The Year of Our War by Steph Swainston Gollancz $105 However fantastical the make-believe worlds authors create, the most intriguing are always those somewhat familiar, be they the codes of conduct, thought processes or settings that seem futuristic but are a touch medieval. Steph Swainston's debut fits comfortably in the fantasy genre, but is an unusually hip offering: characters dress in jeans, swear and read newspapers even though they may kick about in castles and fight with bows and arrows. One, a so-called immortal named Jant Comet, even has a drug habit: he trips on 'cat', which transports him to a different reality where the dead are full of life. Jant, a former street kid, is one of 50 immortals serving the emperor of Fourlands. Their job is to protect mortals from insects that have for 2,000 years tried to infiltrate and destroy the Kingdom of Awia. Readers may have to wade through a dense narrative filled with unusual names and made-up words, but the effort is worth it for those who enjoy the surreal. Another reward is the promise of continuation - The Year of Our War is the first in a series by Swainston.