Cover Image: Gogmagog


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Member Reviews

A fast paced fantasy book, with a writing style somewhat reminiscent of the Phillip Pullman trilogy. Thank you for privilege to preview the book.

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Thank you NetGalley for this opportunity to review this book.

It wasn’t to my taste I really tried with it as I’m trying to branch out slightly in my reading choices DNF

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This book is strange. And this is the biggest thing you need to know before getting into it. Everything in there is strange, starting from the world, progressing to the story, and ending with the characters. Every single aspect of it is strange. So be prepared.
Strange is not a problem for me, but it is a hard thing to classify, so there is some kind of strange that works amazingly well for me, and there is some kind of strange that doesn't cut it with me. Sadly this book was of the second kind of strange.
Mind me, this book is highly imaginative and fascinating, and there are a lot of things that I appreciated, but the strangeness of it revolves mainly around its dreamlike qualities, the whole book seems almost like a dream, and this is just not my cup of tea.

Up until the end of the book, I thought that all things considered, the book wasn't bad, just not for me, and I was thinking that my rating of it would have been 3 stars because the book has a lot of interesting things, and if you don't have problems with dreamlike setting and narration, you would probably appreciate the book more than me. Also, it's not the book's fault if I don't really enjoy the vibes and the atmosphere. So, I couldn't fault it for my personal tastes but... but there are a couple of things that made my rating go down.
The first thing is that, from time to time, we get some cinematographic cuts. I don't know how to call them. But you finish a chapter. And the scene in the next one is completely different. It's not that we are seeing some other POV or something like that. No, it's just that between the point in which the scene in the previous chapter ended, and the scene in which the new chapter started things happened and you don't know what they were. How did they arrive there? Why are they fighting? What the heck happened? It's not said. It was confusing. And abrupt. You were thrown in the middle of something, and you had no idea how you got there. Confusing as hell. And I was so taken aback by that!
And that was not the worst of it. The worst part of it is that this book does not end. And I am not talking about a cliffhanger (and I hate them, mind me. I hate them with a passion), but simply there is no end at all. There is some sort of conclusion for one of the characters, or better, we get to see that he wants something different from himself, he wants to find his way in the world, and he is on the verge of acting on that, but that has nothing to do with the main plot, and it is not really an end for him, it's just a hint to a conclusion so... this is just maddening. A book has to end, everything else is not acceptable in my book (pun not intended, but quite apt!). And this does not. That's the main reason for my 2-star rating.

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I LOVED IT! Gogmagog is a fantasy about Cady, an old sailor (and other things), and the voyage of the vessel Juniper along the river Nysis, that is restrained by the ghost of a dragon. The journey starts because of Brin, a child, with some secrets, that needs to be taken for a cerimony/ritual of coming of age. Other people (kind of) are going too, like a sentient robot and a young sailor. Along the story this group of misfits become like a found family that suffer difficult situations along the ghost of the dragon, all of them with their own problems and missions. The universe created is so interesting, is actually dificult for me to define it, because I was always feeling in the edge of fantasy with touches of sci fi between the cracks of the story. I could not define a fixed time, like is this world more medieval? victorian steampunk? with actual technology? I do not know, it feels like a combination of everything at the same time and it works. Moreover, some informations given along the story, like the bombs, the chariot that brought the Wodwos, the gas robots, all of these little things made me be always thinking and analysing how this world is like a box of things that normally I would not expect in a more standard fantasy. This book felt diferent, it made me curious, it engaged me to read futher, made me smile, made me angry and sad. Because of all that I absolutely loved it. Is a book that everybody will like and appreaciate? problably not, but is definitely different and because of that i think everyone should give a chance to it.

I read the ebook at the same time that I listened to the audiobook and I have to say that the experience was amazing. Would definitely recommend it.

Thank you Netgalley and Angry Robot for the ARC, all opinions here are mine and given freely.

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Authors Jeff Noon and Steve Beard have created a world rich in detail, a quirky, cranky protagonist with a mysterious past, and other compelling characters, and set them off together on a journey in an alternate London.

Arcadia “Cady” Meade has been a captain of her own boat for years, ferrying people to various towns and cities up and down the Nysis River through the ghost body of a dragon. She has one crew member, Yanish, whom she more or less adopted years earlier after his father died in the war between Ludwitch and another land.

