Daylight on Iron Mountain
It is 2087. Japan lies under a radioactive cloud, its denizens wiped out. America has been subjugated, its inhabitants scattered. The Old World is dead, buried beneath the new foundations of the New – Chung Kuo, a mile-high, globe spanning megacity. Billions have perished and history has been rewritten with their blood.
Over all of this one man reigns supreme: Tsao Ch’un – the Son of Heaven. But it takes one type of man to conquer a world, another to rule it. The Son of Heaven’s brutality has alienated even his closest general and in the depths of the grat city, rebellion has been unleashed.
The Great Wheel of Change turns. The fight for the future has only just begun.
Daylight on Iron Mountain is the second book and second prologue to the revised Chung Kuo series. The original series began with The Middle Kingdom, which is up next in the Chung Kuo Recast. I was thinking about why a series would need two prologues? Wouldn’t just one suffice as an introduction? Well having experienced the great ambitious scale on which this story was written in the first book, I would actually have to say no, Daylight on Iron Mountain shed light on this series from a completely different side.
In Son of Heaven, the first book of the prologue. The focus was on the, in that book the main protagonist Jake Reed and how he and what remain of his family was surviving in rural Dorset in 2065. With a great focus halfway in the book showing England before the Collapse when technology still made up an important part of Jake’s life. The second book of the prologue picks up two years later after Son of Heaven, and in the end jumping to 2087. In Daylight on Iron Mountain you do not follow Jake from the start. Instead the book switches the perspectives more to the Chinese side of it all and mainly on the self-proclaimed Son of Heaven, Tsao Ch’un.
Daylight on Iron Mountain starts off in 2067 with a scene where you are introduced with Tsao Ch’un. This was a great introduction because in the first book you learned that he was the cause of the Collapse but overall didn’t learn much more about his past and his motivation. This latter did became somewhat clear by what the other character mentioned, but actually seeing the story being told from his perspective added much more depth to the existing story and a certain brutal element to Tsao Ch’un’s character. David Wingrove uses Tsao Ch’un character to bring to you the world as it is now in 2067, by using Tsao Ch’un in showing this added for me the all important “see how strong and indomitable we Chinese are”. Japan is destroyed by and all out nuke attack and made uninhabitable for a few decades. And the Middle East has suffered the same fate. Now for America Tsao Ch’un has different plans because he doesn’t want to wait long before being able to walk on that land, and uses his superior manpower to blitzkrieg his way through the various states. It is of course fairly easy to just write down what Tsao Ch’un is up to, but David Wingrove, uses a lot of information surrounding it all to give it a much more powerful entry. Emphasizing both the effects on a more global scale as well as on an smaller scale. The global effect featured different countries and parts of the world and the smaller scaled dealt more with the people that served Tsao Ch’un directly and if they proved to be a thorn in the eye how he easily he got rid of them...
After you had learned more about Tsao Ch’un, David Wingrove introduces another character of the first book. Jake Reed. I knew his story wouldn’t end in Son of Heaven. Though he doesn’t make that important an important role anymore in terms of his impact on the ending of the story. He is used in a way, I think, to highlight what occurs in the normal way of life, if you can call it that. Especially in the later chapters, when he is fighting for his goals, but with the change in the world the western people are now a minority and this is exploited on multiple levels. In the first part of the book Jake’s past is being explored, by a company that wants to use Jake’s knowledge to breathe new life into the Datscape . A part of technology from 2043 that Jake mastered. It was actually more a matter of when the subject of cloning would be discussed. I thought that it would be used sooner or later and the introduction of Gensyn was pretty cool to read about. This subject, the cloning, always adds for me another layer to a story, when used appropriately. Because you never know what just might happen…
Now the ending chapter of this book show a fine rounded conclusion to the prologue of Chun Kuo Recast. Especially in the way it was brought on. As chapters go by you see how mad and brutal Tsao Ch’un becomes and how several other high players are rebelling against him. On a much smaller scale you see how several characters experience these events and how they deal with the consequences. Giving this edge of you seat feeling wanting to find out what will happen next. The ending of this book leaves it on a high promise for continuation for the next book in line, and the whole series.
Daylight on Iron Mountain features a lot of action. David Wingrove wants clearly to create a series of epic proportions an a to narrow focus on the action alone could completely overshadow the storyline and thereby taking away the focus on the rest of the world. David Wingrove managed to circumvent this in an neat. Explaining the battles outside of China by dialogues of different important characters, still giving you the information that you need to see how powerful they truly are. And to complete the whole picture you get the narrow focus of the story when several characters are confronted by Tsao Ch’un forces. It was great to read the story this way, allowing David Wingrove to move the story forward at a solid pace.
Daylight on Iron Mountain is great conclusion to the prologue of the series. Giving a nice continuation of the Son of Heaven. where Tsao Ch’un brought on the collapse. In writing two prologue’s David Wingrove managed to spread the storyline over two perspective and produce a well rounded story. Highlighting the events surrounding the idea behind the book not solely on the perspective of Jake Reed but also how Tsao Ch’un and several of his general see and act upon it. Writing shorter volumes will also make the books more approachable for many other readers instead of having to tackle doorstoppers each time.Added to this is the fact that the events that Tsao Ch’un sets into motion are viewed upon not only on a small scale level but that they are truly living up to the Chinese vision, a global takeover, total world domination. For me David Wingrove managed to create an interesting introduction into the Chung Kuo series that readily invites you to read on further.