Roil, by Trent Jamieson

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Author’s website
Publication date – August 30, 2011

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Shale is in trouble – the creature-filled darkness known as the Roil is expanding, consuming the land, swallowing cities whole. Where once there were 12 metropolises, now only 4 remain.

It’s up to a drug addict, an old man and a woman bent on revenge to try to save their city – and the world.

Thoughts: The concept behind this book is a fascinating one, in which darkness is slowly taking over the world and transforming everything within it to something foul and violent and, in some places, genuinely creepy. The dead walk. Tiny moths flutter in your eyes and mouth and take over your brain so that you become a sentient extension of the Roil itself. And the shrinking pockets of humanity have to do their best to survive the Roil while also surviving all the other problems inherent with corrupt politicians and drugs and violence and all the other worldly vices.

A fascinating concept indeed. It’s regretful, then, that I found this book falling short of what I saw as its initial potential.

This book mostly suffers from a lack of descriptive consistency. Some things are beautifully described, and there’s no doubt of what characters are seeing, feeling, doing. Other things are glossed over. And I’m not talking about small things, either. The only clear picture I have of any of the Roil creatures is the Vermatisaur, and that thing appeared for about 5 pages. Things that appeared more often had brief descriptions of how they moved, how a part of their body looked, but nothing that could bring it all together in my mind.

The world of Shale and its history felt similarly. It felt like this was a book of hints, glimpses of some deeper story that could have made the whole thing so much richer if they’d actually been elaborated on and expanded instead of just glossed over and passed by. While reading this, I felt uncomfortably like I must have missed something. A previous book, some necessary prequel that would have clarified half of the finer details mentioned here. I felt like it was taken for granted that the readers would all be in the author’s mind, knowing what he knew and thus there was n need for elaboration.

It didn’t work that way. And I’m really sorry to see that, because as I said, the basic premise of the story was fine, and the kind of thing that you don’t want to read alone once the sun’s gone down. I don’t suspect I’ll be continuing on to the second book of the series after this rather inconsistent introduction.

(Provided for review by the publisher via NetGalley.)

One comment on “Roil, by Trent Jamieson

  1. A Review by Loren Foster
    Originally posted at

    Title: Roil
    Author: Trent Jamieson
    Publisher: Angry Robot
    Pub Date: August, 30, 2011
    ISBN: 9780857661845

    Format: Paperback
    Pages: 432
    List Price: $7.99

    According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary ( ) the word ROIL is a verb whose first known use dates back to 1590. Definition is given as: to make turbid by stirring up the sediment or dregs; to stir up; disturb; to move turbulently; be in a state of turbulence or agitation.
    Synonyms: boil, churn, moil, seethe.
    Antonyms: delight, gratify, please.

    In “Roil”, the first installment of The Nightbound Land, Trent Jamieson indeed toils through all the variations of the verb roil. Unfortunately, he has chosen to begin our tortuous journey bound to the company of David. As an addict, dependent on the antithetically named Carnival, David rarely rises above an emotionless state, seeming to exist solely as a means to move the story along as he is dragged through the muddy mire of an Earth called Shale.

    If not for the commitment to review this book, I would have stopped reading it soon after the first pages. I was agitated by the lack of detail of David’s city Mirrlees-on-Weep, or of a description of David himself. Granted, David does grow on you after a while, but it is a slow process like curing a bad rash.

    Margaret Penn and her city of Tate’s desperate decades long Roil engulfed struggle would have served up a much more moving and gratifyingly turbid start. She carries the weight and responsibilities of the worlds salvation with an Icy style and fashion that David lacks.

    Frustration with scanty clues to the worlds back history clashes and wars with tantalizing hints and foreshadowings. Monstrous creatures vary in credibility and details, such as the innocuously named Hideous Garment Flutes. A garment flute is a trumpet-shaped frill on a dress…what exactly is hideous about them?

    Jamieson proves masterful in his flesh rending gut twisting panoramas, inflicting trauma any E.R. surgeon would run screaming from. Battle scenes and fervent fields of gory transmogrification abound.

    Add to the mix the mystery and menace of the Old Men and their links to the enigmatic Engine of the World. Drift, a flying city home of the Aerokin with their symbiotic living ships (a la Farscape’s Moya ) literally leave things up in the air with the ending begging for the next installment “Night’s Engines”, if only in hopes of untying and making sense of all those chapter heading quotes that allude to a future in which someone survived to publish.

    Which brings us to the old adage, “Publish or Perish.” Will Shale, a lowly sedimentary rock compacted together by pressure, rise from the seething coils of the Roil, or will it succomb?
    Time will Tell the Tale in “Night’s Engines.”

    Loren Foster

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