Agents of Light and Darkness (Nightside Series #2)

Agents of Light and Darkness - Simon R. Green John Taylor is back in the Nightside with his ability to find anything, anything at all, anywhere.Which makes him in high demand when the Grail disappears – the Unholy Grail. The cup that Judas drank from. A cup that corrupts all those around it, a cup that could very well bring about the end of the world.It’s in the Nightside and lots of people want it. More than people – the Angels of Light and Darkness want it as well – and they’re willing to rip apart the entire Nightside to get it. They’re not subtle and they’re awful investigators, but no force can stand against them for long, and everything risks being utterly destroyed before they’ve finished.Which leaves Taylor the problems of finding the Grail, deciding who to give it to – and making sure the people who want it don’t get the Grail first and don’t kill him to stop anyone else getting it. And with Nightside under threat, the big powers of the strange world come out to fight.This book is fantastic. It seems to be a theme of the series – the fantastic. The Nightside is a place that contains literally everything – in all its wonders and its horrors (mainly horrors). The world has no rules and anything exists there – the richness of the imagination of this place is incredible. From magic to sci-fi, gods to aliens, monsters – to things I can’t even describe, things that don’t fit in any category, they’re all amazingly imagined.And it’s all very dark and very gritty. Nothing is pretty or sweet or generous or kind in the Nightside. Even the apparently harmless is dangerous and there’s a well maintained theme of constant risk, of constant menace in the book. There is no downtime or safe space – and that isn’t just because of the story, but a constant theme of the Nightside itself. The only safety the characters earn is because, as John Taylor and Shotgun Suzie, they have a reputation as people who are extremely dangerous. The only safety is being a bigger threat than those who want to hurt you. And it’s not just menacing, it’s disturbing. It’s never as simple as just bad guys who want to kill you – bad guys who want to kill you are nice and kind combined to what half of what the Nightside does. The menace here is a surreal, almost nightmarish quality and linked to just how strange and fantastic the world is.What I find most impressive is not how both of these are introduced – the fantastic and the constant menace – but how it is constantly maintained with little references, new figures, new powers introduced just to show another facet of this strange and terrifying place.This maintenance of theme also did a lot to establish the sheer might and fury of the angels (even if they started out almost dismissed when Taylor artfully turns the two factions against each other). No matter how many horrors we saw, how much power the Nightside shows, the invasion of the angels was destroying it. It also serves a lot to establish Taylor’s power – he rarely overtly shows his abilities in a menacing way and the ability to find anything does sound pretty minor – but the way everyone is afraid of him establishes his menace far more than dramatic displays of flashy abilities.Read More