Daylight on Iron Mountain is the second novel in David Wingrove's 'recasting' of his epic Chung Kuo series, which is now planned to expand across twenty novels. Daylight was originally the closing part of the first book, Son of Heaven, a newly-written prequel novel, but at his editor's suggestion Wingrove pulled out and radically expanded the Daylight segment into a full, page novel.
Chung Kuo - Book Series In Order
This turns out to have been a masterstroke of an idea: Son of Heaven was effective in a low-key kind of way, but as I said in my review I was concerned that it didn't really seem to be setting the scene for a colossal twenty-book series. Daylight ends such concerns in one fell swoop. Daylight on Iron Mountain may be relatively short on page count but is rammed to overflowing with political intrigue, corporate scheming, desperate struggles for human survival and, in the final section, a mind-boggling war which is vast in scope.
One storyline follows the political infighting as the Seven Ch'ung's key advisors realise how unstable their leader has become and debate what is to be done, whilst another sees Jake Reed the main character in the first novel struggling to survive in the new world of the City. A further subplot sees General Jiang Lai, an honest man in a dishonest world, trying to keep his head above water as enemies gather on all sides. Wingrove juggles these plots with skill. He doesn't have the page count to indulge them in the way an epic fantasy writer could, so he keeps the storylines moving rapidly and in tandem, flitting from one to another.
At times the book feels a little rushed - the concluding conflict feels like it should be unfolding over weeks or months, not just days - but Wingrove doesn't neglect some key scenes of character-building, or employing thematic irony the epilogue in particular features an element that feels like something out of the Soviet Union, or indeed Chinese Communist history to hint at greater events to come. As well as being rather slow, the main criticism that could be aimed at Son of Heaven was that it had a tendency to drift towards stereotyping in its portrayal of the Chinese characters.
It's a massive relief that this problem does not exist in Daylight on Iron Mountain. The characters, Chinese or otherwise, are a gallery of heroes, villains, the selfish and the selfless, or people simply trying to survive however they can. Normally cold-hearted lawyers show unexpected compassion, one of the most powerful men on Earth gives way to grief when he pays the ultimate price for victory and generals take time to consider the moral implications of the deaths they are about to cause. Unfortunately, this nuanced approach to characterisation does not extend to the primary 'villain', Tsao Ch'un himself, who is more of a cliched antagonist with a side-line in personally torturing prisoners and smashing up priceless antiques with a baseball bat to show how evil he is.
There's a larger and far more interesting cast of characters, there's some impressive action and war sequences and there's a relentless drive to the book's pacing as the characters are swept up in the march of history. A few characters most notably Ch'un suffer a little from the fast - sometimes rushed - pacing, but overall this is a compelling, page-turning SF epic which leaves the reader eager for more.
There is no American publisher for the series at this time, but copies should be easily available through the Book Depository. Having read the original version of the series and enjoyed the first six books a lot I'm going to wait until the whole thing is finished before considering it, but nice to see the rewrite is picking up in quality. So you can read Books and leave it there for as long as you like, as there's no cliffhanger or anything. Book 3 is then the first half of the original first book, The Middle Kingdom , so theoretically readers can also skip Books and then start with 3 if they really want.
Posted 13 September - PM My inner pessimist actually wants to see whether he finishes this 'book epic' effort, AND whether he manages to remedy the utter crapfeste that became books 7 and 8. As much as I enjoyed and i did, in fact i think they're brilliant , 7 left a vomitesque taste in my mouth and i decline to acknowledge that 8 ever happened. I had some random guy talking to me about this series after he heard me praising Sandersons Mistborn and Way of Kings.
Posted 13 September - PM Abyss, on 13 September - PM, said: My inner pessimist actually wants to see whether he finishes this 'book epic' effort, AND whether he manages to remedy the utter crapfeste that became books 7 and 8. For more than a century, the Earth has been under the rule of Chung Kuo, a world-spanning civilisation founded by a Chinese warlord using advanced technology. That warlord was later deposed by the T'ang, seven senior rulers who feared his insanity. The T'ang now rule a strictly hierarchical world at peace, but one where the powers of the privileged few are built on a pyramid of oppression and strictly-enforced order.
With thirty-six billion people packed into the vast, continent-spanning cities of 'ice' a nanotech-based material with super-strong properties , the dangers of chaos are all too apparent. But there is growing discontent in Chung Kuo. Wealthy industrialists and ambitious scientists want change and growth to prevent stagnation. The enforcers of order will not stand for this. When the Minister of the Edict, whose job it is to prevent any drastic change to the order of things, is assassinated, it becomes clear that a war is coming.
