Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tenjin by Simon Gillen

Tenjin has a curious style that mixes elements from disparate sources that make this a spiritual successor to classical Chinese novels and Fistful of Dollars. The main character is very much in the nature of a hero out of a spaghetti western or a film noir. The main character immediately strikes you as a man of imminent practicality and a sort of outwardly grey morality. Tenjin is strong, for a mortal, but where he really shines is his cunning mind which takes heavy advantage of the fact that most people think he is too big and ugly to be a good liar. He exists somewhere between a true anti-hero and those noir heroes who don't view themselves as heroes.

The world Tenjin lives in is one of common place magic, where one can have a civil conversation with a vengeful ghost and where gods are minor functionaries in society. Despite the complex social structures going on, with highly intricate bureaucracies and the like, the world is very much one of depravity and barbarism. Many of the other characters in the story are responsible for absolutely deplorable activities, right down to an absolutely grotesque method of execution which is not so much described as it is explicitly implied, and I am aware of the contradiction involved in putting those two words together. Very much like one of Eastwood's or Bogart's films, you find virtue in very strange places, but vice is liberally strewn across the landscape.

The story is amusing and fast-paced. A quick and interesting read for mature audiences. The intrigue and interplay of plots takes center stage, with the reader waiting to see just when the thirty xanatos pileup comes about.

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