Cady is seventy-eight years old, quick to anger and can see ghosts. She also has been waiting for something, and receives a message from the remnants of ghosts warning her about a bell, a gravestone and gogmagog.

She is soon afterward hired to ferry a bright ten-year-old girl, Brin, and Lek, her guard/artificial man, known as a Thrawl, to the city of Ludwich. Though not happy about the commission, or having a Thrawl aboard her boat, or that Yanish is calling himself the captain now, the four head down the river.

They encounter various people and threats, and eventually Cady's mysterious message becomes clear, revealing the meanings behind the bell, gravestone and gogmagog, and none of it good. We also discover Cady’s past, and her important role in the world.

I loved this story and its quirkiness, darkness, danger, humour, amazing alternate London and captivating, irascible main character.

The authors take us through a bizarre post-war landscape where the massive blast of a dying dragon left the creature's huge ghost covering the Nysis river, leaving the way tricky and treacherous. Everything is polluted and messed up, and different cultures and types of people (the wraith-like Nebulim are particularly intriguing with their clay bodies and life-sustaining candle-flames) have populated the ports along the way.

The prose vividly evokes the sights, sounds and smells that the characters move through, bringing the story alive in all its grotty, and often smelly, glory.

The characters are wonderfully well-conceived, whether human, artificial or half-human/half-plant Haegra. Their different personalities constantly bump up and grate against each other, due to the lives (grief, bigotries and hopes), and the outcome of the war.

I totally loved the clever wordplay which added much colour to the already incredible world. Cady is prone to amusing verbal and profane verbal constructions, though beware if you don't care for the prevalence of scatological humour.

What I didn't expect and that threw me somewhat was that though I thought that the perilous trip down the Nysis would have taken several days, the authors chose to compress all the frightening and terrible things they saw and did into one day, which felt unbelievable.

Overall, I liked this story tremendously, and eagerly await the rest of Cady's and Brin's adventures in this kooky and bizarre world.

Thank you to Netgalley and to Angry Robot for this ARC in exchange for my review.

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Interesting premise topped with a gorgeous cover is what drew me to this book in the first place. I really enjoyed the world building and the lore.

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An immersive and engrossing experience! This book felt like a twisted creation of the classic Jim Henson films mixed with Guillermo Del Toro. Readers are transported into an incredibly strange world where ‘people’ are not people but ‘other’ things. Mythic lore and magic runs rampant throughout and all the while you’re seeing it through the lens of a bitter ‘old lady’ who had journeyed many time and doesn’t take any crap from anyone.

The world is the highlight here. There’s not much to keep you grounded in reality, so if you truly want to escape into a strange universe Gogmagog is the way to go.

I really did enjoy it and the audiobook narration was also exceptional.

Definitely for the fans of Gaiman, VanderMeer, and even a touch of Tolkien for the depth of the lore.

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The thing that first drew my attention to this book was the unique concept of a journey through the ghost of a dragon - and it didn't disappoint! The dragon ghost lies over a sixty-mile section of the river Nysis, and the conditions of the river and the surrounding banks change based on the proximity to certain organs in the dragon's body. This made for an exciting tale with varied dangers and conflicts, as well as allowing for moments of levity. The descriptions of each section of the river are wonderfully immersive, and this, along with the lore that is sprinkled throughout the text, makes the world seem rich and established in history.

The post-industrial feel of the setting and the range of human but not-quite-human groups reminded me of Perdido Street Station by China Mieville, so I'd highly recommend Gogmagog for any fans of the former. The cast of characters were a diverse group consisting of members from a range of the different clans, and each had an intriguing backstory to explore. My favourite character was Cady, our main character: a foul-mouthed crotchety old sailor, she also has a softer side and an interesting past. As I found out more about her, she became more sympathetic in my eyes and I felt that her personality could be explained by the difficulties that she has experienced throughout her life. Rather than just being a funny gimmick, her habit of shouting out streams of creative insults is likely a way of her protecting her feelings by keeping her walls up. I also loved that although she is elderly, she is by no means helpless, being the most competent navigator and captain aboard the boat and sharing wisdom in many other ways. She has a special place in my heart!

