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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent second chapter in a unique fantasy epic
The action in Dragonfly Falling picks up right where Empire in Black and Gold left off. And for those who haven't read Empire yet, this review will contain some spoilers about what has gone on before. The Wasp Empire has suffered its first major setback but they are unrelenting and press ever onwards, intent on dominating the Lowlands. In this book we are introduced to...
Published on 29 Jun 2010 by SteveA (UK)

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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's not really that good!!!
This is a book with an average of 4.5 stars and i think that that is very overrated.

I think the author creates an interesting story, but in many places throughout the first 3 books i found myself reading just to see what happens rather than enjoying the story. After the 3rd book i stopped because i had hoped that would be the end (the 4th wasn't out at the...
Published on 9 Sep 2010 by Mr. J. C. Walker


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent second chapter in a unique fantasy epic, 29 Jun 2010
This review is from: Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt) (Paperback)
The action in Dragonfly Falling picks up right where Empire in Black and Gold left off. And for those who haven't read Empire yet, this review will contain some spoilers about what has gone on before. The Wasp Empire has suffered its first major setback but they are unrelenting and press ever onwards, intent on dominating the Lowlands. In this book we are introduced to some new characters, including the much talked about Emperor of the Wasp Empire, a paranoid and bored man who wants to carve out a destiny for himself unlike any ruler before him in Wasp history. He is also willing to work with anyone and do almost anything to avoid what he sees must happen. Whilst juggling the politicking and press of the army, he pursues his own dark ambition which introduces us to a new mysterious Kinden and the hint of a dark, old and very dangerous power. Magic, in the main, is regarded as nothing more than superstition and sleight of hand. Kinden's Art is the only real reflection of power outside of what we would consider normal, but once again Tchaikovsky makes us question what we think we know.

Stenwold Maker has been talking for decades about the threat of the Empire, and sadly, his words have not been heeded. Long ago he witnessed the fall of one city, and now the Wasps lay siege to the Ant city of Tark. Ants are some of the best soldiers in the world. Their hive mind makes them implacable, a unified fighting force that is incomparable to anyone and yet as a race they are not able to adjust quickly and adapt to new ways. The Wasps have many artificers from many conquered Kinden, who bring deadly war machines the Ants have not faced before. Facing new tactics and a new way to wage war, the result is a messy conflict to put it mildly. Dragged into this maelstrom of blood and destruction is Totho and Salma. The former goes through quite an epic journey in this book, starting out from a dark place internally and by the end of the book he is actually in a worse position, stuck between a rock and a hard place. He make some difficult decisions, he effectively sells his soul, and yet finds joy and happiness in some unexpected places. Once again, Tchaikovsky offers no easy answers. Nothing is black and white, no characters are truly good or evil, and even those we may previously have disliked or have been encouraged to hate, are now objects of pity, respect and in some cases admiration.

There are a lot of other characters in what is an ever growing cast, who also move through important phases in their lives, so it is difficult to cover them all. Put briefly, Tynisa and her father, the amazing Tisamon, embark on a personal journey that will dramatically change both of them, but also our understanding of the Mantis Kinden. Salma follows his heart but the end of his journey is not what he or I was expecting. Stenwold must defend his home and rely on those, who at first, seem like some of the weakest allies he could ask for in a deadly conflict. Strength, heroism and sacrifice for the greater good is found in some remarkable places. A couple of other favourites of mine from this book were a new character called Parops who is a Tarkish Ant, and the slightly terrifying, Balkus, a Sarnish Ant and ally of Scuto, the Thorn Bug. Che and Archaeos seek new and old allies to stem the tide, as no one can ignore the Wasps anymore, and the story Stenwold has been telling is finally coming true. There are others I have not mentioned, but all our favourites are there, plus a couple of new faces.

Summarising this book is incredibly difficult as there is a lot going on and it is very much one chunk of a much larger story. Despite being a hefty tome I clawed my way through it in less than a week because I was just desperate to know what happened next to characters that I had grown to care about. Relationships are complex and realistic and all of the characters are very well drawn and unique. This is epic fantasy on a grand scale and I can see why Tchaikovsky mentioned in a recent interview it is likely the series will run to ten books.

