Heraclix and Pomp: A Novel of the Fabricated and the Fey
by Forrest Aguirre
Edited by Mark Teppo
Review by Drew Bittner
Underland Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781630230012
Date: 14 October 2014 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Heraclix is a gigantic surgical composite given life by Mattatheus Mowler, a centuries-old sorcerer looking to cheat death and his demonic creditors. Pomp is a tiny woodland fairy who lives perpetually in the present, with no understanding of past or future.
When they get together, both of their lives will be forever changed.
Heraclix seems to have no memory of his past life (or lives, to be technical), yet he has a broad depth of knowledge, including several languages and details of villages far from Mowler's cramped laboratory. When Mowler brings a captive fairy to sacrifice for Beelzebub (to whom Mowler owes his soul), Heraclix cannot abide the tiny creature being hurt and perhaps killed. Despite his brave resistance to the sorcerer, however, it is an accident that brings about Mowler's seeming doom and freedom for both fairy and stitched-together golem.
Almost immediately, Heraclix runs afoul of Graf van Helmutter, an officer in the army of the Holy Roman Empire and a former student of the mystic arts. He manages to injure Heraclix gravely, forcing the composite man to flee. With Pomp's help, he makes his way on a journey of self-discovery. Who or what was he before? Why is his bluish-white left hand possessed of a murderous will of its own? And why was he created by Mowler, his amnesiac spirit dragged back from death?
As mysteries gradually unfold, the peril around the two grows. Pomp is forced to revisit memories--something her kind simply does not do--to fathom how a young man once brought to Faerie connects to their plight, even as her consciousness evolves in new, uncomfortable ways. Heraclix, meanwhile, begins to learn how an oafish giant named Caspar and a mysterious soldier-turned-healer factor into his new existence, but the ultimate answers yet elude him.
As they travel to Prague and then onward, it is clear that Heraclix and Pomp have a reckoning ahead of them. The shadow of Mowler hangs over them and the force of wrath that his von Helmutter--with his aide, Major von Graeb--closes in. When Heraclix reaches the end of his journey, though, everything will be different.
Forrest Aguirre has written a delightful first novel in Heraclix and Pomp, forming an unlikely partnership that is weird and wonderful both. They face trials and tribulations, wherein both are forced beyond what they know themselves to be in order to survive. Heraclix must discover who he truly is, while Pomp must choose between her life of live-in-the-moment mischief and something deeper and more meaningful. The story delves quite neatly into the struggle to create one's identity and how dependent that is upon memory, as well as what fate and free will have to say about the subject. Aguirre's characters are vividly drawn and instantly memorable, making their way through a 19th century that is both brutal and beautiful.
Bringing together disparate elements in a clever, singular fashion, Heraclix and Pomp is a delight for readers of quality fantasy.