happens to the Relic Guild during that conflict will change the course of their desperate flight.
Over the last couple of years there have been a raft of exciting new talents appear on the UK fantasy fiction scene. Liz de Jager, Jen Williams and Den Patrick have all released multiple books that are great fun. Last year, Edward Cox’s debut novel, The Relic Guild, joined the throng and delivered a wonderfully original read. Now, the second book in this series is upon us and the good news is that, as with his contemporaries, Mr Cox proves without doubt that he’s no one-trick pony.
When we re-join the remnants of the Relic Guild in book 2, it doesn’t take a genius to quickly surmise that things have taken a turn for the worse. On the run, hunted by everyone, they are doing anything they can just to keep one step ahead of their pursuers. Can our oddly dysfunctional little family of weirdos hold things together long enough to take out the Genii and save humanity?
Old Man Sam retains that stoically gruff demeanour that his difficult not to enjoy and Van Bam is still driven by his quest for answers. Clara is making peace with the power that flows through her veins, in fact, now that she has accepted its existence she is revelling in her magic. It’s Hamir, however, who remains my favourite character. He is so delightfully dry and sardonic. His reactions to almost every situation are priceless. The way he views every other character is a joy. It feels like he observes others in the same way a scientist would view bugs under a microscope, we are little more than a curiosity.
Fabian Moor and the rest of the loathsome Genii also return. Cox takes some time to detail the genesis of this evil bunch and it adds a nice additional layer of depth to their characters. We get to discover more about the force that is driving their mission and the reasons why they are so hell bent on their goal.
I’m a stickler when it comes to understanding character motivations. Reading is such an emotive experience for me, I need to be able to understand what makes a character tick. Cox’s writing excels, and delivers the level of details that I’m looking for. It doesn’t matter if a character is good, bad or somewhere in that grey area in-between, they have to make sense. The characterisation on display here confirms to me that Edward Cox understands that need.
As an aside, the key thing I learned from The Cathedral of Known Things? Do not, under any circumstances, upset an empath. The resulting chaos that will ensue is going to be described as incredibly messy at best.
As with the first book in the series the plot spans two different time periods. I really enjoy how you start to see Cox drawing together the various narrative threads. The events unfolding, irrespective of when they occur, are all leading towards the same ultimate goal. Though there are only a handful of characters followed in this ongoing war the events they take part in are affecting millions. Everything suggests that we are hurtling towards an epic conclusion, I can’t wait. The second book of The Relic Guild ends with a suitably cliffhangery moment. Well played Mr Cox, you’ve got me actively waiting for next book in the series. There is going to be one isn’t there? Don’t leave me hangin’, I don’t think I could cope.
Interested parties, worriers such as myself, you have nothing to fear. I can confirm that you can rest easy, safe in the knowledge that The Relic Guild have returned and they are bringing Hell with them. How very splendid.
The Cathedral of Known Things is published by Gollancz and is available now. Highly recommended.