New Kinden are introduced in each book, but we are never forced to read pages and pages of background, choking the plot and bringing the pace to a grinding halt. The information is introduced subtly, hinting at parts of the world we might never see, but Tchaikovsky has clearly thought about and planned out. If the story were to suddenly veer off in one unexpected direction, and sometimes it does, we do not fall off the map into a place marked only with a skull and crossbones. The history of the world is also introduced in a similar manner, carefully and when important to the story, and we have glimpses of what went before the current story. For me, this is how world building should be done, with care for the reader and with an eye on the pace of the story. This is a real page turner as the story grows more complicated and also more unpredictable, the lines between friend and enemy become blurred, and the future for the characters is uncertain. Terrible costs have been paid while others are well past due and it is very likely that some of our favourite characters will not make it. An excellent second chapter in a unique fantasy epic.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent epic fantasy, 31 May 2009
This review is from: Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt) (Paperback)
After reading and enjoying Adrian Tchaikovsky's debut novel Empire in Black and Gold last year, I was looking forward to Dragonfly Falling, the second instalment in the Shadows of the Apt series. While Empire did have its drawbacks, I saw enough promise there to believe that Tchaikovsky could deliver a really good series: the world was fascinating, the storyline had the potential to become suitably epic, and there was some good characterisation. All I wanted from Dragonfly Falling was more of the same, but on a more dynamic, epic scale.

Boy, did I get it - and then some.

Possibly the most pleasing aspect of this novel is the plot. While the storyline of Empire was solid, it took a while to get going and generally you had a feeling as to where it was going. Dragonfly, by contrast, explodes into life from the first page with an epic siege (one of two - yes, two - sieges in the novel) as the Wasp Empire clashes with the ant-kinden city-state of Tark. Around this brutal storyline Tchaikovsky skilfully weaves a number of sub-plots that carry on the stories of characters from the first novel, as well as introducing a number of new faces. Make no mistake, this is a truly epic story that combines hard-edged action with subtle webs-within-webs of politics, and Tchaikovsky deserves serious credit for the way he manages to juggle the respective story lines. The pacing is pleasingly fast throughout, with not a dull moment to be had.

Characterisation (which arguably was a little hit and miss in Empire) is cranked up several notches in Dragonfly. The novel continues the stories of the main protagonists from the first book, and it's good to see them develop more fully this time around. Stenwold's struggle with the responsibility piled on him is intriguing to watch unfold, but I was most impressed with Totho's development. He really does undergo some serious changes, and the struggle he faces as his old and new worlds collide is excellently handled. Cheerwell - one of my least favourite characters from the first novel - is thankfully largely sidelined this time around, though no doubt we'll see more of her in the next book, Blood of the Mantis.

There's plenty of new faces as well: Drephos the Imperial auxiliary-artificer is superbly creepy and unpredictable, as is Uctebri. As usual, new characters means new insect kinden, and as always it's exciting when new races make an appearance (there are a couple of very cool new ones, but I won't spoil the surprise!). The leader of the spider contingent (can't recall his name!) is also nicely drawn, as are the spiders as a whole - hopefully we'll see a lot more of them, as their society (and the inherent politics) appear very interesting indeed. Once again - with both old and new characters - Tchaikovsky develops complex, believable relationships that evolve over the course of the novel (the relationship between Stenwold and Arianna is a very good example). The strong military aspect of Dragonfly means that we get to see the true impact and horror of war on various people, and this is a theme that Tchaikovsky uses to maximum effect.

Having looked at my criticisms of Empire, I'm pleased to see that all have been rectified in Dragonfly. The prose is a more dynamic and visceral, and the novel itself - due to the skillful plotting - is more cohesive as a whole.

Verdict: With Dragonfly Falling, Adrian Tchaikovsky has basically taken everything that made Empire in Black and Gold so enjoyable, added some new characters and story lines to the mix, and then turned it all up to eleven. The result is a gripping novel that is easily one of the best epic fantasies I've read in some time, and I'm now feverishly anticipating the third instalment, Blood of the Mantis. Highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than book one...in fact one of the best 2nd books of any series I've ever read!, 29 Sep 2009
This review is from: Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt) (Paperback)
The second book in the 'Shadow of the Apt' series by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

This novel continues where book one left off; we continue to follow several characters on a sequential basis as they try to stem the tide of conquest by the Wasp Empire. A faction that has continually displayed covert yet aggressive intentions towards the rest of the continent (The Lowlands).

