The Fade

Author: Chris Wooding

Publisher: Gollancz

312 pages • £10.99

ISBN: 978-0-575-07699-0

Rating:

There is one major flaw with The Fade, but to explain it would be an unforgivable spoiler, as the book is thoroughly enjoyable and deserves your attention, so only have a look at the words at the very bottom of this review, (where mention of the flaw has been relegated to) when you’ve read the book.

The best thing about The Fade is that it’s not part one of any “major new series”. That’s not to say there may not be a sequel – its lead characters certainly warrant another outing – but this is a lean, mean, self-contained novel with a satisfying conclusion.

Chris Wooding, previously known for his children’s fantasies, kicks off The Fade with a brilliantly-realised bloody battle which leaves you in no doubt that he’s “gone adult”. Deep inside the moon of Callespa, war is raging between races forced underground by a killer combination of suns. Orna is an assassin bonded for life to the Clan Caracassa, who loses her husband and is captured by the enemy Gurta. The novel chronicles her attempt to escape and is intercut with flashbacks to her life, presented in reverse order. As the reader learns more about this fractious, deftly drawn world, a great conspiracy slowly comes to light…

“Slowly” being the key word, as that’s the book’s other main problem – it’s three quarters of the way through before The Fade becomes more than a travelogue. Luckily, Wooding gives us a world worth travelling through, rich in detail and populated with colourful characters. And when the plot does kick in, you’re in for a cracking finish as it all goes a bit Mission: Impossible meets Xena. It certainly doesn’t, ahem, just fade away…

Dave Golder

The flaw: The title of the book pretty much gives away a major climactic twist. Once you learn what a “fade” is, you can’t help but work out who the title refers to…