Thursday, September 24, 2015

Whispers of the World that Was by ES Wynn (Storm Constantine's Wraeththu Mythos) #review #fantasy

Title: Whispers of the World that Was (Storm Constantine’s Wraeththu Mythos)
Author: ES Wynn
Publisher: Immanion Press, 2015

Those who’re into the gothic beauty of Storm Constantine’s creations may well recall the world of the Wraeththu with great fondness. Constantine was initially responsible for two trilogies, The Wraeththu Chronicles and The Wraeththu Histories, which were pretty much required reading among lovers of dark fantasy. Subsequently Constantine has gone on to release other titles in the same setting, but has also breathed new life into her mythos by opening it to select authors, of which ES Wynn is one.

In my mind, the Wraeththu fall somewhere between vampire and angel – beings that inherited the Earth in Constantine’s post-apocalyptic, post-technological vision. Neither male nor female, the Wraeththu express qualities of both in addition to possessing the ability to shape reality magically. Naturally, a world in upheaval provides prime fodder for storytelling, as characters transition from the old to the new.

ES Wynn has more than done justice to the setting by telling the tale of Tyse who, when we meet him, works as a salvager aboard a vessel crewed by other Wraeththu. They sift through the debris of humanity for any useful items, which they then trade for their necessities. Things take a turn for the worse, however, when Tyse salvages a meteorite that has unusual properties. His discovery brings down the unwanted attention of a mysterious foe hellbent on destroying Wraeththu culture before it has had a chance to pick itself up out of the ashes of humankind.

Wynn’s writing is lush and detailed, and he effortlessly evokes a post-apocalyptic setting so vividly, that it’s possible to taste the dogwood berry wine, so to speak. If I dare to compare his style to another’s, I think back to the sensual textures I encountered in vintage Poppy Z Brite, and leave it at that. Readers with particular tastes will understand. Ghost and Steve. Um, Hello.

While those who’ve read the Chronicles and Histories will certainly get some of the more obscure canon references in Whispers of the World that Was, this knowledge is not a prerequisite, primarily because Tyse himself is largely ignorant of what it entails to be Wraeththu. All in all, this is a satisfying read, and a worthy addition to an established fantasy mythos that deviates from standard visions involving dragons, mages and elves.

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