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on 15 September 2017
Good Book
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on 25 July 2017
Really enjoying the books like the rest it sucks you in
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on 4 April 2010
Enjoyed the book, at times found it a little slow, but enjoyed the plot and it kept my nose in there til the end and wanting more. very good.
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on 16 March 2010
Wow. What can I say. It's really something to follow a series and see an author grow - and Shadows of the Apt does not disappoint. Ok - the third book, Blood of the Mantis, was a bit of a stumble (the pacing felt a bit off when compared with the epic scale and non-stop action of Dragon Fly Falling) but this book picks up the pace and does not let up.

What I found startling is just how much I love these characters. Tisamon, Stenwold, Thalric, Tynisa, Che... we have lived with these characters over the course of three novels - and with Salute the Dark, we really see them tested to the limit and... well, broken. This book feels very much like the Empire Strikes Back of the series; the heroes face their own personal demons, their weaknesses are exposed and - yes - there are casualties and life-changing sacrifices.

What this all adds up to is a breathless, non-stop read. I couldn't put this down - and at times I was just gaping open-jawed at some of the scenes, thinking 'Ok, surely not... no... you aren't. Ok you ARE....'

Seriously, this is an author who is now completely at home with his narrative and can weave action and characterization effortlessly. It takes some skill to keep our attention when we have multiple narratives; characters off on different and divergent journeys, and yet like any good film, the tension and pace is perfect.

This book took me back to my childhood when I was addicted to the first dragonlance trilogy by Weiss and Hickman. I will always remember the death of a major character (well, two actually) in those novels... and how I came away just feeling such a sense of loss, of emptiness. I've not really felt that way since with a book - until I read Salute the Dark. I won't give away any spoilers - but I did really think 'wow... you did that...'. It was refreshing. It was good. I like an author who isn't afraid to make you wince - to push his characters to the absolute limit and beyond.

This is a superb book, beautifully written. I cannot wait for the next in this series. What I love most is that I cannot even begin to predict what will happen next - and that is refreshing.

Yep. I salute the dark. More please.....
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on 19 February 2010
I don't know what appeals to me so much about this series but I can't get enough. Once I started reading this I couldn't stop. Found myself on the edge of my seat really worried for the characters - probably making a fool of myself on the bus but who cares. Anyway I would recommend this series to any fantasy reader. The innovative concept of the insect kinden may be what intrigued me in the first place but the pace, scale and intricacy are what kept me reading
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on 21 March 2010
It's very hard to review this, the fourth Shows of the apt, without spoilage, but I shall at least try and keep it to minor spoilage.

I have thoroughly enjoyed this series, especially the brilliant 'Dragonfly falling' which is a modern fantasy classic. There was also still a lot to enjoy here too

HOWEVER (you knew that was coming right?) The sheer scale of world events portrayed here rather sweep away all the personalities, sub plots and relationships which were all part of the series early charms. In order to have a presence in all the battle arena's all our hero's are sent their seperate ways and sometimes for rather contrived reasons. Also having gradually built the pace and story depth, all the plot elements converge and conclude a bit too quickly, without time to dwell on the passing of heroes and enjoy the comeuppances of villians.

I also cannot quite believe who the author has chosen to kill off! certainly my favourite characters which is ok, this is a war after all, but there is still another book to come and a major draw for me has now gone.

I am not sure where the story will now go, there is a conclusion of sorts here along with the promise of further action, but my fear is now that any further stories will be a bit of an anti climax and I would rather another story on the same world or one set a 100 years on. However my enjoyment of this series has been so much and that I will buy 'Scarab Path' when it comes out but my expectations are now significantly reduced.

A brilliant author but I can't help feel he struggled to keep sheer scale of the world he created under control.
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on 30 April 2010
If Shadows of the Apt were a TV show, then Salute The Dark would be the epic two-part season climax, where all the season's plot threads and character arcs come together, and there's a great big fight and a general clearing of the decks for season 2.

So what do we have with this, the fourth novel in the Shadows sequence? We see Tchaikovsky's opus reaching a crescendo, is what, and it's a bloody fun ride. Emphasis on the bloody.

