Publication year: 1971
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 1996
Page count: 175
Publisher: Book Studio
Finnish translator: Leena Peltonen
The Pastel City, also known as Viriconium, is the product of thousands of years of cultures which have all died away. Some of them invented rather high technology but most of the tech have been forgotten and the rest aren’t understood. Viriconium stands as the last bastion of civilization on the Earth.
But then, their king dies and his heir, Queen Jane also called the Young Queen, is challenged by another prospective heir from the North, Canna Moidart called the Old Queen. She’s the daughter of the king’s brother. The country is plunged into war.
The main character is one of the previous king’s elite warriors: Lord tegeus-Cromis “who fancies himself a better poet than swordsman”. After the king died, his warriors thought that they weren’t needed anymore and they left, each going his own way. Cromis lives like a hermit in a tower by the sea. An airship crashes nearby and Cromis rescues the lone survivor. The survivor turns out to be a passionate supported of the Old Queen and tries to kill Cromis. However, he doesn’t succeed and Cromis decides to go to the Young Queen and offer his help. The Young Queen gratefully accepts and sends him north to lead her army.
Along the way, Cromis gathers some of his old comrades. He also encounters an odd mechanical vulture which tells him that he must go to Cellur’s tower because the threat to the whole world is huge and Cromis is needed. However, Cromis ignores the bird and continued to north. The bird tags along, often reminding that he should be going to Cellur’s tower.
This feels like quest fantasy set in a science fiction setting. The characters ride horses and fly in crystal airships. Battles are fought with both swords and titanium exoskeletons. Cromis is a melancholy man and the whole world feels down right depressing. The only humor comes from the dwarf Tomb who uses the aforementioned exoskeleton to slaughter his enemies.
I liked the premise of the world: forgotten technologies left behind by long-dead civilizations. But characters left me cold and the grimness was a bit too much.