My Church treasurer and I have a love of Jasper Fforde’s books 1. So I was thrilled this Christmas when I discovered that he’d acquired the UK release of Fford’s newest novel, Early Riser, as a gift for me. The US release isn’t until February 2, so I got to read it a couple of months earlier than many of his other US fans. As Fforde hasn’t released anything for over two years, I could not wait to delve into this new novel.
I have been able to both write and independently publish a satirical fantasy novel, In The Land Of The Penny Gnomes. And so I feel comfortable saying, “To write a decent satire, the author has to be somewhat twisted.” After reading Early Riser I have to say I can only hope to become as twisted as Jasper Fforde.
As with Fforde’s other novels, Early Riser takes place in an alternate earth. There are enough similarities between our world and the novel to keep things familiar 3, but the way the world functions is alien. In the case of Early Riser the chief divide lies in the chief evolutionary advantage in a world that has been slipping into an ice age on steroids for millennia – in Early Riser humanity hibernates. Well, most of humanity, anyway. There are those who remain awake during winter, either by choice or by physiological make up. The main protagonist, Charlie Worthing, is one of these “Winterers.” As a Winter Consul, Worthing is part of Winter’s law enforcement. He then stumbles into the main conflict, learns the ropes, and makes moral decisions which save the day from the evil corporation’s latest evil scheme.
There’s nothing hugely distinct in Worthing’s journey, but there doesn’t need to be. The stars of Early Riser are the characters and the world Fforde has built. Worthing’s world is filled with it’s own geopolitics, evil corporations, urban legends, and social outcasts – and each bit of the whole has its own impact on the way the novel unfolds. I wish I could say more, but I really do not want to give way any of the plot 4.
I could not put the novel down, and can’t wait read it a second time so I can see what I missed. If you like quirky English Humor, and the sharp social commentary it is able to bring, Early Riser is a book for you.
- We even went to see him do a book signing a few years ago, which was really fun. ↩
- Actually on my birthday, which is kind of cool. ↩
- Bonanaza! was a big hit on both worlds, for example. ↩
- It’s not too hard to figure out where the story is going, but the desire to see how it gets there never fades. That’s about as high praise as I can give. ↩