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Scar Night Mass Market Paperback – Nov 27 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Spectra; Reprint edition (Nov. 27 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553589318
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553589313
  • Product Dimensions: 10.4 x 2.2 x 17.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 259 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #608,691 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Campbell sets his stunning debut fantasy in Deepgate, a town wreathed in chains that keep it hanging suspended over a bottomless abyss, peopled by worshippers of Lord Ulcis, the god of chains, and tormented by a mad angel named Carnival. The author, who was a video game designer, renders Deepgate beautifully. It's a complex city of creaking metal links, stone and shadow, inhabited by priests, assassins and the boy-angel Dill, who will lead a journey into the abyss in a desperate attempt to save the city. Campbell has Neil Gaiman's gift for lushly dark stories and compelling antiheroes, and effortlessly channels the Victorian atmospherics of writer and illustrator Mervyn Peake as well. This imaginative first novel will have plenty of readers anxiously awaiting his follow-up. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

A vast network of ponderous chains suspends Deepgate over a dark chasm. The church of Ulcis dominates the skyline and the citizens' lives. When a Deepgate denizen dies, the body is cast, with appropriate rites, into the chasm. According to the church, Ulcis lies in the abyss. When he has enough of the sanctified dead to support him, he and they will rise and overthrow Ulcis' mother, Ayen, who bars men from the joys of Paradise. In the meantime, Deepgate battles intermittently with the nomadic heathens of the surrounding deserts, who worship Ayen. Deepgate is home to two angels, the 16-year-old male last descendent of one of Ulcis' companions, and the mad female Carnival, who, once a moon, hunts down and drains someone's blood and soul to remain alive. Almost torturously crafted in characterization, plot, and setting,Campbell's debutmay appeal most to those who like novels in the manner of Dickens, whose highly evocative, occasionally overripe, memorable style Campbell's recalls. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Welcome to the world of Deepgate, a city suspended by chains over a vast and mysterious chasm. Only after you have lived your life and died will you find what lies underneath Deepgate at the bottom of the abyss. The religion of Deepgate tells its people that they will find peace when your body is thrown or `sent' to the bottom of the pit where the God Ulcis waits with the noble souls of the dead to greet you. But is this true...? Are the priests or `Presbyters' hiding something? In death do the people of Deepgate find peace when they are cast into the pit? Or for thousands of years has the religion of this chained city been based simply on a myth...? That is what, Rachael, an assassin - known to Deepgate citizens as a Spine - is going to find out whether she likes it or not. Rachael has sworn to protect Dill, a teenage angel descended from a holy bloodline and together driven by a quest to save the city, of Deepgate they must travel deep into the abyss and face Ulcis if they want to succeed in their task. Will the creatures that they have been told are their enemies truly be their adversaries, or will the men they have been taught to respect and admire be their greatest threat...?

Scar Night, is a first novel written by Alan Campbell and also the first volume in the Deepgate Codex and it is a terrific start to what promises to become a thrilling saga. However, you can tell that the author has been heavily influenced by other fantasy classics, such as Gormenghast. Like Gormenghast, if you don't stick with it, Scar Night can be a little bit hard to get into. At the beginning of the book, so many characters are introduced and their role in the city is described in such detail that some readers may get a bit confused or frustrated.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I loved this book. I've read it twice so far and I've read the subsequent books in the series, Iron Angel and God of Clocks. If you like dark fantasy and steampunk than you should give this a read. I loved the feel of the story, it's different and unique from all the other fantasy novels I've encountered before. I've just ordered Alan Campbell's newest novel Sea of Ghosts and I hope I will love his newest work just as much as I have loved this series.
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Format: Hardcover
Lately I've picked up two books at the library at once. That way I have a better chance of at least one book being good. In that spirit I randomly chose Scar Night a few weeks ago. Well, in that short span of time I have finished Scar Night as well as its two sequels! I'm completely blown away by the talent of newcomer Alan Campbell.

