The Liminal War
by Ayize Jama-Everett
Cover Artist: John Jennings
Review by Wes Breazeale
Small Beer Press Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9781618731012
Date: 09 June 2015 List Price $16.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
In 2012, Ayize Jama-Everett introduced us to his world of liminals--people with powers like those in movies or graphic novels, though with considerably less spandex. Think more along the lines of Netflix's latest Daredevil series or the movie Push, rather than Superman or Spider-Man. The Liminal People was a thrilling, thought provoking and gritty read. If you haven't read it, or if you last read it when it was released, a re-reading is called for before picking up The Liminal War, Jama-Everett's much anticipated sequel. [Spoilers for Liminal People ahead.]
Chronologically, The Liminal War picks up three years after the end of Liminal People. But in terms of pacing and feel, it seems as if it picks up right where Liminal People left off. Taggart, the central character, has the power to control bodies--not in the sense of making them do things, but in a literal sense where he can alter a body down to a molecular level. He's a healer, though his abilities were perverted and corrupted by Nordeen, an ancient and more powerful liminal to whom he was indentured.
Taggart's daughter, Tamara, is a powerful telekinetic and telepath, and his adoptive daughter, Prentis, has the ability to control animals. After rescuing Tamara and Prentis from the clutches of a powerful liminal named Alia, Taggart told Nordeen that he was done being his slave. Nordeen did not take it well, declaring war on Taggart and his allies.
The Liminal War starts with an abduction that hits close to home for Taggart and Tamara and the rapid introduction of some new characters with entirely different sets of powers, powers not necessarily of the liminal sort. Taggart immediately suspect's Nordeen's hand in this and seeks aid from new acquaintances that are connected with his lover, Samantha. Their search leads them around London, the globe, and ultimately, eternity.
Where Liminal People is a quick thrill ride that rarely lets up, The Liminal War is a slower, more contemplative book. Jama-Everett introduces concepts and characters that take a bit more processing to get used to and understand. He takes a world that was, if not exactly our world, a close approximation and adds in some elements that might be considered a bit more fantastical and less science fictional. This includes a plant based sentient life-form billions of years old, beings comprised of entropy, and a human representative of the four winds. And surprisingly, within the context of The Liminal Wars, it all makes sense.
The Liminal War broadens and expands Jama-Everet's world building and introduces an intriguing variety of new elements. Not all of these happen seamlessly, and perhaps just a bit more explanation would have solved a couple of these issues. But overall, the connection to elements in Liminal People that easily could have been overlooked is wonderful. Characters and concepts mentioned in passing play key roles in The Liminal War, and it's pretty fun to have those connections revealed.
The Liminal War is a deserving sequel to Liminal People, and a unique book in its own right. It will make you look forward to another in the series, hopefully arriving sooner rather than later.