2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 August 2008
`House of Reeds' is the second book of the `Sixth Sun', and stands as both a self-contained novel and a continuation from `Wasteland of Flint'. The first was set out on the periphery of the empire of the Imperial Méxica, and `House of Reeds' focuses on the planet Jagan where the military power and diplomatic and commercial influence of Tenochtitlán is being steadily asserted.
It begins with the receipt of a disturbing message for Chu-sa Hadeishi of the light cruiser IMN Cornuelle, and light years away an unexpected reassignment for the Swedish-Russian xenoarchaeologist Gretchen Anderssen. On Old Earth, Anáhuac, a minor Méxica prince, Tezozómoc is about to become the pawn of political machinations.
All will arrive on Jagan to be confronted by intrigue, mystery and danger.
Rumour of a First Sun artefact will send Gretchen and her little band of troublemakers into the hinterland where the native lords are chafing under the increasing Méxica dominance. Chu-sa Hadeishi and his crew will find themselves playing an unexpected and deadly role in Imperial policies. The wastrel Prince Tezozómoc will discover the true price of his royal birthright.
`House of Reeds' is a cinematic and fast-paced story with weaving plot threads amidst the dramatic background of the alternate future history of the Méxica and the alien planet Jagan. In `Wasteland of Flint' the hostile environment of Ephesus III provided an evocative backdrop; Jagan in contrast is an old, long-inhabited world, its sentient species weary and all too aware of their fall, living amidst the ruins and secrets of their ancient greatness. Whilst much of the action takes place in the Five Rivers region of Jagan or high above in orbit, Harlan effectively brings the world to life.
Throughout the 414 pages the weaving plot threads heighten the tension and danger. There is vivid characterisation, dialogue, combat, occasional humor and glimpses of the history of Anáhuac, and a shadowy threat to all humanity.
The characters of Chu-sa Hadeishi and Gretchen Anderssen are deftly developed, with more insight into the tension between the cultures of the Méxica, their Nisei and Scottish allies and the lesser peoples of Anáhuac. A cast of other characters ably support the main players: Magdalena, the competent Hesht comm-tech (the cover portrait does not really do her justice), Parker the English pilot and his quest for a smoke, the crew of the Cornuelle, and the agents of the Mirror -- the secret police of the Empire. The most compelling figure is Malakar, an elderly reptilian native of Jagan, a believable alien and a tragic figure, a counterpoint to the ambitious lords, for she remembers the lost heritage of her species.
Evoking vague memories of Jack Vance and Talbot Mundy, `House of Reeds' proves Harlan a master storyteller.
The third book in the series, 'Land of the Dead' is in progress (with the first few chapters available on the author's wiki: thronewiki) and should be published next year.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2012
Most that I have to say about this book I've already said before about its prequel, "Wasteland of Flint": it's entertaining, imaginative, well-written, slightly spoiled by silly mysticism and by utterly improbable sensitivity of some characters to the minutest details, rather like some of the more absurd superpowers that Frank Herbert's "Bene Gesserit" cult have in the "Dune" book. I don't think, however, that it could stand on its own, so I only recommend it for those of you who have already read the prequel.
on 20 August 2012
This novel is the second in a trilogy, although all 3 stories stand alone. The Japanese skipper of a small warship is ordered to a distant world with several competing different species and something strange out of the far past.
Turns out that the ship's orders are a cloak for some very dirty politics devised by the Aztec ruler and his secret advisers. How can the skipper save his ship, his crew and his career, not to mention a good few of the locals?
This trilogy is very clever and requires some concentration to keep ahead of who is doing what to whom.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 March 2006
It isn't necessary to read Wasteland of Flint first (the prequel to House of Reeds), as this book provides all the background you'll need. Once again the plot is excellent as is the writing. If, like me, you've grown tired of 'thick' books that are mostly padding then this is a too-rare treat. Every word moves the story forward in fine style. I'm eagerly awaiting the next book set in Mr Harlan's interesting universe!