Scar Night takes place in a very dark world that's totally consumed by religion. This world is centered on the city of Deepgate. Deepgate is an entire city suspended by chains over top of an abyss, below which the god Ulcis supposedly dwells. For the last 3000 years, every 'Scar Night' a rogue female Angel has killed a citizen, draining it of blood and thereby spoiling the soul's entrance to Ulcis' realm. I'd compare the setting of Scar Night most to the Planescape series of books - steampunk technology and magic presented in a very dark fashion.

Campbell starts this series off with an incredible pace. Scar Night grips you right from the beginning - the action never stops. This is extremely entertaining, but at times seems to come at a slight cost of lesser character development. Still, these characters are just being introduced in Scar Night so later books flesh things out more. And trust me, you will not be able to stop yourself reading the other books once you finish Scar Night.

Finally, the end of Scar Night is one of the best I've ever read. It answers many large questions, not just about the plot but about the nature of life itself in the Deepgate world. But even better than that, it opens up the world in a way that anticipates the next book in the best way possible. In short, the ending is both satisfying and tantalizing.

I cannot emphasize enough that if you have any interest in Dark Fantasy at all you should not hesitate, pick up Scar Night immediately!
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This, I feel, is an excellent fantasy novel. Dark, blackly humorous, and involving, "Scar Night" is also immensely cinematic, with settings and sequences simply jumping out of the page at the reader, thanks to the fantastic word imagery.

A well-written and interesting cast (in particular, the enigmatic murderous angel Carnival) keep the story grounded as a human drama amidst all the spectacle, no matter how bizarrely some of the characters behave. The world-building concepts are generally convincing and introduced with great care.

There are minors flaws and distractingly nonsensical moments scattered here and there, but nothing that would prevent me from awarding it a full five stars. A dark and very enjoyable fantasy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa265278c) out of 5 stars 63 reviews
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2658324) out of 5 stars A startling and mysterious story Jan. 12 2007
By Bookreporter - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Oftentimes when the term "fantasy" is bandied about, people conjure up immediate Tolkien-esque images: wizards, Elvish warriors, Rings of Power, trolls, and other elements of the genre that have become very typical. It is because that imagery is so commonplace that when someone comes along like, say, Mervyn Peake or China Mieville, and darkens the notion of fantasy with grit, gloom and intensity, readers really take notice.

Alan Campbell may soon tire of comparisons to Peake and Mieville, but that doesn't mean they are not deserved. Campbell weighs in to the fantastic, giving us the dreary and spectacular city of Deepgate in his debut novel, SCAR NIGHT. This endeavor, upon first inspection, could have been buried by its premise, but instead Campbell deftly weaves a startling and mysterious story through the dark streets of an equally mysterious city and leaves readers groaning for the sequel.

Deepgate is like no other city you've visited. It hangs suspended over a black abyss that is supposedly the realm of Ulcis, a God known as the Hoarder of Souls. Great chains hold the city in place...though what they're connected to none can rightfully say. Airships bring business and travelers to and fro, though why anyone would come here is another story. Deepgate is a wound, a dilapidated and sinister city where every road is an alley and every walk out is a potential last trip.

Then there is Scar Night. The foolish fail to stay hidden behind locked doors, for on this night, as she has for thousands and thousands of years, the angel Carnival comes to Deepgate to feed.

While this all may seem enough for a novel, there is oh so much more. Enter Dill, the last archon and now just old enough to begin his duties. Rachel, an assassin who is part of a force trying to hunt down Carnival, takes Dill under her charge. She is hard, cold and demanding. And then there is Devon, the Poisoner, who has his own devious plot to concoct a potion of immortality, which requires the gathering of souls.

