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Domino Men, The

by Jonathan Barnes
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Product Details

  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • Publishing date: 27/01/2009
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-13: 9780061671401
  • ISBN: 0061671401


In an earlier century, Queen Victoria made a Faustian bargain, signing London and all its souls away to a nefarious, inhuman entity. Now, generations later, the bill has finally come due. . . .

Jonathan Barnes caused a considerable splash in the literary pool when he dove in with his head-spinning debut, The Somnambulist, a novel of the truly odd and exceptional that the Washington Post called "strange, magical, and darkly hilarious . . . an original and monumental piece of work" and Denver's Rocky Mountain News dubbed "the best fantasy novel of the year." In his second endeavor, the acclaimed author returns us to a strikingly similar world—albeit at a different time—ushering fortunate readers into his latest breathtaking cabinet of curiosities.

Henry Lamb, an amiable and anonymous file clerk, pushes paper in the Storage and Record Retrieval section of the Civil Service Archive Unit. His life has always been quiet and unremarkable—until the day he learns that he's expected to assume the covert responsibilities of his universally despised grandfather, now lying comatose in the hospital.

Summoned to the gargantuan Ferris wheel known as the London Eye, Henry receives his orders from Dedlock, a gilled and wrinkled old gentleman eternally floating in a pool of amniotic fluid. London, it seems, is at war, resisting an apocalyptic fate foisted upon it by a long-dead queen. A shadowy organisation known (to very few) as the Directorate wishes to recruit Henry to the cause. All he has to do is find "the girl" and save the world from the monster Leviathan, who can already taste the succulent metropolis that will soon be his to devour. Simple enough.

But there are formidable enemies lining up to oppose Henry, all gathering in and around the royal family. His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Arthur Aelfric Vortigern Windsor—the sniveling, overbored, underappreciated sole heir to the British throne—has been shaken from his resentful malaise by grisly, seductive visions of unrestrained power . . . and by an extremely potent narcotic called ampersand. And an unspeakable evil lurks in the cellar of 10 Downing Street: the twin, serial-slaying schoolboy nightmares, the Domino Men—so-called for their hideous desire and terrifying ability to topple every towering edifice in the city, one after the other . . . just for a giggle.

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  • Nice and strange without being too strange
    From Amazon

    This contemporary fantasy novel is about a file clerk suddenly thrust into the middle of a life-or-death battle over the future of Great Britain. Henry Lamb is the sort of average person who exemplifies the term "civil servant." One day, he is taken to the giant ferris wheel called the London Eye, where he meets a humanoid being named Dedlock living in a tank of amniotic fluid. Henry is forcefully recruited into The Directorate, one of those super-secret organizations that doesn't officially exist. For the past century and a half, The Directorate has been fighting an all-out war against the British Monarchy. Queen Victoria agreed to a "deal with the devil"; she signed over London and all its inhabitants to a multi-limbed being called Leviathan. Dedlock, who was one of the Queen's advisors, vowed to use any means at his disposal to stop it. Now the bill is coming due. Henry was recruited because his grandfather, now hospitalized in a deep coma, was a former high-ranking member of The Directorate. All Henry has to do is to find a woman named Estrella, who is the key to everything, in time to keep Leviathan from rising out of the Thames, and destroying London. In a cellar of 10 Downing Street, in an ultra-secure prison cell, are the Domino Men, the most feared serial killers in British history. They are two young men, who dress like British schoolboys, and who think nothing of killing large numbers of people, giggling the whole time. They seem to instantly know a person's deepest fears and insecurities, and enjoy exploiting the heck out of them. The Domino Men say that they know where Estrella is, and are taken out under very heavy police guard. They don't stay in custody for very long. Can Henry find Estrella and stop Leviathan before it turns London into a giant insane asylum? Here is a wonderful piece of writing. It's nice and strange without being too strange, it does very well as a thriller and it will certainly keep the reader's interest.

  • Creepy, sadistic, deliciously well-written urban fantasy
    From Amazon

    I haven't read much in the urban fantasy sub-genre unless you count Neil Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels. The other thing in the genre I can remember having read recently was Edghill's "The Sword of Maiden's Tears", which was okay but almost painfully an obvious projection of its target audience's wishes (i.e. lonely nerd girls wanting a broken elven prince to fix up and fall for). This is, as Americans would say, "a whole another can of worms", and there are indeed wormy, creepy, decadent, and just plain disturbing things in it. This is an England where the royal family is being eaten from the inside by the legacy of a demonic pact and a strange addictive drug, and where a government department is secretly tasked with binding a monster that could consume all of London and worse. That's the big picture. On the personal level, there are nasty little incidents like the main character forced to watch his girlfriend under the influence of said drug have frenzied sex with a man he detests, and the titular Domino Men - two agents whose role I never quite figured out - releasing into a crowded nightclub a powder that makes people sneeze uncontrollably till they bleed out from the lungs. To me, the worst thing about this sadistic pair is that they are not actually the "bad guys". The climax of the book is a scene of citywide pollution and horror worse than the aftermath of a nuclear bomb. To save England and possibly the world, the hero, like another a generation before him, has to sacrifice himself in a way repulsive almost beyond imagining. This is not what I call "technical fantasy", the kind whose authors seem to have either gotten muddled up with science fiction, played too much Dungeons and Dragons, or both. Writers like that tend to lay out rules for how stuff happens as if there are little tables of quantitative parameters in an appendix somewhere. Despite the modern setting of the story, Barnes understands that magic doesn't follow the same rules as physics, and that fantasy fiction has to have claws deep into mystery while somehow seeming to make sense. You can't even understand why some people do what they do, and certain phenomena remain inexplicable, even at the end. After a book like this, I don't sleep well at night, but I want to read more. Make of that what you will.

  • Didn't know it was a sequel
    From Amazon

    If I'd read the first book, I'm sure I'd have liked this better. It was well written, but a bit slow. It's not the author's fault I didn't know it was a sequel. That should have been on the Vine newsletter.

  • Facinating alternate universe book.
    From Amazon

    Really interesting read , I like the changes between our world and what the author has created. The lead character is reminicent of Johnathan Pyrce's character in Brazil. The story itself has some ideas that reminded me of Brazil and Neil Gaimen's story Neverwhere and yet still remains it's own story. It even has some clever humor sprinkled throughout in true British style. Good read.

  • Just can't get into it.
    From Amazon

    Every now and then you find a book that does not speak to you at all. You delve in and soon find yourself thinking about the lawn needing mowing. I have tried for several months to work my way into The Domino Men and just can't get there. Each time I pretty much want to do something else before I get even a few chapters in. This makes it hard to review, I find it easier to finish books I think are terrible than those that don't catch my interest at all, for you can't really identify why the book doesn't hit with you. I find myself, after attempt number six, giving up. Because I need to get a review in, I can only share my experience that this book didn't click with me. It would be unfair to say much more, and since the book has many reviews available, I will stay fairly neutral on the material and leave it to others. I can add only this simple thought; I was bored by it. Maybe I was hoping for a little more Neil Gaiman in there and when it didn't arrive, could not connect.

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