Friday, January 21, 2011

Liz Williams's The Iron Khan -- First Review

The Iron KhanIf you are a fan of the Detective Inspector Chen series by UK author Liz Williams, and you've been eagerly awaiting the publication of book 5 in the series, The Iron Khan (print edition), then your wait is -- Finally! -- over, thanks to the amazing efforts of the folks at Morrigan Books.

The Iron Khan trade paperback edition is currently in stock at via CreateSpace, an Amazon company. Morrigan also has plans for a limited hardcover edition to be available through Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore in San Diego. I have no additional information on the limited edition at this time, but I will post further details as soon as I have them.

The first review of The Iron Khan (at least the first review that I am aware of) has appeared. What's intriguing about this review can be summed up by a comment Liz Williams made in a recent post on her LiveJournal: "...reviewers often (as in this case) pick up on themes which were not intentional/subconscious, but which nonetheless seem to have emerged as dominant."

The review appears in Strange Horizons, and is penned by Kelly Jennings, who does double duty by reviewing the previous DI Chen title, The Shadow Pavilion, alongside The Iron Khan. Jennings writes:
In The Shadow Pavilion, Lord Lady Seijin, a dual-souled (one soul is male, the other female) immortal assassin, has been hired to assassinate Mhara, the new Emperor of Heaven. Having taken the throne, Mhara at once begins making changes. Some of Mhara's subjects welcome these changes. Others do not....

This theme -- both that change can be good, and that it will be resisted, often violently -- is the common thread running through both novels. With such a topic, the slide into cliché would be easy: simple villains opposing good, simple heroes charging the barricades. Williams resists that lure, writing situations to demonstrate that change in itself is neither good nor bad....

[In The Iron Khan] every plot movement from the opening pages turns on change. Indeed, we begin to see, reading this text, how throughout the series every relationship has turned on changes in social and spiritual attitudes, which have made possible bonds which were previously forbidden.... There is, further, the matter of Inari’s pregnancy -- her child, still unborn at the end of The Iron the reincarnation of Lord Lady Seijin, who was the enemy of Heaven throughout the previous novel; the enemy, also, of Inari and Chen. Not only does this suggest a major change for Seijin -- that the villain can change -- but consider what it says about Chen and Inari: their enemy will be their child, whom they will raise up and love. Is this not the definition of true change?...

At the end of The Iron Khan, Inari’s child, forecast to bring some major change to Heaven and Earth and all the several Hells, is about to be born. Considering who the child was and what he/she has been up to, even before birth, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

I've you've not read the Detective Inspector Chen series, then hopefully this review will give you just a wee taste of what you've been missing -- a series that is in a class all by itself. Please do read the full review on Strange Horizons. And yes, I'm prejudiced about the DI Chen series: I was fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to work (as editor) with Liz Williams on all five titles.

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  1. Info regarding availabilty is outdated. Unfortunately it is VERY difficult to purchase. Wish we could get updated info.

  2. Hi,

    As a fan (and also the editor) of Liz Williams's DI Chen novels, I'm indeed sorry to hear that you are having difficulty obtaining a copy of the last title, The Iron Khan.

    Unfortunately, the book is out of print through CreateSpace, the printer/manufacturer. Why a print-on-demand book should go out of print, well, that's a question to ponder at another time.

    I looked up the book (author: Williams / title: Iron Khan) on, and found a couple inexpensive copies. Of course, since it's out of print, some sellers have priced the book at more than $100, but I would just ignore them.

    You might consider contacting the publisher, Morrigan Books (they have a web presence; they are also on Facebook), and nag them as to why copies are no longer available.

    Good luck in your search.
    - marty