Dill may seem to be the eternal youthful hero, but he is really far more detailed than you expect. In fact, one of the great aspects of Campbell's writing is that each of his characters is so well defined and so interesting that it is hard not to be drawn to them, even Carnival and Devon. Dill is likable in his naivete and his desire to succeed, as well as the weight of the burden of being the last of his kind. Rachel, though rough, has a side she refuses to yield to fully, holding back a piece of herself out of fear of losing herself forever. Campbell's most outstanding creation, however, is Carnival, the scarred angel who feeds and enjoys what she does but feels despair afterwards. None of these characters is cookie-cutter nor are they paper thin.

A second strength of the author is his utter disregard for laying out the bare bones of his story for readers. Getting into SCAR NIGHT may seem like work initially, but that is only because you are made to feel like you've just arrived. You cannot know everything about a place right from the outset, and Campbell makes you work for the information. He will give you the nuggets you need as you progress, yet you will still be left with questions.

What are those chains attached to?

--- Reviewed by Stephen Hubbard
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa265839c) out of 5 stars A new concept that worked Dec 27 2006
By Jessica L. - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up because it had a concept I've never seen before, and the author made it work very, very well. The idea of a city, suspended over a seemingly bottomless abyss full of ghosts, twisting and groaning on its rusty chains and fraying ropes that do not always hold being the BEST place to live throws you into a completely foreign world that I've not seen the like of. And don't forget to surround this city by deserts and other inhospitable regions peopled by radicals opposed to everything the city stands for.

It is a dark place. Despite Campbell's periodic references to the brightness of the sun and the cloudless skies it always felt to me like they were in a pit or a cave. Perhaps this was a result of the underlying despair of the "last" angel Dill and his inability to meet his self-imposed expectations, the novice Spine assassin who wants and loathes her job simultaneously, the vampiric angel Carnival who enjoys the hunt and the kill every month until the deed is done and then she loathes herself, the bitter and slightly mad poisoner Devon who believes the whole city owes him an impossible debt and knows nothing will bring his beloved wife back, and the obvious despair of the man who lost his daughter's soul to a murderer and is consumed with first of all avenging her, and then bringing her back.

Campbell seems to take a somewhat dim view of organized religion and his gods are much more like those from Greece, Rome, and Scandanavia then any now worshipped. Angels are not necessarily immortal, and apparently, from the hints, they follow Lucifer more in disposition than Michael being very egotistical and seemingly to reproduce they must impregnant human women which results in the death of the mother at birth (not a completely fleshed out back story, perhaps in the sequel we'll learn more). There's a lot of promise here for more fast paced and involved sequels. The plot twist is not forseeable and the conclusion is anything but foregone making it a good read in my book. I don't recommend it for someone who wants a happy ending and you need to like fantasy to wade through the jargon, but I highly recommend if for any fantasy fan looking for something NEW.
23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2658840) out of 5 stars Perhaps all will come clear in future books . . . Jan. 14 2007
By K. Sozaeva - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I agree with the reviewer from Beaverton, OR - although the ideas presented in this book are intriguing, it does feel like a video game. The characters are mostly one-dimensional, the action is uneven and the dialogue is stiff. That said, the idea is quite intriguing and I hold hope that future books in the series will help Campbell's vision to come clear. As another reviewer said, the city in chains, on chains, over the abyss, is a bold statement and the story feels very dark. I can imagine the many buildings - all crowding together and continually building up and up so the richer people can be up in the sun - the constant creaking of the chains, the rust and decay everywhere . . . it is a richly imagined world. Dill, the last angel in a long line going back to the great angel and battle Archon Callis who helped first drive the barbarians away from the city 2000 years ago, chafes against his duties in the temple and longs to be a battle archon, as his ancesters were. However, the priests of Ulcis, the god of chains and the Soul hoarder - especially the head priest, Presbyter Sypes - claim that the barbarians would never dare attack the city again and are kept under control with the constant barrage of poisons and toxins the people of Deepgate keep sending at them in their airships (similar to dirigibles) as created by Devon; plus they fear the loss of their last angel - so they keep Dill in isolation to "protect" him, keeping him innocent and naive. Devon, the head poisoner, is slowly dying from the constant exposure to the toxins he is responsible for creating, and bitterly mourns the wife he lost to the same type of lingering death (from the sound of it, she may have been the former Head Poisoner). On the surface, he appears to be the same gentle, charming man he always was (only with most of his skin turned to blisters and oozing), while under the surface he seeths; and murders people by draining their blood (thus rendering them unfit to be blessed, as blood is the soul and once it is drained the soul is lost) in his quest to create Angelwine, which will not only heal him, but make him immortal (he believes). He was sent the journals of the Soft Men, containing the formula, anonymously, but he believes the Presbyter sent it. One of the people he murdered turns out to be the daughter of a man called - always and only - Mr. Nettle. Mr. Nettle is a bear of a man whose sole purpose in life has narrowed to avenging his daughter. At first he thinks her death is the result of Carnival - an ancient, insane angel who stalks the streets of Deepgate and at the dark of every moon, takes a single victim, who she drains of blood, thus relegating their souls to Uril and the Maze since they cannot be blessed by the church. Carnival is heavily scarred so the dark of the moon is now called Scar Night. However, after the next Scar Night - when Mr. Nettle hunts Carnival but is passed over by her - he discovers that the murderer is indeed Devon. He then turns his attention to Devon. Scar Night also sees another unsuccessful attempt by the Spine - using untempered Adept and Dill's overseer, Rachel, as bait (almost getting her killed) - to destroy Carnival. Carnival's revenge when she is injured is often extreme. . .