The War of Two Directions, which could spell a new dawn for humanity or spell its utter extinction. Originally published in eight volumes in the s and s, the series was abruptly cancelled and the author forced to write a highly unsatisfying quick ending which satisfied no-one. With new publishers Corvus at the helm, Chung Kuo has been recast in twenty volumes, including an all-new beginning and ending. The first two novels, Son of Heaven and Daylight on Iron Mountain, showed the foundation of Chung Kuo and the destruction of the world before, serving as scene-setting prologues.
The Middle Kingdom, picking up a hundred years later, is where the story itself really gets started. It's also where the series catches up to the original series, and in fact The Middle Kingdom consists of the first half or so of the original novel of the same name, published in This means that you don't need to have read the first two novels to leap straight into The Middle Kingdom. For those who have read the first two books, The Middle Kingdom features a surprising and welcome shift in gear. The first two books were extremely fast-paced, with some character development and worldbuilding having to be sacrificed to get through epic events in a reasonable page-count.
The Middle Kingdom is slower-paced, with events more deliberately unfolding. Characters are established and explored, the opposing thematic concepts of change and stasis are set up well and complex conspiracies unfold with relish.
This doesn't mean the book is devoid of incident, with several assassinations and bombings, some underworld crime machinations and high-level political intrigue making for a busy novel, albeit one that is not as rushed as its predecessors. The pacing is pretty solid, though the later-novel introduction of a whole new major character and situation does betray the book's status as merely the opening salvo in a much vaster tale.
The characters are split between the Chinese and Western-descended inhabitants of the world those who've read the first two books will know that Africa and the Middle-East did not fare well during the takeover and such characters are present on both sides of the central thematic argument of the series. Wingrove's characterisation is pretty good, though he tends to lean a little more towards the broad rather than the subtle. Still, it is effective. Wingrove is also non-judgemental at least at this stage about his thematic argument: in a society of almost forty billion people, utterly dependent on technology to survive, the dangers of both change and stagnation are clear.
With a few exceptions, his characters are not clear-cut good or bad guys either, with both honourable men and the amoral present on both sides of the debate. The fourth volume in the series, Ice and Fire, will be published in December.
An Inch of Ashes
Chung Kuo, the world-girdling city ruled by the Seven T'angs, is caught in a struggle between two ideologies. The T'angs favour stability and stasis. The House, the bureaucratic body that rules City Europe in the T'angs' name, advocates change and progress, exemplified in their construction of a generation starship. The Seven are now faced with the choice of allowing their Empire of Ice to be swept away by progress or by launching a pre-emptive strike to win back control of the situation Ice and Fire is the fourth volume in the 'new' version of the Chung Kuo series, picking up shortly after the events of The Middle Kingdom.
As well as being a continuation of that novel understandably, as Ice and Fire was originally published in as part of the original Middle Kingdom , it also contains a number of self-contained character and story arcs standing against the epic events unfolding from previously. If Ice and Fire does have a self-contained theme, it's the hope of the young to bring a brighter future than what their elders have achieved, only for that hope to be eroded by cynicism and, in some cases, cruelty.
Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about An Inch of Ashes , please sign up. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. Jul 04, Simon rated it liked it. While the series is highly addicting, I'm starting to feel a bit lost due to the sheer length and characters of the story.
I definitely praise the author for this series but it just feel so hard to keep up at times. There's a bit of a stretch from one book to the next and so you can't blame me when I"m having a hard time remembering just what the heck happened and I'm not just talking about the previous boo An Inch of Ashes by David Wingrove is the 6th installment of his remade Chung Kuo series. There's a bit of a stretch from one book to the next and so you can't blame me when I"m having a hard time remembering just what the heck happened and I'm not just talking about the previous book!
There are so many characters and so many events that you need to keep up with. With that being said, I still have to say that I had a decent time overall with An Inch of Ashes, though this one was the least enjoyable book so far out of the series. Honestly, I don't even know where to start when it comes to the overall story! Certain characters get their own section of the book. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about Li Yuan and Fei Yen, although some parts were a bit predictable.
Where these two are concerned, you just know that something big is going to happen in the future. Well, to think about it, that could be said for pretty much every story development in this series! The next enjoyable section deals with the story of Haavikko and his guilt of what he thinks he has done. I think this was one of the only sections that got me on the edge of my seat. Next, we get to read about Kim Ward. In my opinion, Kim feels like a non-issue in this book and just a filler.
Publication Order of Chung Kuo Recasting Books
Finally we round up on Ben Shepard. This part actually threw me off the most. It was a bit weird and I just couldn't for the life of me remember how it is that he came to this place nor what happened to him in the previous book! His story captured me the least although I'm sure his character will play a much bigger role in the books to come. At the end of every book I read in a series, I always ask myself if I will be continuing on. With the Chung Kuo series, I've answered that question seven times so far and I'm not even halfway through!
