You know, I finished this book last week and I am still working through the story, undecided as to whether I liked it or not. No, that’s not true. I did like the book, just not sure if I loved it. My feelings towards it are as enigmatic as its main character. The Vagrant isn’t just the title of the book, it’s the primary name for our protagonist! The quest our hero is on seems, at least initially, pretty straightforward. As we all know, few things are as simple as they first appear Right? This is a perfect example.
Armed with a sentient sword entrusted to him prior to the start of the book, our hero is also in possession of an infant, one untainted by the infernal touches of the invaders. Moving quickly and efficiently, the vagrant is more apt to use his wit than his blade in most situations. The reader quickly understands that this is a man on the run. From what or to what, we know not at first. Interacting with few and trusting even fewer, he manages to acquire a goat early on in order to supply the growing baby with milk. What I discovered soon after was that the goat was a character unto itself. Nothing special or magical, but definite comic relief in an otherwise dreary and dark world.
Danger lurks around every corner. Or should that be page? No matter the circumstances, though, our hero always puts his best foot forward. In the tradition of the Seraph Knights, he extends a helping hand or a razor sharp blade, as needed. Speaking of blades, the one he carries belonged to none other than Gamma of The Seven, Protector of mankind and one of the leaders of the Shining City. The Vagrant’s duty is to return the sword to its home and hopefully renew the strength of the remaining armies of man. For it seems the demons and their kin have begun to conquer more and more lands, subverting the survivors and turning them into pawns that it controls through innate magics.
A second timeline runs throughout the book, beginning eight years previously and slowly catching up until the stories converge. It is this other, older tale that truly defines the book. For you see, it holds the keys to all the mysteries being introduced in the present. You know how they say those who do not learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. Well, in this case, those you were in the past are doomed because of it! Trust me though, the primary story is eventually overtaken by the secondary one; for it reveals the truth in ways you cannot imagine.
There is a ridiculous amount of travel in this novel. I mean, like Two Towers travel. It feels like the vast majority of the book revolves around walking somewhere, whereas the actual destination feels like it will never be reached. Permeating throughout it all is a man who never speaks, a baby that grows into a toddler, a goat that shows courage and determination, and a revolving cast of others that serve a purpose for a time but eventually melt away (metaphorically speaking).
I am still in awe of the way the reader is kept abreast of the situations without the protagonist ever speaking a word. The Vagrant epitomizes the concept of where there is a will there is a way. His determination seems to border on lunacy quite often, but his aura projects such power and forcefulness that many bend to his will simply because it seems like the right thing to do. His need to finish his journey is tempered quite often by his chivalry towards those in need, regardless of their standing or level of humanity.
The Vagrant is different by far than any other novel I’ve read in this genre. It encompasses a heavy fantasy element without losing its foothold in a science-driven, post-apocalyptic world. It feels like a natural setting, the author leaving it to the reader to envision it all. Light on the details but heavy on the emotion, this book blossoms as the pages turn. It draws you in slowly without you even knowing you’re being enveloped. Peter Newman does a wonderful job of building a setting that is probably different for each reader. His expectation seems to be that the details he omits will be supplied by the reader, and he’s not wrong.
I’ve changed my mind. I loved the book. Maybe less for its story and more for its concepts. Go forth and purchase this. You’ll need to read it to believe it.
The Vagrant is his name. He has no other.
Years have passed since humanity’s destruction emerged from the Breach.
Friendless and alone he walks across a desolate, war-torn landscape.
As each day passes the world tumbles further into depravity, bent and twisted by the new order, corrupted by the Usurper, the enemy, and his infernal horde.
His purpose is to reach the Shining City, last bastion of the human race, and deliver the only weapon that may make a difference in the ongoing war.
What little hope remains is dying. Abandoned by its leader, The Seven, and its heroes, The Seraph Knights, the last defences of a once great civilisation are crumbling into dust.
But the Shining City is far away and the world is a very dangerous place.