By Adam Roberts | July 4, 2007
Categories: Book News
Short enough to be quoted in full, Andrew McKie's Telegraph review of Land of the Headless from Saturday 30th June (also, by pleasant synchronicity, my birthday):
Land of the Headless is billed as ‘a simple story’. This might not be your first thought as you read the tale of a man who is beheaded for adultery in a world governed by an extreme interpretation of Islamic law – though Roberts synthesises it with a fundamentalist Christianity heavy on old Testament values – but then continues to live , thanks to prosthetic senses and an ordinator fixed to his spine. John Cavala, the beheaded poet, finds himself in the army. His real journey though, is into the morality of the society that has punished him. Roberts provides more sympathetic voices and plausible arguments than might be expected from his satirical theme. How innocent, we begin to wonder, is Cavala? All adultery is rape in this world, but what of his crime? He uses words to defend, deceive, justify and condemn himself; so does literalist religion. This is a subtle parable, in a grave, perfectly appropriate voice.