Fascinating and satisfyingly complex,
This review is from: Unwrapped Sky (Hardcover)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Based on a remnant low-tech culture on a world which may or may not be earth, the book is slow to develop it’s multifarious themes. This is a dystopian society, comprising several forms of modified humanity, having a social structure more or less based on a kind of caste system, with several Houses, whose elite exercise control from the apex of the social pyramid. In addition to this, each House is antagonistic towards the others and employs weapons based on combinations of physics, magic and psychology, based on surviving, yet poorly understood technologies of an earlier, more advanced civilization, and wielded by a caste of thaumaturgists, on behalf of the Houses, to control the population. The city of Caeli-Amur is one of several city-states and it is here that most of the action takes place.
The prevailing arrangements give rise to social tensions and industrial strife, which are exploited by shadowy groups of seditionists, each having slightly different agenda’s and objectives, but who all hope to change the existing order for something more humane, more democratic. Even among the seditionists there are factions who incline to this or that mode of resisting those in power and the power play within the main group forms a sub-theme throughout the book.
Several characters emerge early on and play key roles in the developing saga: Kata, a philosopher-assassin and former street urchin becomes a spy for House Technis. Boris a former factory worker becomes her contact or control, being an official of House Technis who has risen through the ranks, a rise which continues as the story evolves. Maximilian, dreamer and revolutionary, and opponent of Ejan, a co-conspirator with very different ideas as to how the insurgency should be managed.
All groups look back to an earlier time, an archetypal golden age, and the sunken city of Caeli-Enas in the bay bordering Caeli-Amur provides a source of constant speculation concerning the possibility that the key to mastering the technologies of the ancients lies within the Great Library of Caeli-Enas. Conspiracies and plots, sub-plots and subversions unfold as the principal contenders move towards a climax, which it is hoped, will overthrow the Houses and bring about welcome change. About the midpoint of the text, the pace of events starts to speed up, the first part being devoted to the introducing various characters and the subsequent development of themes. This is a fascinating and in some ways quite a complex book, with a slightly unsettling ending, in that at the end, there remains unfinished business, so that a sequel can be expected.