This book is quite exceptional...let me explain. I've read many trilogies/series in which the second book has some minor improvements compared to the first; better because the author has had some time to more clearly defined his ideas for both his story and characters. And often the quality of writing and story telling have improve slightly as well.

However, what impressed me most about this second effort is the degree of improvement found in this book compared to the first; improvement mainly in the quality of the prose that is used. The writing is more concise and written in such a way as to add to the suspense and intrigue of the situations that the main characters find themselves in. The narrative in this work just flowed better; if the story telling in book one was good, then it could easily be described as great for this second effort.

Also, as I mentioned before, the tale is told on a sequential basis, following about a half dozen or so characters in turn. As I approached the end of this book, I began to realize another unusual quality of this book. That being, that none, not one, of these tales was dull, boring or just plain 'fill'; all were intense, exciting and riveting. Few novels I've read with this 'sequential' format have ever accomplished this feat so well, as most have one or two segments that drag or hold little interest. Not so with this book!

Of course the above effect was enhanced by the fact that every section seemed to end in a 'cliffhanger' of sorts. This made me sorry to leave this chapter and eager to return to this particular thread. Honestly, few books that I've read recently (with the exception maybe of Joe Abercrombie's first two books in 'The First Law' trilogy) have had me so eager to keep reading or trying to find time to get back to a book; the book was simply that good.

Even the concerns I had regarding the written description of some of the one on one fights scenes in book one (see my review of 'Empire in Black and Gold' Sept 19/09), were no longer an issue in this second book.

Other positive features were
1.) a very good map
2.) a brief list of names, places and organizations (with brief descriptions) at the beginning of the book, that really helps to identify the characters etc. within.

Conclusion:
An exceptionally second book in the series, that not only has it all the ingredients for high fantasy and adventure, but also was presented in such a way that will make you want to read on and on. And for any book, who could ask for more. Easily 5 Stars...more if I could.

Ray Nicholson
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just Like Tarzan, 7 Dec 2013
I cannot believe that I am reading an Epic Fantasy series again. At my age I prefer the short novel. However this series is just too well written and put together and I am hooked. I already have the next 2 books for whenever I can get round to them. Adrian's writing reminds me of Edgar Rice Burroughs who I last read a very long time ago. There are several groups of characters and a chapter will end leaving one group in peril, but you will have to read several chapters about what the other groups are doing before you get back to the first group. As another reviewer notes this keeps the book going at a rattling pace despite its length. It never flags despite 2 full city sieges, which Adrian somehow manages to make completely different.

I first heard Adrian talk about this Apt series at a World-building Workshop at which he said that he had deliberately constructed his world without any organised religion. I had thought that this meant that this world was one where there is only that form of technology - however fantastic - that is called Apt. However that is not the case and there is clearly superstition and magic and I am not sure that you could sustain a series of books of this length without "the old ways" making their presence felt.
See also Adrian's blog post: [...]

Even more clearly the box is the Ring. A rather trite observation that I'm sure someone else has made.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent continuation, 2 Jan 2011
By 
A. Whitehead "Werthead" (Colchester, Essex United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt) (Paperback)
War has come to the Lowlands. Three great cities - Tark, Collegium and Sarn - are in danger of assault from the Wasp Empire and their allies, with the Empire hoping to seize all of the Lowlands in a single, swift campaign. In Collegium, the spymaster Stenwold Maker finds himself pressed into leading the defence of the city of students and artificers against the disciplined Ant-soldiers of Vek. In Tark, Salma and Totho find themselves aiding the defence against the Wasp onslaught, whilst in Sarn Che and Achaeos are hoping to find new allies amongst the Ant-kinden and their Moth and Mantis neighbours.

But in Capitas, in the heart of the Empire, the young Emperor has found himself a new prisoner, one with access to dark and powerful sorcery which he has offered to put at the Emperor's disposal...

The second volume of The Shadows of the Apt series picks up where Empire in Black and Gold left off, with the Wasp-kinden and their allies launching their invasion of the divided Lowlands in force. Whilst Empire was a story of back-alley knife-fights, political intrigue and clandestine dealings, Dragonfly Falling is an outright war story. Great armies and naval fleets clash, walls are defended and all manner of heroic last-stands and unexpected reversals (for both sides) take place. The slightly over-familiar military activity (Tchaikovsky is good at this stuff, but nowhere near as good as say David Gemmell or Paul Kearney) is livened up by all manner of steampunk battiness: airships, gyrocopters and even primitive submarines join the battles, one engagement turns on the deployment of a primitive air-rifle, troops are rushed into the warzone by steam trains and so on. This gives the scenes of combat and battle some much-needed freshness, as do the different kinden using their racial abilities in a massed form on the battlefield.