I could go on for ages giving you JUST the basic plot without spoiling this book for you. It is INCREDIBLY dense and I had a difficult time plowing through it. However, I remind myself that I also had difficulty getting through both "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" series the first time and I now love both, so I will hold on to this book and hope that future books in this series will assist in bringing the first book more into focus. If you are a fan of dark fantasy or horror, you would likely find this book of interest. You may want to wait at least until the 2nd book comes out if you don't have the patience to wait to discover just where Campbell is going with this, but then again, you must make up your own mind. I know I will be waiting for the next book with interest.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2658744) out of 5 stars A promising debut with plenty to offer, but with room for improvement... Feb. 6 2007
By Robert L. Thompson III - Published on
Format: Hardcover
For first-time novelist Alan Campbell, best known as a designer/programmer of the internationally bestselling video game series Grand Theft Auto, Scar Night is a promising debut that has a lot to offer, both good and bad.

First off, the world that Alan Campbell has created is highly imaginative and memorable, dominated by Deepgate, a city comprised of chains suspended over the seemingly bottomless abyss into the realm of Ulcis, "Hoarder of Souls". Within the city itself are a number of distinctive districts (League of Rope, Bridgeview, etc.) that add personality to Deepgate, all of which is vividly rendered by Mr. Campbell. Unfortunately, aside from Deepgate, the larger world in which the city of chains resides in is only hinted at, and even when the action does take us to new locales, I found their portrayal much less engrossing and descriptive than that of the city.

Populating the world of Scar Night is a host of archetypical characters like the `naïve, wants to be a hero, last descendant of a legend', teen-angel Dill; the `torn between duty and my heart' Spine assassin Rachel Hael; and the `wise, yet hiding something' Presbyter Sypes with the Poisoner Devon playing the part of flawed antagonist and the ancient, insane angel Carnival & the out-for-revenge scrounger Mr. Nettle emerging as the book's antiheroes. Of these, I found the narratives of Poisoner Devon and Mr. Nettle the most entertaining and unique (with the scenes involving Carnival the most action-packed), though truthfully the characterization as a whole is very shallow and inconsistent - no one is really fleshed out with perhaps the exception of Devon; we never see relationships develop between characters though they act as if they have (Ex. Dill and Rachel); and characters constantly act out of turn with no explanations behind their actions.

