‘The Cathedral Of Known Things’ is the second book in Edward Cox’s innovative fantasy series set in a world where a giant labyrinth filled with demons separates a town of humans from the inter-connected worlds of the Aelfir. Picking up straight after the events of the first book, ‘The Relic Guild’, I was looking forward to exploring more of this wonderful world and seeing how the humans fared against the mighty Genii.
Van Bam, Clara and Samuel have escaped Labrys Town, with the aid of the mysterious Avatar, stepping through a doorway to an unknown destination and trusting the old motto that ‘anywhere must be better than here’. With the Genii in control of the town, the last remaining agents of the Relic Guild would surely have died had they remained and going through that doorway offers at least some hope of finding the powerful Thaumaturgists who are the only beings powerful enough to defeat the Genii. Yet, in the years since Labrys Town was isolated, not everyone has retained good feelings towards humans and, as the trio navigate their way through the Aelfirian realms, they must not only stay one step ahead of the Genii, but also avoid the Aelfir who are hunting them.
The second book in a series is always a tricky one, it needs to take all the good things from the first book and build upon them. If you’ve done a great job with the first book and left questions unanswered, it’s even more difficult because readers will go into that book with expectations, a list of things they want from the second book. I came into ‘The Cathedral Of Known Things’ wanting to see more of the Aelfirian realms, wanting to know more about the Genii and who they were and wanting to see more character development of our three Relic Guild agents. Cox delivered on all of them and more.
The story is told in a present strand and a past strand, so as we see Clara, Van Bam and Samuel go on their journey today. We’re also learning about events that occurred right at the beginning of the war with the Genii, before Labrys Town was cut off from the rest of the worlds. It works well because it leads us to little bits of information that add to the present day story and the two sections complement each other really well. It also helped to provide more back story about Samuel and Van Bam that added extra depth to their characters in the present strand. On occasion, I had to stop a moment and make sure I knew which time period I was in but, for the most part, they’re different enough to make the distinction straightforward
I think my favourite bit about this book is the exploration of other realms. We were given just a tantalising glimpse of them in the first book but they’re all so beautifully named that I wanted to explore them as much as possible. There really is a poetic touch to the naming – ‘Ghost Mist Veldt’, ‘Face Of Grace And Truth’, ‘Library Of Glass And Mirrors’. In ‘The Cathedral Of Known Things’ we get to visit quite a few of them, some before and after the war, too, and the places themselves don’t disappoint. There’s such variety in the different realms, it’s wonderful. If I could go on a road trip through a fantasy world this place would be high on my list of choices!
I had high hopes for ‘The Cathedral Of Known Things’ and Cox certainly didn’t disappoint, delivering incredible world-building, good character development and some truly thrilling plot moments that kept me turning page after page. If you haven’t yet started this series, I’d have no hesitation in recommending that you pick up book one, ‘The Relic Guild’ and prepare to explore one of the most inventive fantasy settings I’ve come across in years. I can’t wait to see how it all concludes in book three, ‘The Watcher Of Dead Time’, due to be published in August 2016.
(pub: Gollancz. 480 page paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-47320-034-0)
check out websites: http://www.gollancz.co.uk/ and www.orionbooks.co.uk