All of this action comes at the expense of some of Empire's quieter moments of intrigue, scene-setting and characterisation. Tchaikovsky hasn't got the time, even in a book almost 700 pages in length, to dwell on some moments like he did in the first volume and some elements are under-developed as a result (and some, like the formation of the Ancient League and the growing concerns of the Spiderlands over the Empire's expansion, take place entirely off-page). That said, there are some very well-developed subplots. Totho, one of the less-visible characters in the first novel, gets his own story here which may be nothing new (the corruption of power and ambition) but is told extremely well and based on his character development through the first two novels. Salma, the foppish swordsman of the first book, finds himself reluctantly becoming a Robin Hood figure behind enemy lines, whilst Major Thalric of the Wasp intelligence service finds himself drawn into political infighting whilst being relentlessly hunted by a murderous old nemesis.

These storylines are handled well and come together satisfyingly at the end in a solid convergence. However, after several hundred pages the battles do start blurring into one another and the relentlessly fast pace with barely a room for breath is somewhat wearying at times. In addition, the sudden deployment of a magical deus-ex-machina talisman into this steampunk story feels a bit redundant, especially since it seems mainly to be scene-setting for the next book. Still, this is for the most part a page-turning, inventive read.

Dragonfly Falling (***) isn't quite as inventive as the first novel, but remains an enjoyable and different slice of epic fantasy. It is available now in the UK and USA.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The action just doesn't stop, 27 July 2009
This review is from: Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt) (Paperback)
After reading the first book I thought that it would be impossible to match it. Well I am glad to say that I was wrong. Dragonfly Falling is arguably even better! The action continues at a breakneck pace and there are more twists and turns than in a corkscrew factory.
I won't give too much away, as it would be a sin to spoil even the slightest part, but I can say that the Wasp army continues to march onwards in it's aim to conquer the Lowlands.
The story is best described as something akin to the Peloponnesian War with a Nazi type force on one side and a lose group of city states with a Churchill type as their figurehead on the other.
There is betrayal, love (but not enough to make it soppy), spies and lots and lots of battles.
My favourite character dies in one such battle whilst another becomes a traitor at the expense of many lives.
We are introduced to the Wasp Emporer, an evil man who has everything he desires but is bored woth it. All he now wants is immortality so he doesn't have to fear the assassins dagger.
Finally there is a blood fued that introduces us to a new deadly killer and a Wasp turncoat.
This book is a brilliant read and I would strongly recommend it to anyone that likes their books full of action and well rounded characters.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't fade as many middle books do, 1 April 2009
By 
griff1974 (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt) (Paperback)
Going into the second book of a trilogy is always approached with a touch of trepidation, particularly when the first is so good. This book succeeds and does so, like all the best trilogies, by changing the timbre of the story.

This one is much more about characterisation than world-view. It's about developing the human (or should that be kinden?) element and how each character reacts to the traumatic events that swirl around them uncontrolled. The shades-of-grey theme is emphasised with morality being tested throughout and the reader becoming truly engrossed in how the characters emerge on the other side: broken or stronger? Whether a bad action for a good reason can ever be justified is a core question asked.

However, like all good Bond films, fantasy needs a really sinister villain. Surprisingly here it's not the wasps but the shadow of ancient dark magic rising manifested in the form of the mosquito-kinden. Cleverly implied in the story is the feeling that the 'good' side of that same magic is going to be needed somewhere along the road, and that all the artifice in the world isn't going to help. Not a subtle metaphor for our own technology-heavy world, but it works nonetheless.

My only small criticism is that as you get to know the characters some of them emerge as shallower than hoped, and single-faceted. Sometimes the restrictions of the individual kinden prohibit the moral choices that would expose the frailties we want to see them overcome. But in the broad context of the story this isn't a big niggle.

