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Novels of the Nightside
Simon R. Green
Ace Books
Volume 1 Something From the Nightside
Volume 2 Agents of Light and Darkness
Volume 3 Nightingale's Lament
Volume 4 Hex and the City
Volume 5 Paths Not Taken
Volume 6 Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth
Volume 7 Hell to Pay
Volume 8 The Unnatural Inquirer
Volume 9 Just Another Judgement Day
Volume 10 The Good, the Bad, and the Uncanny
Volume 11 A Hard Days Knight
Volume 12 The Bride Wore Black Leather

Novels of the Nightside
Simon R. Green
Simon R. Green was born in 1955 in Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, England. He obtained an M.A. in Modern English and American Literature from Leicester University and he also studied history and has a combined Humanities degree. After several years of publishers' rejection letters, he sold seven novels in 1988, just two days after he started working at Bilbo's bookshop in Bath. This was followed by a commission to write the novelization of the Kevin Costner film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. He is a British Fantasy Society (BFS) member and still finds time to do some Shakespearean acting.

Simon R. Green Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Blood and Honor
SF Site Review: Drinking Midnight Wine
SF Site Review: The Good, The Bad, And The Uncanny
SF Site Review: From Hell With Love
SF Site Review: Just Another Judgement Day
SF Site Review: Deathstalker
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Coda
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Return
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Return
SF Site Review: Drinking Midnight Wine
SF Site Review: Beyond The Blue Moon
SF Site Interview: Simon R. Green
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Destiny
SF Site Review: Swords of Haven
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Honor
SF Site Review: Twilight of the Empire
SF Site Review: Deathstalker Rebellion

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Nathan Brazil

'Hidden away deep in the hollow heart of London is another city, another world, another reality. Where it's always night, always dark, always three o'clock in the morning. Nightmares go walking in borrowed flesh, and not everything that looks back at you with human eyes is really human. Who watches the watchmen? Who preys on the predators? Who gives a damn, in the night that never ends? I'm John Taylor, private investigator. Tall, dark of eye, and handsome enough at a distance. I take the cases no-one else will touch, because I have a special gift for finding things. This is the Nightside. Don't say you weren't warned.'
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One lead character adventuring through an even dozen titles, aided by a solid cast of reoccurring major characters, handfuls of minor characters and one shots, half a dozen running themes, plus individual side quests that can cover a quarter of a book. So far, it sounds good though not so very different from any other fantasy series. But this is the Nightside, where nothing is ever quite the way it seems. The Nightside is a small city, located somewhere beneath London, and accessed via the London tube network. People can arrive there accidentally, but most of those who enter know exactly where they are going. In the Nightside the darkest needs of the human condition are catered for in all their compelling, addictive and grotesque forms. All books in the series are first and foremost the story of John Taylor, the supernatural son of a creature from Biblical legend. Not that you'd know from looking at him. Taylor appears to be a surly human, lingering on the cusp of middle age. Just about the only thing to make him stand out visually is his spotless white garb; a magically enhanced trench coat, complete with its own defences, and lots of pockets in which Taylor keeps all manner of useful stuff. This can range from one-off lethal spells, to condiments. Tossing pepper in the eyes of a rogue demon is a simple, yet effective defence. But what really ranks him as one of the most dangerous and feared individuals in the Nightside is his special gift. At first this seems rather underwhelming, with the gift used in his mundane work. Taylor has set up as a Private Eye, based in London proper, where he can avoid the constant attempts on his life that he faces whenever he's in the Nightside. Only when a case tempts him back into the place where he was born do we get the first glimmer of how useful, and occasionally deadly his special gift can be. What is the gift? Well, Taylor can find things, anything or anyone. Taylor can know the ultimate weakness of an opponent just by opening his third eye, his private eye, or get a line on pretty much anything. The gift has its limitations and inherent risks, one such being that in the early part of the series, using it instantly makes him visible to the ever-questing supernatural eyes of those who have been trying to kill him since birth. Naturally, circumstances mean that he often has no choice but to seek, regardless of what he might find, or what might find him down a dark and lonely alley.

I'm writing this review some months after finishing the last of the Nightside books, with the deliberate aim of seeing what remains wedged in my memory. First and foremost I recall how much fun these novels were, and the ingenious often deeply twisted invention that their author continually deploys. Parts of it will only make sense to British readers, or at least those sufficiently steeped in British culture. Mostly this takes the form of sly references, and in jokes, but the majority of what is on offer is accessible to all. Green's exuberant style and obvious enthusiasm helps to push this series up among the most entertaining works I've ever read. Simply put, he has a knack for writing deliciously convoluted if fairly linear plots, and does so with a healthy disrespect for any rules or conventions of the writing game. The overall impression I got was that if he thought an idea was good enough then he'd use it, with an utter disregard for whether doing so might compromise the credibility of the world he'd made. The Nightside books do have some constants, but this is not the kind of work where everything is explained right down to the last molecule. What the author has created is a marvellous, sprawling, dark and irresistible playground, where literally anything goes. For so many other talented authors, this loosely organised chaos would spell literary disaster, but for Simon R. Green it just works. Most of the time.

Another great plus is the author's engaging characterisation. Ideas are plundered left, right and centre, and rebuilt in charming, quirky ways, that make them both endearing and very readable. Some of the regulars include Suzie Shooter, a disfigured, psychologically damaged woman, who has turned being a sociopath into a full time career. Then there's Julien Advent, a fine upstanding fellow known as the great Victorian Adventurer, who sans flag, is not unlike a very British alternate to Captain America. Alex Morrisey is Taylor's best friend, and a direct descendant of Merlin Satanspaw. That legendary magician's body rests in a supernatural graveyard, located beneath the ale house that Alex runs; Strangefellows, the oldest pub in the world. We also meet Walker, which is both a name and his title. Walker is the face, and sometimes punishing hand, of the mysterious and murky Authorities who run the Nightside. Also making frequent, often murderous appearances, is a stinking, tramp-like figure who is Taylor's some time friend, occasional ally and eventual opponent; Razor Eddie the punk God of the straight razor. So the list goes on, rarely flagging and almost invariably turning up characters who are larger than life and in several instances twice as ugly. This is not to say that the Nightside is without beauty or tenderness, it's just that such things usually come at a price. And not necessarily a financial one. Does Taylor's gift make him invincible, the King of the Nightside in waiting, as some call him? Or, like the rest of those who dwell in the perpetual darkness of the Nightside, is there a whole lot more to his story than meets the eye?

As quintessentially British as fish and chips, Simon R. Green's Nightside series is a delight from beginning to end. It contains many epic ideas, yet is not stuffy and academic like Lord of the Rings. Nor does it take itself as seriously as most other long running science fiction/fantasy series, and it's never guilty of pushing any agenda that has nothing to do with fiction. The Nightside books are, unashamedly, all about having a bloody good time reading works that have more than their fair share of "ics." Fantastic, comedic, sarcastic, caustic and heroic are just a few that spring to mind.

Copyright © 2012 Nathan Brazil

Nathan Brazil
If Nathan Brazil were dyslexic, he'd be the dog of the Well world. In reality, he's an English bloke who lives on an island, reading, writing and throwing chips to the seagulls. Drop by his web site at www.inkdigital.org.


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