William Brown reviews The Nameless, the final entry in Luke Walker’s excellent and action-packed Nameless trilogy
It’s been six months since the earth- (and mirror-) shattering climax of The Mirror of the Nameless, and the world is partying like it’s #FreedomDay2021: ‘a soundtrack of non-stop parties blasted from the surrounding streets. The gods were gone and everyone was celebrating all day and all night.’ Those tyrannical, monstrous triumvirs Segoth, Gatur, and Naz Yaah, who have tormented the earth for the last thirty years, are nowhere to be seen — but any sense of triumph, or even relief at their retreat, is countered by the knowledge of what David Anderson glimpsed in the mirror at the close of the previous instalment: something terrifying enough to have sent the three gods fleeing, like frightened little children, ‘to the other end of the universe.’
Each of the three novels in Luke Walker’s excellent Nameless trilogy has a different first-person narrator. Narrating the third instalment is Brianna Jackson, the daughter of Brian Jackson from Day of the New Gods, and she’s a perfect choice; it’s great to have a female hero at the helm, after women have served mainly as quest objects in the trilogy thus far. Brianna is a total hardass, too, as an early run-in with a group known as the ‘101’ demonstrates: ‘I went for them at the same time, my hands like claws, hit their groins and squeezed their nuts with all my strength as they tried to reach for the guns secured to their sides.’ She fights dirty, gouging out the odd eyeball with her bare hands; not once is she reduced to the level of mere sex object.
Everything comes together in The Nameless. Remember Bertram Fitzgerald Makepeace? He was the mysterious 20th century author whose work David Anderson’s daughter Ashleigh obsessed over in The Mirror of the Nameless, convinced that his writings held the key to vanquishing the cosmic tyrants once and for all. Whilst Walker has given only brief hints of his monsterverse’s mythology up until now, he brings it into scintillating focus here, revealing himself to be as adept at writing fantasy as he is at action. A painting in Makepeace’s mansion, curiously alive, shows the other world:
‘Every blade was alive and it swayed to its own mad rhythm no matter which way the wind gusted.
Eyes and mouths. More mouths than I could ever count. And teeth.
Close to frozen, I kept looking. Mountains behind the plains; peaks and valleys and inaccessible areas where only shadows moved. Emerging from the forests between the plains and the mountains, creatures were visible.’
As in the previous two novels, the action never lets up. Brianna and Dave’s mission is to solve the riddle of William Percival Makepeace’s writing, in the hope that it can help them to defeat the Nameless — the ‘Daddy’ of the gruesome gods, come to claim our world for itself.
Whilst the zombie-like minions of the three gods served as secondary antagonists in the previous two novels, here the human threat (the aforementioned 101) is a group determined to prevent Segoth et al from returning. As with the previous instalments, and despite the very-Orwellian sounding ‘101’, Walker doesn’t over-egg his dystopia with daft names and jargon: narrative propulsion is sovereign, and social critique is mercifully subordinate to sheer survival horror.
The Nameless is a deeply satisfying conclusion to the trilogy. As well as the usual non-stop barrage of action and gore, Walker emphatically delivers on the Lovecraftian mystery that has previously been simmering in the background. These books really are a delight, and I hope that there are more to come.
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