But yes, I will be continuing on.
Chung Kuo (novel series)
This has its benefits each book is a concise and fast read , but it also risks frustration as each book stops just as it is getting going. There are also cost issues buying twenty hardcovers, paperbacks or ebooks is simply more expensive than buying ten, whichever way you cut it.
- David Wingrove.
- Summary Bibliography: David Wingrove.
- Skin and Language!
- Hypoelliptic Laplacian and Orbital Integrals!
- Corporate Irresponsibility: Americas Newest Export!
Ice and Fire is the first book in the series where it feels like this is a bit more of an issue, and it may well become more of one as the series continues to progress. The other is a notable rise in the amount of sex and violence in the book, including a torture sequence which recalls the more gratuitous excesses of Terry Goodkind fortunately this torture sequence only lasts five pages, not the forty plus of a Goodkind novel.
The sudden increase in such scenes feels a bit jarring after the first three books, which certainly were not for children but did not contain as many scenes. Probably not an issue for some readers, but definitely an element of concern and, based, on how the original series unfolded, something that might become more notable in later volumes.
It suffers a little from its shortness, with the story cutting off just as it's getting going, but otherwise this is another solid instalment in what is turning out to be an impressive SF epic. The novel will be published on 1 December in the UK , and American readers will be able to get copies from the Book Depository. Chung Kuo 5: The Art of War. You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account. Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.
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Our Patreon site is now live! Search In. Reply to this topic Start new topic. Recommended Posts. Werthead - Contributor. Posted December 26, Jake Reed is a young futures broker, trading stock on the datascape, the high-tech virtual stock market, one of the best in his field. When the datascape comes under attack from hackers, Reed is called in to investigate who could be responsible.
However, the virtual attack is but the opening move in a struggle years in the planning. Cities burn, riots erupt and armies are neutralised as the long-feared collapse of modern civilisation begins. Share this post Link to post Share on other sites. Posted September 13, China has overrun and conquered most of Eurasia and the stacks of the City now sprawl across the ruins of old Europe. In the Middle-East, the Chinese meet fanatical resistance in the form of suicide bombers and terror tactics, whilst across the oceans the shattered remnants of the United States try to fight back.
But the Son of Heaven, Tsao Ch'un, will brook no opposition and prepares the largest military campaign in human history to bring North American under his rule. But as armies march and missiles fly, Tsao Ch'un himself, now old and paranoid, is becoming increasingly unstable. As the seeds of civil war are sewn, will the new world be destroyed in its infancy?
Crowl Rife - Member. Posted February 3, edited. Highly recommended for anyone who likes Wheel of Time. Posted August 15, edited. Edited August 15, by Crowl Rife. Posted October 28, For more than a century, the Earth has been under the rule of Chung Kuo, a world-spanning civilisation founded by a Chinese warlord using advanced technology. That warlord was later deposed by the T'ang, seven senior rulers who feared his insanity. The T'ang now rule a strictly hierarchical world at peace, but one where the powers of the privileged few are built on a pyramid of oppression and strictly-enforced order.
With thirty-six billion people packed into the vast, continent-spanning cities of 'ice' a nanotech-based material with super-strong properties , the dangers of chaos are all too apparent.
Posted November 13, Chung Kuo, the world-girdling city ruled by the Seven T'angs, is caught in a struggle between two ideologies. The T'angs favour stability and stasis. The House, the bureaucratic body that rules City Europe in the T'angs' name, advocates change and progress, exemplified in their construction of a generation starship. The Seven are now faced with the choice of allowing their Empire of Ice to be swept away by progress or by launching a pre-emptive strike to win back control of the situation Posted May 21, The great war is winding down. The Dispersionists, those citizens of the great world-girdling city of Chung Kuo who have argued in favour of change and technological advancement, have been defeated by the forces of the T'ang, the Seven, the guardians of stasis and the status quo.
All that remains is for the T'ang to distribute the wealth they stole from their foes and return to ruling the world in peace. But things have changed too much for that. DeVore, most infamous of the Dispersionists, remains at large and now plots to restart the war with the help of some new allies. It opens five years after the events of Ice and Fire. Those hoping to see the War of Two Directions or, more accurately, its opening moves in all its glory will be disappointed as Wingrove skips most of the conflict to concentrate on the aftermath and the attempts by Howard DeVore to keep the struggle going through other means.
The Art of War disdains the sprawling morass of plots of the previous couple of volumes in favour of a tighter focus on DeVore's plans, the machinations of the redoubtable Hans Ebert and the development of Ben Shepherd as he tries to realise his destiny. A few other chapters concentrate in short bursts on other characters as they get into position for the next stage of the conflict, most notably on the T'ang themselves.