The plot is definitely more about the journey than the destination, where the relatively simple goal of travelling from A to B for a ceremony is not really the most important part of the story. Towards the end, it definitely gets more emotional than I was expecting and some new reveals give us a sense of the direction of the conclusion to this duology in the next book without making the first book feel unsatisfying.

I really enjoyed this one and look forward to the continuation of this adventure!

EDIT: I have revised my rating from a 4 to a 5, because it left such a lovely impression on me that I can't think of why I didn't rate it 5 to start with!

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This is a fantastically weird fantasy read, with some truly unique concepts and peoples. It captured me right from the start with the brilliant character of Arcadia Meade, and I'm very much looking forward to the next book to round out the story, and discover more about this world.

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Cady Meade was once the best riverboat pilot in the world, and no one can say otherwise! Not where she can hear it, anyway. Now retired, she spends her days shaking her fist at the kids on the docks, and trying to beg her pension a day or two early, until Brin and her guardian contract Cady to take them down the river, and through the ghost of the dragon Faynr.

The worldbuilding in this - it's slow build, slower exposition, and hook into each and every one of our main cast - is fantastic. Secrets are held between them all like spiders webs, and the further into the dragon's madness we travel, the further the lies unravel. The cast itself is well-balanced, with just enough push and pull between them to keep things moving and interesting, and their abilities, drawn from their different races, is honestly delightful. I kind of want to run a D&D campaign in this steampunk world.

Slow-paced but compelling, this one is definitely worth giving a chance.

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A confession: this book was not for me. It looked like it should be - advertised as a book that would appeal to fans of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast books - and I had hoped for something more. It became apparent that this book wasn’t engaging, however; I preserved in the hopes it might pick up but, for me, it never did.

The comparison to Mervyn Peake does the book no credit. There are similarities, especially in the sometimes hallucinatory or dreamlike story but what the differences are more apparent: the prose has none of the poetry, the characters lack the compelling vividness of Peake’s and the background world has none of the solidity and detail of Gormenghast. If it has a comparison to Peake it is to Titus Alone - the final never completed, disorientating novel after it leaves Gormenghast behind.

For me, the characters never fully engaged and the world it is set in remained ill defined. There are hints that we should see the background as being an alternative London at some point after a sort of Second World War but the references to Gogmagog and King Lud appear just to be names plucked out of our and attached without connection to aspects of the fantasy world. It is hard to get a grip on the significance of what some events referred to might be. A young girl has to get to a particular ceremony it seems: at first it is intriguing, but the longer it goes unexplained and other unexplained references mount up the more I realised no longer cared enough to find out what was happening.

Thanks for the advance copy for review. I’m glad others enjoyed it more than me.

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Gogmagog is the latest in a fine tradition of Grand High Fantasy WeirdLit. You know those books you read, where you didn't know what the hell was going on but you were having a great time trying to find out? Well, that is fantasy WeirdLit and this is the newest kid on the block. To me, Gogmagog felt a little bit Gormenghast, but with a river instead of a castle, and a little bit Perdido Street Station, with that exotic list of characters, but a lot of its own. I loved a lot of aspects of Gogmagog and felt that it made up for the things that maybe just missed the mark. To be clear, this is not your typical fantasy fare and anyone expecting such is going to be disappointed. Do not join this crew if you are expecting logical plot progression and standard pacing. You won't find them in these pages and I think that adds to its charm.

To begin, the Worldbuilding. Well, we begin in the coastal town of Anglestume, which gives a fairly standard portrait of a coastal town. It's not until we reach the River Nysis that everything really kicks off. The river is covered by the body of the dragon Haakenur and influenced by the ghost Faynr. Unfortunately, Faynr is dying and so things are not great on the Nysis. This is where things get Weird and I loved it. The story is fairly standard but the worldbuilding just adds another dimension to it. I would love to know how the authors came up wit this stuff! Bonkers with a capital B and then some! But it is outstanding and it really adds to the whole. The characters also are another outstanding piece of Gogmagog. All the players here are non-human, with a large array of different people described. I was a little confused to begin with but some handy history lessons and a few plot points later and I had it sorted who was who and what. My favourite was Cady (I dare you not to be won over by this crotchety old woman) and Lek. They are a lively crew but not without their heartache. Poor Yanish got quite a raw deal!

