The Book of the Crowman
Series: The Black Dawn
Author: Joseph D’Lacey
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: March 2014
It is the Black Dawn, a time of environmental apocalypse, the earth wracked and dying.
It is the Bright Day, a time long generations hence, when a peace has descended across the world.
The search for the shadowy figure known only as the Crowman continues, as the Green Men prepare to rise up against the forces of the Ward.
The world has been condemned. Only Gordon Black and The Crowman can redeem it.
First, a caveat: read the first book, Black Feathers, before reading this one. The Book of the Crowman is a direct sequel, and you will be so very lost if you don’t read the first book before picking this one up. Read my review of Black Feathers here.
Second, this book. Wow. Seriously. I think the premise and plot of this series are incredibly unique — while the idea of an environmental apocalypse isn’t new, Joseph D’Lacey’s take on it is. He combines the apocalypse with elements of religion and mythology and comes up with something unique.
As with the first book, The Book of the Crowman has two parallel storylines: Gordon’s and Megan’s. Megan has progressed on her journey on the Black Feathered Path, and you can see that in this book. I do wish I had gotten to know Megan a bit more, since a bulk of the focus is on Gordon’s story. But dear god, is Gordon’s story awesome. And the ending — OMG THE ENDING. I did not see that coming.
For me, this book has more biblical parallels than the first book (especially with the ending). The Crowman becomes more godlike and mythological in this book, becoming very much a mythical Messiah — someone who will come and save the world. Gordon pushes forward on his quest to find the elusive Crowman, becoming a bit of a mythical figure himself.
The Book of the Crowman delves even more deeply into the technology/progress vs. nature/the land/being green. In Gordon’s time, the Ward are the only ones with working vehicles. In Megan’s time, there are no cars at all. There are no cities. Society has, it seems, “gone back” to an older time. But in this case, the lack of technological advances means that the Ward lost the war. (Interesting, right?) What I got from this was while perhaps technology itself wasn’t bad per se, what people do with it is. Perhaps the hubris that accompanies humanity’s forward progress is ultimately what sets us back and destroys us.
Tangentially, I thought that the Ward began looking at technology as a religion of sorts. Note that I’m not saying science — I think that in some ways, the Ward worshipped technology and technological advances, not the science that brought about those advances. Which, again, brings us back to the religious-like overtones in both this book and its predecessor. (Note that neither book gets preachy; they both have overtones of religion, or how people seem to act when they’re part of a religion.)
And, really, if you want a religious parallel, read the ending. Highlight to read my thoughts: Gordon’s being the Crowman — and the way in which he died — had serious overtones of Jesus’s divinity and his crucifixion. In a sense, Gordon became a god — or at least a mythological figure, someone who can rally the people, who can be invoked during times of need. Much like Jesus. As surprising as it was for me, I thought that the ending was very fitting for Gordon’s story. Even though I was sad to see him come to that sort of end.
Overall, I truly enjoyed this book. I was lucky in that I could read the two books back to back, which allowed me to read the full story uninterrupted. I thought this book (and its predecessor) were unique; they took an angle on the apocalypse that I hadn’t expected. I would love to read more books by Joseph D’Lacey.