on 22 February 2012
I read "Sun of Suns", also from Amazon, some time ago, and greatly enjoyed it. It was what I consider an entirely satisfying SF novel: a surprising and carefully worked-out setting, a gripping plot with plenty of interesting details, varied and vivid characters, and the odd surprise which never turns out to be a deux ex machina. There are several books in this series, though none appears to have been republished in Britain, and I put them all on my Wish List. This is the second. The spatial scale of the story is smaller this time: instead of travelling all over the vast hollow world of Virga, it is confined to one (albeit very large) settlement, and the action is ground-based instead of flying around on jet-propelled airships. This does not make it any less exciting or interesting, though. Without a fleet of airships at her command, Venera Fanning finds the strange societies of Spyre just as dangerous as an encounter with the sky pirates or enemy dreadnoughts of the first book--and with no companions, is dependent on her own wits to escape from various nasty situations and find her way home. That Karl Schroeder manages to help her do this without ever seeming to cheat shows how good he is at managing plot. Even the "secret weapon" Venera brings out at the end turns out to be something we were quite openly shown earlier...except that, at that time, we had no reason to think it had a military use. See if you can spot it in advance. This book falls short of greatness, and I would dock it half a star for a couple of short but unnecessarily explicit sex scenes, but nonetheless I strongly recommend it and look forward to buying the remaining books in the series when I have the money!
on 29 October 2009
I am not normally enticed by books which are part of a series. Authors that can keep interest and invention alive within the confines set by a series are rare. Buying into a series might mean missing much better stand alone novels from other authors. And this is 'book 2' of the Virga series, which I thought was a trilogy but now discover is longer. But I am happy to be following this series. Why? It effortlessly melds space opera and steam punk with some other other fiction genres, like the adventure novel. Virga is a enormous balloon in space containing air and a declined human civilisation living on spinning structures and dependent on small artificial suns to grow food. Outside Virga is a shadowy machine civilisation, whose agent was killed in the previous book, Sun of Suns, by the heroine of this book, Venera Fanning. Heroine is perhaps not quite the right term as Venera is a vicious Machiavellian whose bad temperament stems from a stray bullet that broke her jaw when she was young. Venera has a device which controls Candesce, the sun which serves Spyre, a cylinder world Venera lands on at the start of this book. The device is taken from her and this book is about how she tries to recover it from the bizarre clans (some squeezed into single buildings) that run Spyre. By the end of the book Venera is a changed woman, not least because she discovers the source of the bullet that has blighted her life.
on 14 June 2010
I'm enjoying this series so far. It's not the most mature read out there but the characters are interesting and mostly plausible. But the real appeal to these books is the imagination that Schroeder has put into them; I'm having a lot of fun flying around in the world that the's created.
This book changes gears a little from Sun of Suns; it's a little more epic and it gives us a lot more insight into the world itself and even a little bit of information on the world beyond.
Sun of Suns had a storyline of it's own but in retrospect, it appears to be more of an introduction to the setting with our main character as a guide. Pirate Sun also has it's own storyline but it is more of an introduction to what I suspect is going to be the true story arc of this series.
In fact, I'd now class Sun of Suns as the series prequel and this one as the first book of the series. And it leaves me wanting to read more.