Worldbuilding is all very good but you can't have a good WeirdLit without a successful atmosphere. Gogmagog has it in spades. Spooky, foggy patches of darkness ride in the river of strange that is this novel and if that sentence pleases you, this is the novel for you. It is spooky. There are periods of darkness. And there are some very strange going-ons. Add the superior worldbuilding and characters to this and we hit the spot. One area that might put people off is the pacing. To me, it meanders and surges as a river should, with periods of calm and then bursts of action. It is spotty and irregular but I think this suits this book to a tee. However, that is not everyone's bag. If you prefer the pacing to be a bit smoother, this may not be the book for you.

I very much enjoyed all the strangeness on the River Nysis and can't wait to see what happens to the crew in the sequel. If an outrageous plot with a non-human character list and mind-boggling worldbuilding is your thing, that I would highly recommend Gogmagog to you.

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I read this novel because I’m a great fan of Jeff Noon, particularly his very first novel Vurt and its trippy Manchester cyperpunk vision. This, in partnership with Jeff Beard, is Noon’s first venture into fantasy. Well it is a type of fantasy - the type which I’m comfortable with, in which our world has at some point in time been replaced by one in which the rules are different. Though in this novel there are dragons, magic and ghosts there are also diesel engines and aircraft. How you feel about that sentence will probably determine how you feel about this novel.

The set-up is a literary tried and tested trope: two unlikely characters on the run, here a little girl with magical powers, Brin, and her robot companion persuade semi-retired and half-plant captain Cady and her first mate Yannish to take them upriver to a vital assignation. Cady is a superb creation, and the novel is at its strongest when we view the action through her eyes.

The river itself is key part of the novel, following the contours of a long-dead dragon and with the magical afterlife of the beast providing different stretches with natural and animal obstacles to be navigated. Virtually all the action happens on boats and banks. Is it the Thames? The cover image would seem to suggest that it is, and there’s much playing around with Thames Valley-style names to suggest it might, without pinning it specifically.

The journey - Odyssey - is a sturdy narrative structure that propels us through the novel. Only in one or two sections does it fall prey to the ‘another riverbank, another set of creatures, another obstacle’ episodes that can bedevil the quest. Cady, Brin, Yannish and Lek are a great motley crew to go on this journey with. Many reviewers have commented that the ending is very abrupt. I don’t have a problem with that - it’s part of a duology and if you don’t like this book I think you will know very quickly. If you do like it you’ll want to read on.

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Utterly brilliant! The world is so well thought through and complex and so beautifully brought to life!

Our main character Cady Meade is a foul mouthed, outspoken, retired sailor. She is utterly disgusting but that’s why I loved her!
A robotic humanoid and a young alien girl are looking for Cady. Renowned for her navigation and skill sailing on the River Nysis, they need Cady to sail them safely through the sixty mile long ghost of a dragon. (Yes, you read that correctly. And literally too! Through the brain, through the kidneys, all of it! It’s truly magical)

However this ghost has taken ill, and so the river is perilous, but the young alien girl’s life may depend on this journey.

Most of the novel is set on one day. The journey itself upriver. You will meet a variety of bizarre creatures, some gone mad with the sickness. The characters are so well rounded, thought through and brought to life. You can picture aliens you’ve never heard of before, see the coast of a land you’ve never been and feel the emotions of these characters and they truly become a family during this journey.

The ending is very much up in the air. Cady is conflicted by everything that she has learnt on their journey, and we leave them as they approach the gates to the city. I cannot wait for the next book in the series! I need to know what happens next!!

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I adored this weird fantasy! The prose was great and so grossly descriptive. I loved the way the story unfolded in a meandering way that perfectly matched the twisty journey along the River Nysis. Never able to second guess what new and bizarre delights were coming, I found the overall tone grim but with constant punches of joy,
hope and intrigue. The found family were just as odd and delightful and I really took to every character. Oh Cady Meade you are a legend! Gross, volatile and with the best put downs, come backs and general sailor wife outbursts and musings, a secret magic connected to the earth and bigginings I couldn't help but hope these beings were alive and swearing nowadays. This was the perfect weird fantastical and I can not wait for the next installment!
Thankyou to Angry Robot and Netgalley for the arc, all thoughts are left voluntarily.