Normally this does not bother me too much if the storytelling and pacing are strong enough to carry the book, but unfortunately this is another area where Mr. Campbell needs work on. While Scar Night starts out strong enough, the novel as a whole is a disjointed affair, with some chapters that had me absolutely glued to the pages due to the heart-pounding action, unique imagery and fascinating concepts that were depicted, while other scenes left me bored or unfulfilled, with the concluding chapters reading like a rushed and underdeveloped mess, despite all of the great ideas involved.

Fortunately, with Scar Night, Mr. Campbell has laid down the groundwork for a strong enough mythos - angels, fallen gods (Ulcis), undead, a god of Mazes (Iril), Heshette nomads, Ayen the God of Light, Spine assassins, an ancient weapon of mass destruction - that, despite the book's faults, was entertaining enough to leave me looking forward to the next volume in the Deepgate Codex, where hopefully by then, Alan Campbell's skills as a writer will have improved...
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa2658960) out of 5 stars doesn't quite match its potential June 20 2007
By B. Capossere - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Scar Night is the first book in a proposed trilogy and it's a decent and intriguing start, though one hopes that succeeding books do a much better job of realizing the potential in the backstory than Scar Night itself does.

The strengths of the book mostly lie in its background. One is the underlying mythos: a millennia-ago war in heaven, a god who waits in the abyss below a major city as they feed him their dead (along with the dead's souls) so he can create another army to storm heaven, a race of angels, a powerful church, a once-powerful group of heathens. Another strength is the setting--the city of Deepgate, suspended by massive chains over the god's abyss, chains that wind through the entire city, holding up houses and blocks (or sometimes not, as the chains are known to deteriorate). The character types, while somewhat familiar to fantasy fans, are also a solid plus: the assassin pained by her skill at death, a creature pained by its need to feed on humans to sustain itself, a head priest whose faith isn't as solid as it seems, the assistant who never knows enough. These are joined by two relatively original creations: Dill, the boy-angel who longs to match the stature of his ancestors who were great battle-archons that protected the city; and Devon, the master poisoner who is unlikable in so many ways but also charmingly compelling.

All of these strengths bring the book up to an average, solidly enjoyable read. But the book's weaknesses keep it from breaking beyond average and sometimes strongly disappoint the reader. For one, little of the background strengths are realized to their potential. The city could have been much more of a character in the story and while there are some nicely done passages in this vein, it just wasn't enough. One doesn't "feel" the city as one does say, in Mieville's New Crobuzon or VanDermeer's Ambergris. And the characters aren't fully fleshed out either, just like the city. Carnival, the vampire-like angel who needs to feed on "Scar Night" to maintain her seeming immortality comes closest (she reminds me, in paler fashion, of C.S. Friedman's Gerald Terrant in her Coldfire Trilogy) though we don't see enough of her through most of the book. The assassin, Rachel, deepens somewhat but only past the halfway point, and Devon is pretty solid all the way through, but in a pretty mechanistic sense as he is mostly driven by revenge. But the others vary greatly in their fullness of presentation. Dill, sadly enough, is merely a pale shadow for just about all of the book. Mr. Nettle is a strong character, but single-minded so that lessens his impact somewhat.

The plot, similarly, has lots of potential, but fails to fully achieve it. Sometimes events seem a bit arbitrary, happening as they do only for the plot's sake and not naturally due to character. Some events are simply too rushed, or feel very anticlimactic, such as almost all the experience with the god of the story. Battles, whether minor or major, are handled a bit perfunctorily, with little tension or excitement. And the look ahead to the next book is far too abrupt. There is also too much vagueness surrounding some of the mythology, especially as we get a closer view of its reality. By that, I don't mean that there are questions to be answered by future books but points that should have been clarified for the purposes of this book (don't want to give away plot points, so excuse my own vagueness on this point).

In the end, a solid three sort of book. The kind of opening book where I'll read the second book, but rather than buy the hardcover version of it as soon as it comes out (a sign of strong interest), I'll get it out of the library. And decide then if it's worth continuing the series. A mild recommendation due to its potential, with hopes that further books do a much better job of achieving its potential.

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