Daylight on Iron Mountain is book number 2 of the Chung Kuo series by David Wingrove. At first, I didn’t have intentions to read the second of book in the series upon just completing the first. However, I grew tired of deciding what to actually read next and so I got Daylight on Iron Mountain. I’ve had some problems with Son of Heaven, mainly in that it started really slow for the first half of the book. I’m glad to say that with Daylight on Iron Mountain (DoIM), the author has managed to not repeat that error. Whereas in Son of Heaven you have the takeover of the entire world by China, here in DoIM, the story is focused more on an internal threat than an external one, sort of. Also, we are introduced to a wider range of characters in this new book.We still have the main protagonist with Jake Reed but the book itself does not revolve around him. What I like most about DoIM is that it focuses a whole lot more on the “other guys” besides just Jake and his family.
Right of the bat, you’ll take a closer look at Tsao Ch’un. Being the main figure in this new world dominated by the Chinese, not much was revealed about this great man in the first book. Here, things change for the better. I’ve always said that in order for a book/story to captivate me, the author must and I repeat must, talk about the “bad guy” as well instead of just focusing on the main protagonist. Well, the author fulfilled that requirement with DoIM. One of the main plot line in this book is the internal struggle between the Tsao Ch’un and the Seven. The struggle for power to control the new world has everyone frightened and not sure of how to react. We also read about Jake’s family but it doesn’t feel important anymore because the book is not about them anymore.
There are a lot of interesting characters here in DoIM. The bad thing is with all the Chinese names thrown at you, you might have a hard time remembering whose who. Throw in the fact that many of them are related to one another and it can be a nightmare to separate the characters. The good news is you’ll eventually get used to it. Although many characters are thrown your way, only a couple of them drives the story forward. We have the mysterious Amos Sheppard, Li Chao Ch’in, and Shen Fu among them. Because the world was dominated by the Chinese against the will of the rest, you are lead to believe that all the Chinese men are evil. However, this is clearly not so What I love about this series is the range of emotions you’ll experience. At times you can be happy for the characters, sad, angry, grieving, etc.
One of the negative things I have to say for DoIM is that the author still does not paint a clearer picture of life in the new world. For example, you understand that your status in life now revolves around which “level” you reside in. The lower you are, the less fortunate you are. However, I wish the author would spend more time describing or going over with us more details of the newly forged world built by the Chinese. Also, once again, I do not find Jake or even Peter as interesting characters. I’m sure it can be implied that Jake will no longer be the main protagonist in the 3rd book. I’m guessing his son Peter will take over that duty? If so, I am praying that the author spice things up a bit. In DoIM, I was interested in finding out what would happen to Jake when he was battling the court case but don’t you think its sad when you pay more attention to what Jake’s lawyers would do than Jake himself? As for Peter’s side story attempt to get a contract approved for GenSyn, it was boring reading as well. Luckily those portions are short.
All in all, I still believe that DoIM is very worth reading. I like it a lot better than Son of Heaven because of a more interesting plot line and for the introduction of political intrigue. It was inevitable. I had a feeling that some type of internal struggle would occur in future books but I had no idea it would happen with the second book! Son of Heaven and Daylight on Iron Mountain acts as the prequel to the series and things are just about to get started. With these two out of the way, the original story published by the author a decade or more ago is about to begin! I can proudly say that I am a believer of the Chung Kuo series and will be following it closely as each book releases. Long live Chug Kuo! Oh wait…