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I love Jeff Noon, I bought all his books and this one was high on my expected books. It was surprising, intriguing, compelling and another long list of adjectives.
It's perfect if you love authors like Mervin Peake or Andrew Caldecott as it could be a quest, a feverish dream or something totally new.
Great world building and storytelling, a fascinating story.
Wondering when we will read another Chronicle of Ludwich.
Highly recommended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this ARC, all opinions are mine

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This book was much like falling down the rabbit hole and waking in a fever dream… and I liked it. It follows Cady, a rum drinking, pipe smoking, retired Captain, with a bad attitude and the best line of curses I’ve ever heard. She is sought out by Brin, a troubled child with a dark secret and a thrawl who guards her. They need her help to journey down the river Nysis and through a 60 mile dragon ghost, which is as perilous as it sounds. There were sections which bordered on the nonsensical which was obviously the realm that this is within. It’s a book to take your time with and just be within the World.

Just when you don’t think it can be you anymore tied up in knots there is a tender moment between the characters.

‘You’re the apple of a different tree, but my roots are tangled with yours.’

This reminded me of books like Perdido Street Station, Neverwhere and the beings made me think of the Spirited Away movie. Thanks to the publisher and netgalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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As a plot-driven reader, there's just not enough here to hold my attention and make me want to finish. DNF @ 41%

The Writing:
This style of writing is very old school. It's primarily told through Katy's POV as 3rd person limited. I think that there's supposed to be an inherent humor in having an old lady cussing like a sailor, but it didn't seem that funny or interesting for me personally. Ymmv.

The Characters:
The characters feel very distant from the reader, and there aren't a lot of moments to see them shine either through distinct dialogue or the narration noting what they're doing. They're very flat and lifeless aside from maybe the main character.

The Plot:
This is a journey type of novel where the characters have to go on a quest together to get to a location. The book is being very precious in metering out the why's or even notable events to happen along the way, so I have no sense of why I should care. I feel like I've been reading for an eon but nothing is happening.

Audiobook Notes:
While I appreciate the narrator's use of various voices to be the different characters, I do find the main 2 (Katy and the mechanical man-- him in particular) to be quite grating. However the writing is rather dry, so having the audiobook definitely helps to get through it.

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I was given an ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Gogmagog by Jeff Noon and Steve Beard is a worldbuilding rich fantasy with a distinct voice and some really interesting ideas. Cady is a seventy-six year old ship captain who is convinced to take Brin and Lek across the sixty mile long ghost of a dragon.

Everything about this felt different and cohesive and incredibly immersive. There are seven different species with distinct features and we get a look into most of them, including religion and origins. Cady herself is actually of a species that is part plant and I really loved how the implications of that were explored.

The voice is going to be hit and miss for many readers, but I personally really liked it and was impressed with how quickly I knew exactly what kind of character Cady was. My personal favorite aspect was the worldbuilding, especially the stuff to deal with religion and Gogmagog himself.

I would recommend this to readers looking for a worldbuilding-heavy work and readers looking for a voice that is saltier, more mature, and gives the impression of a caretaker who does not care anymore about what is and isn’t proper

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I’ve read everything that Jeff Noon has written but unfortunately don’t think I’ve read anything by Steve Beard and I was so looking forward to this coming out.

and wonderfully it doesn’t disappoint and will be searching out Steve’s work!

A world of different people’s who all seem to have come from space with a mixture of technology levels, abilities, and worldviews.

Gothic, steampunk, magic, technology, all mix together to give a wonderful world to explore and gives that world an epic feel with all the back story about its settling and development.

This epic feel doesn’t detract from the personal of the Juniper’s crew as they travel along the river Nysis, the length of the ghost dragon Faynr to help Brin recover from what ails her.

Each chapter builds on the last and each was a revelatory window into the weirdness of the world that they inhabit and how their relationships grow over the length of their quest.

Gogmagog was the last giant to inhabit Albion, but here it is a shadow dragon, full of poison and bile.

There was a lot of word play throughout, especially when Cady let forth with tirades of abuse, and this added a beat to the book that I really enjoyed and made me think of passages from Vurt and other of Jeff’s works.

The end left a lot up in the air though this quest through distance is definitely concluded and it makes me wonder where the quest will go next.

I received this from NetGalley for an honest review.

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