There's a lot of death in the novel, some of it shocking and unexpected, as much-liked characters present from the start of the series are scythed down. Some of these demises are genuinely upsetting. This winnowing of characters is important, though, because it gives us the feeling that this really is it, this is the big one, and none of our heroes might survive the day. You really don't know who's going to survive - or if anyone is.

As such, it gives the novel a sense of mythic scale and sense of urgency the previous books only hinted at. I read this book in three days flat, and begrudged any time when I was dragged away from it for such boring duties as eating, sleeping and going to work.

The story? Well, you must know the story by now, because if you haven't read the first three books you've no business reading this one - you'll be utterly lost, for starters. So suffice it to say that the multiplicity of plots that have budded and bloomed in previous books continue to expand into full flower... Che is brave and loveable and Stenwold is doughty and anxious, and Tynisa is a fearless warrior-tart, we learn about the culture of the Commonweal in depth for the first time, there are great battles and clever tricks and sudden reversals and a pint-and-a-half of derring-do in every chapter. And Tisamon, as ever, is a giant prat. Though I wouldn't say it to his face.

One thing I particularly admire in Tchaikovsky's writing is his depiction of extended battle scenes. Too often in novels of this kind people start fighting and I zone out, uninterested in Whatsisname's sword-thrust and So-and-so's parry and feint. Tchaikovsky holds the interest by bringing a rare eloquence and narrative brio to his battle scenes, and a sense of authenticity doubtless garnered from his side-interest in live-action roleplaying (Read his website!). This brings a welcome sense of value for money, as I'm actually reading all of it...

Downsides are few - I've pointed out before that there's little descriptive colour to these novels, and that's a problem which remains - if you even consider that a problem. Also, with so many plots and dozens of viewpoint characters, it's inevitable that some of them get comparatively short shrift - in particular Taki, the chirpy fly-kinden aeronaut, my favourite new character from Dragonfly Falling, who for most of the novel is consigned to a bit of a narrative cul-de-sac (Although that could just be my own prejudice, because I fancy her).

I'd also like to learn more about the mythological areas of the story, about the Moth-kinden and their magic and the dreaded Days of Lore. But all that? That's not much. That barely dents the carapace, because this book is magnificent.
Although it marks a climax to what we've been reading so far, there are plenty of seeds laid in the plot of Salute that will grow in later volumes - And I for one can't wait. Stay tuned for Shadows of the Apt, season 2!

Volume 5, The Wind in the Wing-Casings*, is out in August, I believe. (Is it just me or does he seem to be writing these at a rate of three a year?)

*I jest, of course. Its called The Scarab Path.
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Spring has come, and the war for the Lowlands has resumed. A freshly-reinforced Wasp army is marching on Sarn, whilst a newly-assembled force is preparing to assault the Mantis-held woodland of Felyal and clear the coast route to Collegium. With the chances of victory hanging in the balance, Stenwold Maker embarks on a daring diplomatic mission to the Dragonfly Commonweal, hoping to convince them to attack the Wasp Empire whilst their attention is elsewhere. Meanwhile, Nero and Taki are returning to the Exalsee to try and arrange the liberation of Solarno.

Elsewhere, other events are coming to a head. Tisamon's path leads him to Capitas for an attempt on the Wasp Emperor's life. Uctebri, now master of the Shadow Box, is preparing for the culmination of his own plans. And Cheerwell sees an opportunity to tear apart the Empire from within, but finds that old allies now see her as a deadly enemy and traitor...

Salute the Dark is the fourth book in the Shadows of the Apt series and whilst it isn't the conclusion of the whole series (which will run for ten books), it is the culmination of the first major story arc. Enough closure is given here so that the reader can pause before reading the next book in the series (Books 5-7 form a trilogy of their own within the larger series). Events that Tchaikovsky has been laying the ground for since the first book finally take place and some questionable earlier storytelling decisions are here explained fully. Whilst there's a large amount of military activity going on in the fourth volume, it isn't as overwhelmed by it as the second book was, and there is a good mix between the war scenes, character-building and political intrigue. Thalric's return to the centre of attention is well-handled, and characters like Cheerwell, Tisamon and Salma are all developed impressively.

