This “extraordinary alternate-history fantasy,” set in an industrial London riven by class conflict and transformed by magic, is a steampunk classic (Booklist).
The discovery of aether changed everything; magic mined from the ground, it ushered in an Industrial Age seemingly overnight, deposing kings and rulers as power was transferred to the almighty guilds. Soon, England’s people were separated into two distinct classes: those who dug up and were often poisoned by the miraculous substance, and those who profited from it. Robert Borrows has always wanted more than the life of poverty and backbreaking toil into which he was born. During a visit with his mother to an isolated local manor, he discovers Annalise, the beautiful and mysterious changeling whom aether has magically remolded into something more than human. Years later, their paths will cross again in the filthy, soot-stained streets of London, where Robert preaches revolution while Annalise enjoys the privileges afforded to the upper class—the same social stratum that Robert is trying to overthrow. But even as they stand on opposite sides of the great struggle that divides their world, they are united by a shocking secret from their childhood. And their destinies will be forever entwined when their world falls to ruin.
A finalist for the World Fantasy Award, The Light Ages “brings a Dickensian life to the pounding factories of London” (The Denver Post) and “should hold great appeal to readers who love the more sophisticated fantasy of Michael Swanwick, John Crowley or even China Miéville” (Publishers Weekly).
The Light Ages continues with The House of Storms, set one century later.
“A meditative portrayal of an exotic society, fascinating in its unhealthy languor and seemingly imperturbable stasis . . . so powerfully recalls Dickens’s [Great Expectations] that this affinity animates the entire work.” —The Washington Post Book World “MacLeod brings a Dickensian life to the pounding factories of London in a style he calls ‘realistic fantasy.’ It’s a complete world brought to life with compassionate characters and lyrical writing.” —The Denver Post “Stands beside the achievements of China Miéville. A must-read.” —Jeff VanderMeer “An outstanding smoke-and-sorcery saga to rival Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy and China Miéville’s Perdido Street Station.” —Michael Moorcock
Ian R. MacLeod is the acclaimed writer of challenging and innovative speculative and fantastic fiction. His most recent novel, Wake Up and Dream, won the Sidewise Award for Alternate History, while his previous works have won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the John W. Campbell Memorial Award, and the World Fantasy Award, and have been translated into many languages. His short story “Snodgrass” was developed for television in the United Kingdom as part of the Sky Arts series Playhouse Presents. MacLeod grew up in the West Midlands region of England, studied law, and spent time working and dreaming in the civil service before moving on to teaching and house-husbandry. He lives with his wife in the riverside town of Bewdley.