My review of The Relic Guild by Edward Cox feels well overdue. I mean, I read this book towards the end of August! It’s a shame in a way that I have had so many other blogging commitments, meaning I couldn’t get around to writing this before now.
Better late than never, right?
The Relic Guild
Magic caused the war. Magic is forbidden. Magic will save us.
It was said the Labyrinth had once been the great meeting place, a sprawling city at the heart of an endless maze where a million humans hosted the Houses of the Aelfir. The Aelfir who had brought trade and riches, and a future full of promise. But when the Thaumaturgists, overlords of human and Aelfir alike, went to war, everything was ruined and the Labyrinth became an abandoned forbidden zone, where humans were trapped behind boundary walls a hundred feet high.
Now the Aelfir are a distant memory and the Thaumaturgists have faded into myth. Young Clara struggles to survive in a dangerous and dysfunctional city, where eyes are keen, nights are long, and the use of magic is punishable by death. She hides in the shadows, fearful that someone will discover she is touched by magic. She knows her days are numbered. But when a strange man named Fabian Moor returns to the Labyrinth, Clara learns that magic serves a higher purpose and that some myths are much more deadly in the flesh.
The only people Clara can trust are the Relic Guild, a secret band of magickers sworn to protect the Labyrinth. But the Relic Guild are now too few. To truly defeat their old nemesis Moor, mightier help will be required. To save the Labyrinth – and the lives of one million humans – Clara and the Relic Guild must find a way to contact the worlds beyond their walls.
I received a copy of The Relic Guild from Gollancz in exchange for a review, so firstly, a huge thank you to the team. It was one of many exciting book-post packages I received this summer!
Aside from the synopsis, the first thing I look at when deciding if I like a book is the author’s narration style. It’s make-or-break for me; it always has been. I have a natural preference for books narrated in the third person. The narration is also clear and descriptive, balancing the action of the story with descriptions of the Great Labyrinth and Labrys Town etc. The narrative also interchanges between two time periods; the War, which took place forty years previous and the present day. Chapters for each respective time period are clearly marked, making the story easy to follow.
The Relic Guild introduced a whole new concept of magic to me. The members of the Relic Guild are some of the last able to wield magic… and they each have different abilities. These abilities are almost second nature, or like a sixth sense, to the characters. Their attitude to the power differs greatly from each other too. In addition to this: weaponry, portals and other elements of the Labyrinth draw on external forces of magic. I have never found a book that as both “types” of magic, yet Edward Cox makes them work side by side so well.
I love the idea of the Labyrinth. It’s a magical place shut off from the rest of the world. In the centre, the remaining citizens live together in Labrys Town. Out in the maze surrounding the town, danger lurks around every corner. No-one can enter nor leave. Well, so they believed. Yet forty years on from the war he lost, Fabian Moor is out for his revenge against the Relic Guild. He may not be stuck in the Labyrinth, but he is a massive threat all the same.
There are a number of characters that have a crucial role to play and they are all distinct, well-developed people. Each member of the Relic Guild has a unique relationship with one another. With the exception of Clara, all were part of the War forty years ago. Clara, a former prostitute of Labrys Town has been hiding her gift. She is the first gifted person to be identified since the War, so she is a welcome surprise when the Relic Guild rescues her from danger. There is a lot of history, grudges and camaraderie between these characters and that is reflected well throughout the book. They feel like a community, a family even, as you would expect from such a close-knit group.
The citizens are protected by the Resident, who also happens to be head of the Relic Guild. His ever-watchful eye puts them in a position to observe the danger and attempt to protect the Labyrinth as disaster unfolds. The war isn’t over.
It has only just begun.