Second books can be difficult things. We rather liked Ed Cox’s first book, The Relic Guild, which was crammed full of action and had an endearing rambling style that made it hard to put down. The Cathedral of Known Things is the sequel and it handles the curse of the follow-up quite well by being both more of the same whilst being filled with fresh ideas at the same time.
For a start, it’s still a blend of horror, fantasy and civilised steampunk adventure. It’s also quite a bit more cinematic than the first book. Last time we saw The Relic Guild, it was obvious that their lives were going to get worse before they get better. Thrown together by fate, this broken but still strong team of freaks and weirdos find themselves having to do the right thing yet again.
Cox has taken the time to explore both the world and his characters with this sequel. The Guild is part typical fantasy adventuring party and partially a superhero team, and this time round we get to learn more about what makes them tick. Not only do we discover more about the heroes, but the scenery-chewing bad guys also get to have their own backstory as well. Add on top the gentle bringing together of existing storylines and some rather entertaining self-discoveries by the main characters, and what we have here is an excellent middle book.
The Cathedral of Known Things is, very much so, the second bit of a longer story; starting in the middle is a truly terrible idea. Cox spent ages in the first book making you like the damned characters; in the second book it’s simply assumed we know enough about the heroes to care. For those of us already invested, this is a very good thing. The Cathedral of Known Things leaves us wanting more. Roll on the third part of this trilogy, the sooner the better.
THE CATHEDRAL OF KNOWN THINGS / AUTHOR: ED COX / PUBLISHER: GOLLANCZ / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW