What would it be like to be the Charles Darwin of an alien world? Especially a world dominated not by thinking primates like ours, but by dinosaurs. Robert Sawyer's Toroca, son of savants on the Quintaglio world becomes just that during an expedition to the Southern Pole of his world. He wonders about the origins of the bizarre creatures he encounters there, arriving at the conclusion they are in fact birds - an unknown species except in the fossil record.
Toroca's father, Afsan, is meanwhile caught up in the defense of the Emperor of the Quintaglio. Facing more than simply a palace revolution, the future of the Quintaglio people may be hanging in the balance. Challenged by a brother to relinquish the throne, Dybo is coached by Afsan in preparation for a test of strength to answer the challenge. As so often happens, cunning, not strength, is the determining factor in the outcome. Afsan must also confront the novelty of murder, rare in Quintaglio society. Adding to the stress is the fact that the victims are his own children.
Sawyer develops the theme of a society alien to ours, but with significant parallels. His tactics in presenting the Quintaglio are effective. It's an interesting concept. The trilogy makes a good addition to any speculative fiction collection.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2005
I really enjoyed this book on its first printing but lost it in a move. I am looking forward to reading it again. Do not let the picture on the cover fool you, this book deals with subtly and very grown-up issues, but younger readers will also enjoy the book for the story alone.
Enjoy reading it for the first time or for the first time again...