Procession of the Dead is Shan's first adult work. And does it show?
That's a very difficult question. This edition being a supposed “directors cut” it certainly moves away from whatever YA elements I was anticipating, and was written well, funny in places, and a captivating read. Procession of the Dead is also a suitably moribund title, and Shan doesn't shy away from killing (lots and lots) of people. The cover, however, does do nothing to dispel ideas that this is aimed at a younger audience, which is a shame.
Procession is very gritty and dark, and although I was slightly disappointed by how late the magic came into the novel – it had up until that point just been a well-written crime novel --, when it did come, it was surprisingly creepy, and utilised ideas that aren't that commonly used. I particularly enjoyed the links with the Incan people – each chapter (and some characters) are named after a month in the Incan calendar – but I would have liked a stronger explanation of why certain things happened.
Capac Raimi (June in the Incan calendar, I believe), the wannabe gangster suddenly employed by The Cardinal – the most powerful man in the city, with infinite resources, loyalty … And strange, almost life-like puppets with beating hearts… --, was the main protagonist and we saw everything from his (first-person) point of view. While it was a fun ride with him, and he was a very interesting character, I found some of the things he did at the end of the book a little unexpected. A character of more interest to me, Paucar Waimi – the probably psychopathic murderer – was quite entertaining in a disturbing way.
This is a good book, and the characterisation was one of the best bits. Sadly, though, there seemed to be a sudden change in many characters attitudes towards the end of the book, but on the whole, I was surprised by just how good this was. I'll be there for the other two books in the trilogy, though this book was fairly self-contained. There is also a rather cool thought at the end on what it's like to be immortal and un-killable … While having hold of some weapons of mass destruction…