My recommendation is that I couldn't put the book down. If you loved the first one then you'll love this too. There are quirks and additions that keep rejuvenating the interest. I can't wait to see how the author is going to build up to the expected crescendo in the final instalment.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It's not really that good!!!, 9 Sep 2010
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This review is from: Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt) (Paperback)
This is a book with an average of 4.5 stars and i think that that is very overrated.

I think the author creates an interesting story, but in many places throughout the first 3 books i found myself reading just to see what happens rather than enjoying the story. After the 3rd book i stopped because i had hoped that would be the end (the 4th wasn't out at the time) but it isn't and i can't be bothered to read any more.

When you compare these books to Brent Weeks and Robin Hobb (who also get 4.5 stars) they fall a long way short. Both of those authors are absolutely amazing and if you are expecting the same quality then you are going to be disappointed.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dragonfly Triumphant, 14 Mar 2009
By 
GM Jones (Reading, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt) (Paperback)
And so to volume 2 of Tchaikovsky's insect-flavoured Shadows of the Apt, a sequence which continues to offer fresh and original delights to those who love their epic fantasy.

Beginning with the introduction of a major character only alluded to in the previous novel - his Imperial Majesty Alvdan the Second, ruler of the belligerent Wasp empire - the novel then continues pretty much straight from where Empire In Black and Gold left off, with a host of well-realised characters scattered throughout the landscape of the book, in various kinds of strife.

War has broken out, in no uncertain terms, and it is from this development the novel gains much of its narrative urgency. Sometimes it is almost unbearably tense, particularly when the Beetle-kinden city of Collegium is under siege, with the inhabitants running around frantically trying to hold off what seems an inevitable defeat.

War is the theme, and the way Tchaikovsky weaves it in and out of the story is one of the true pleasures of the novel. He doesn't stint on the realities of war, either; the terror, the massed heaps of dead bodies, the sense of hopelessness, as well as the limitless ambition and feelings of triumph to be gained from a martial victory.

All the characters continue to undergo the story-arcs begun in the first novel; that war changes people is not, perhaps, the most original of insights, but it is used here to sometimes disturbing effect, with one character in particular undergoing a pressurised volte-face that is only understandable in terms of the journey he has made so far, and his angry feelings of abandonment.

The introduction in this volume of the creepy, vampiric Mosquito-Kinden Uctebri and his no-doubt nefarious plans for the mysterious Shadow Box bring a welcome dose of mysticism into the often all-too practical, four-square world of the Beetles and their ilk. This, and the good/evil(?) spirits of the cursed Darakyon forest, continue to be the most quietly spine-tingling elements of the story, and look certain to gain a major place in the finale.

We also meet several new types of Kinden, including roaches, fire-ants, and the huge and frankly weird Mole-Cricket kinden (I'd never even heard of mole-crickets until I looked them up - see, educational too!) and there are tantalising references to various others. The worldbuilding continues apace, with enough new invention to prevent the onset in the reader of "Middle-Trilogy-Fatigue". And at a hefty 673 pages, maintaining that interest is all-important.

If I have a criticism, it's one I felt about the previous novel too - there's so much action and romance and seeing and doing and treachery and daring escapes and hideous consequences that there is rarely time to step back and appreciate the sheer strangeness of the world the story is set in. This is a world that, while having certain similarities to our own, is in other ways completely different. The plants, the landscapes, the calendar, and certainly the animals are unique in genre fiction and could do with a little more description and explanation, but too many times the author whizzes us past them to get on to the next bit of story. This is a world in which rich people dress in Bee-fur and Spider-silk and carts are pulled by giant beetles, a world full of ordinary wonders, and while this would be normal to a character in the novel, it sure isn't normal to the reader, and perhaps it would have helped if occasionally the author had stepped back a little and allowed us to wallow in those wonders for a while.

Anyway, a minor criticism, if that. This is a magisterial novel, controlled with the skill of a master. It improves on its excellent predecessor by being even more exciting, breathless, inventive, tragic and moving. Apparently the finale of the trilogy is published in August, and I for one can't wait.

Bravo, Mr Tchaikovsky.
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4.0 out of 5 stars What can one say..., 20 Oct 2013
By 
M. Malthouse (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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About a continuing series at the second book?

Precious little without risking spoilers for the newcomers. I'm on book 4 now and it looks like I'll be continuing until the end.
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Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt)
Dragonfly Falling (Shadows of the Apt) by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Paperback - 6 Feb 2009)
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