The Erstwhile: The Vorrh (2) (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

Erstwhile is Brian Catling's second installment of the Vorrh trilogy. Catling continues to develop a world that revolves around  a massive, self conscious forest in the middle of Africa that has proven itself capable of expelling colonialist and awaking prophets that help defend its boundaries. As rumors of another world war spread, strange creatures are appearing throughout Germany and London.  Mistaken for shell shocked soldiers or the mentally ill, they wind up in institutions where a few have recognized their unnatural behavior. They are the Erstwhile, the angles that failed to protect the Tree of Knowledge and been abandoned by God. 


Brain Catling fuses traditional mythology, historical locations, people and events, with his own created world to develop a style that lands some where between fantasy and speculative fiction. There are intricacies to Catling's story telling that are hard to discuss without giving to much of the fun away.  I can say that Catling has produced the most creative and engrossing trilogy that I've read in a long while.

— Terry


The Erstwhile brings readers back to the singular world and mind of B. Catling, continuing the groundbreaking storytelling of his hit The Vorrh.

In London and Germany, strange beings are reanimating themselves. They are the Erstwhile, the angels that failed to protect the Tree of Knowledge, and their reawakening will have major consequences. In Africa, the colonial town of Essenwald has fallen into disarray because the timber workforce has disappeared into the Vorrh. Now a team of specialists are dispatched to find them. Led by Ishmael, the former cyclops, they enter the forest, but the Vorrh will not give them back so easily. To make matters worse, an ancient guardian of the forest has plans for Ishmael and his crew. Meanwhile a child of mixed race has been found abandoned in a remote cottage. Her origins are unknown, but she has powers beyond her own understanding. Conflict is coming, as the old and new, human and inhuman are set on a collision course. Once again blending the real and the imagined, The Erstwhile brings historical figures such as William Blake and places such as the Bedlam Asylum, as well as ingenious creations such as The Kin (a family of robots) together to create unforgettable novel of births and burials, excavations and disappearances.

About the Author

B. Catling is a poet, sculptor, painter, and performance artist. He makes installations and paints portraits of imagined Cyclops in egg tempera. Catling has had solo shows at the Serpentine Gallery, London; the Arnolfini in Bristol, England; the Ludwig Museum in Aachen, Germany; Hordaland Kunstnersentrum in Bergen, Norway; Project Gallery in Leipzig, Germany; and the Museum of Modern Art in Oxford, England. He is the author of The Vorrh.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781101972724
ISBN-10: 1101972726
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: March 7th, 2017
Pages: 480
Language: English