Jay Posey’s Three: Legends of the Duskwalker Book 1 was the next recommended book on my backlist reading queue. After I got my monster fix out of the way, I figured I should get this novel back to its owner with a quickness.
Three is a cyberpunk post-apocalyptic romp (some may say Western, but I didn’t get that vibe at all) focused on a ragamuffin team of three: Three, a lone stoic agent and gun for hire who sells goods to the towns scattered across the wasteland, ends up saving Cass, a chemic addicted to Quint, and her son Wren, a super-cyber-natural six-year old with some spooky technological powers. For some reason—boredom, excitement, soft-heartedness, attraction, whatever—Three ends up helping them escape from their pursuers and soon enough the trio are bolting from RushRuin, a set of mind-hackers who are really bad news bears. As Three settles into his role as protector, the three decide to travel to Morningside where Wren’s father resides. First though, they must pass through the Strand, a land populated by the Weir who are some kind of zombie cyber-transformed machines/resurrected people who incapacitate their prey and drag them back to wherever they go to do whatever they do to make more Weir. The Weir track their victims through their digital links to the whatever-cyber system, which has become inherited like blonde hair or blue eyes.
Notice how I’m saying whatever a lot?
I’ll put it out there right now that this is a good book. If you’re on the fence about trying it, I’d say go for it. But see, here’s the thing. You won’t enjoy the story unless you let your imagination become a willful participant in it. A lot is left unanswered. There may be two more novels in the series, but even the first book has a lot that will not be addressed. If you’re like me, the kind of reader who feasts on backstory, that might give you some trouble and frustration.
Posey slips in just enough information to give you a sense of what’s going on and allows your mind to make assumptions. When characters do take the time to talk their past out, there’s barely enough scraps to weave a tangled web, but oh, your imagination is going to try. We have no idea how the world became a post-apocalyptic technological wasteland—the world just is what it is. We have no idea how the Weir came to be—they’re just a part of the world like the lack of trees and grass. We have no idea how Three became a gun for hire—we learn he was once part of a sect of Houses that did…something before they fell. Through context I figured they were whorehouses or special assassins genetically engineered to not be cyber-linked, but that could be anyone’s guess. He somehow made a terrible mistake that might have resulted in a good friend/past lover losing her leg or her child, but once again, not totally sure. Cass and Wren are called different names by RushRuin, but it’s unclear why. Cass’s past is probably the most fleshed out—and by fleshed out, we get a few pages where she talks about her life choices.
For someone like me, where backstory is the tastiest morsel in the story, I was pulling my hair out. I mean, Favorite Character, Dagon, is a part of the House too and Three and him have this talk about brotherhood and what it means to not be forgotten—but everything I might have pulled from that is pure conjecture. I was starved for detail, yearning for nuggets that would explain where these people came from. When it was dropped, it was like a gulp of fresh water. For others, it might just be that novel they’ve been looking for—something that makes the reader actively participate instead of being force fed, of allowing the imagination room to breathe and create and actively think about Posey’s world.
So, yeah. It’s a good book.
It’s also a very action-packed novel. You want sneaky stealth and then crazy fist fights? You got it. You want the big Weir battle to include running for your life, uncovering secret passageways, and then slaying the beasts? Check! As Three pushes Cass and Wren to their destination, it’s also like he’s pushing the reader too. You’re barreling to an inevitable end that feels very much like a video game—or maybe I’m just being influenced by all the people in my life playing Uncharted 4. I was halfway through the novel when I realized I hadn’t marked any relevant pages—no spots that really made me pause, think, and revel in the language. Everything was so fast, that I had to find the beauty in the sentences that seemed to speed by.
He [Three] drew his pistol then, checked the cylinder. One shot. Three’s head swam, and he was suddenly lying on the ground, next to Wren. So cold. Three lifted the pistol, slid its heavy barrel along the ground. Lined it up with Wren’s golden hair.
The Weir were closer now. Less than a minute, they’d be upon them. Three placed his finger on the trigger.
Other moments truly solidified the novel as a video game. Not only does the crew come with big burly modified twins, they also come with a seductress wearing a body tight skin suit.
Jez reeled backwards choking, but as Three advanced she snapped her head around, whipping her long braids towards him. Not realizing the threat, he tried to strike through the attack, but felt the sudden impact and sting across his faces as the razortips woven in her hair bit deeply into the flesh of his check and neck and brow.
I’m sorry, but: I whip my hair back and forth, I whip my hair back and forth!
As for our antagonist, Asher, I was incredibly interested in how he came to be who he was. I got the background information from Cass—spoilers, he’s her other son who wants to have a hopeful incest relationship with is mother—but when Wren described his brother it seemed like a kind of multi-personality disorder:
Asher had set him down [Wren] and stared at him with a smile. “Oh Spinner,” he’d said. “Oh, little, beautiful Spinner.”
And then his smile had gone away, and he got The Look on his face, the one he had when you just didn’t know what he was going to do and it could be anything or nothing at all. And then he’d said, “How I hate you, you stupid little boy.”
Like I’ve said before, I’m a little obsessed with the idea of brothers and this one made me even more interested. Asher has the ability to break people’s minds. Wren has the ability to do something similar which leans more towards controlling those minds. They have different fathers, but I couldn’t help wondering if perhaps Asher had gotten in some kind of trouble where he had to upload his mind to a server—some kind of suicide before the body was destroyed—and when he came back he didn’t come back the same. Then, his mother was freaked out by him and left him. From our brief meeting with Asher, he’s described as arrogant and cruel, but I felt like there’s more than meets the eye. Once again, conjecture. Once again, there isn’t enough backstory or character-character interaction to help explain this. Give me Cass and Asher in the same room and let me watch the resulting chaos. Hell, give me more of Dagon and Three in the same room and I’ll be one happy camper.
There’s too many unknown variables for me not to read the other books—I mean, what if something gets explained? What if backstories are answered? I mean, probably not, but what if? What if, guys? Maybe I’m just a backstory addict and I can’t accept the alternative: that nothing will be explained and my mind will just churn with possibilities, making up my own storyline, inventing my own revelations.