In college, much of the time I should have spent studying was actually spent playing role-playing games; one of which was Wraith: The Oblivion from White Wolf Game Studios. Wraith was a difficult game to play and guide as a storyteller because the intent was to tell a story about recently departed spirits that have found themselves living in a low-tech dead world of decay and degradation with its own social structure. Inferno: A Sleep and a Forgetting would have been a perfect story arch for my years of playing Wraith.
The story arch of Inferno starts smart, through the eyes of a main character, Jacamo Terence who has recently returned to The Inferno, the city of the dead, a land he once new, a land that he has forgotten. And as the character both learns about this place and why he has forgotten it, the reader takes the same adventure inside an adventure the larger adventure – his reconfiguring of chess pieces on a dead ship. This layering of learning inside an undefined world allows Mike Carey to tell a much grander story where his imagination is the only limit – that and Michael Gaydos’ ability to draw.
I’ve been a fan of Gaydos for years – it was his atmospheric art that made me buy Inferno in the first place. He draws from somewhere deep in his psyche, inside his soul to build abstract but recognizable worlds. Inferno is strict black and white which adds to the feeling of world being dead but still full of some semblance of life. His characters are grisly and gruesome much of the time but Gaydos’ uses thinner lines and more whiteness to give them more emotion, contemplative or even in the most uncommon times, happy.
Inferno: A Sleep and a Forgetting was a strong, dark fantasy that I wish Carey and Gaydos would create more of.