The Hanging Mountains: Books of the Cataclysm No. 3
by Sean Williams
Review by Colleen Cahill
Pyr Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781591025443
Date: 05 June 2007 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
How brave are you? Would you sky dive, swim with sharks? How about read the third book in a four volume set without having read any of the earlier releases? I can say I have done the latter and actually found it less daunting than you would think. It was made easy with Sean Williams' The Hanging Mountains, which is the third volume in the Books of the Cataclysm series. This fascinating read drew me in and even without having seen the earlier titles, I was hooked on this exciting story in a very short time.
Two groups are traveling up the Divide, a deep channel in the earth that the floods have turned into a river. Habryn Kail is traveling overland with the Homunculus, a being that is actually two people living in one body. This strange creature is considered evil by some, but Kail is not so sure: Seth and Hadrian have a great deal of knowledge that could be useful. The second company is sailing up the Divide in a Hullfish boat, which is made from the body of a very large fish. Lead by Marmion, a Sky Warden, the party is sailing into the Hanging Mountains where they hope to find the source of the floods. The crew includes Change-workers, a prophet, a healer and even a Man'kin, a being made of stone. There are those who hope the journey will bring other discoveries, such as Chu who is seeking the people of the forest: they could be the only family she has left. When the boat reaches a fall, Chu gets her wish when the Foresters appear but their welcome is hardly warm. The adventurers soon find themselves in the middle of a war between the Foresters and the Panic, a nonhuman race who live in balloon cities that float above the clouds. Both the Foresters and the Panic claim the forests as their own and see the others as interlopers who must be destroyed. It is only when the Homunculus and Kail join up with the adventurers that deeper plots are revealed, ones that could endanger everyone in the world.
This book moves fast and it quickly swept me into the complex, beautiful and deadly work that Williams has so artfully crafted. In the second chapter, the boat is attacked by a large white snakelike creature, big enough to encircle the ship in its coils. The monster is made all the more eerie by its lack of eyes, nostrils or mouth. My heart was racing through this scene and I knew I had to finish this story. If an author can do that much in less than thirty pages, imagine how good the rest of the book will be!
Okay, I will admit diving into the middle of a series is not the most satisfying thing and I would not encourage any to follow my example. But I would recommend getting the earlier two volumes, The Crooked Letter and The Blood Debt, (which I will be doing) and then continuing on to The Hanging Mountains. If I thought it was good, just think how much better it will be when you have the whole story.