The main startling thing about Salute the Dark is the death toll. Perhaps aware that the number of characters was getting extremely large, Tchaikovsky takes a scythe to the cast with enthusiasm, killing off major and minor characters in a bloodbath that even George R.R. Martin might find a tad excessive. This gives rise to a genuine feeling of unpredictability and tension as you don't know who's going to be offed next. Some of the deaths fall a little flat, as they're minor characters who haven't had much screen-time, but there's enough major ones to be surprising.

The book's conclusion is well-handled, giving a good explanation for the pause in hostilities whilst laying just enough groundwork for future stories to make you want to pick up the next book without being left on a tedious cliffhanger.

Salute the Dark (****) is the best book in the series to date, featuring impressive developments in the story, the worldbuilding and characters. It is available now in the UK and USA.
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on 5 August 2010
This book marks the end of a significant chapter of the larger story, tying off a number of threads in a satisfying manner. There are still many to explore, and the cast of characters continues to grow as we continue to range further afield in the world with each new book.

In many ways this is a tragic book as a number of characters reach critical moments in their lives and, without giving away any spoilers, some characters rise to the challenge and others do not with varying consequences. In that regard the book is very realistic, as all of the characters are flawed and ultimately human. For example, for every act of bravery committed by a coward, the mask of heroism can only last for so long and eventually the truth will come out. So it is with the characters in this book as events have been put into motion and no amount of bravery or sacrifice can change them. In the hands of another author, a situation where a hero is faced a hundred enemies would be handled very differently, with a hero cutting a swathe and emerging without a scratch. Tchaikovsky is not as lenient with his characters and for all of the fantastical elements of the story, there is an underlying level of realism. When there are acts of bravery and heroism, they stand out and are feats to be remembered. There is a particular scene in the latter part of the book that I will remember for a long time, because it was a tipping point in the story, but more so because it was very poignant moment for two of the main characters.

Throughout the series there isn't a single character who is impossibly virtuous and without flaws. All of them have moments of weakness and temptation, and it makes it easier to relate to them, even those I would loosely term villains, who are often more complex in their motivations than the main protagonists. Characterisation is a big thing for me, and to really enjoy a book I need a fair balance between characters, plot and world building, which Tchaikovsky has achieved in this book as he has throughout the series.

Certain events come to a head in Salute the Dark with a lot of unexpected consequences. There was never a moment when reading this book that I could predict how certain scenes were going to play out because any character could die at any moment. The Shadowbox is finally in the hands of Uctebri the Sarcad, the mysterious and very deadly magician who seeks to change not only the course of the Wasp Empire, but also the fate of his people. Meanwhile the Wasps are mustering for war on several fronts and we see how all of these battles play out, sometimes with horrifying results. Tisamon, Archaos, Salma and Totho have all reached crossroads in their lives and in Salute the Dark they all have large parts to play, shaping the course of the future for themselves and many others. As some characters prepare for war others seek to reclaim what was taken from them. Taki works hard to build a new alliance to take back her homeland while Stenwold embarks on an important journey to bring old friends into the conflict.

There are quite a few story threads but at no time did I feel the need to refer back to previous books to work out who the characters were or what was going on. They are all distinct enough that I could easily recall them, even if they did not appear in the previous book.

As mentioned this book ends one major chapter in the series, and in some ways it comes full circle. We revisit old friends and old places and by the end I thought Stenwold looked very old. Only a few years have passed since the Wasp Empire first struck the Lowlands and the rest of the Kinden finally woke up to the real danger, but Stenwold has been talking about this for a long time. Now he is a middle aged chubby man who has very few friends left alive that were there with him at the beginning. In that regard I felt as if Salute the Dark was the ending of an era, and that the fate of the Lowlands would rest more heavily on the shoulders of some of the younger characters. I am sure he will still be a major part of the story and a key player, but the landscape has changed. It's no longer about warning people about the Wasp Empire and trying to build alliances to repel them. That was always Stenwold's primary goal and he has achieved it more or less. By the end of the book the status quo has completely changed again, so I wonder if he can rise up to meet the new challenge and cope with a different set of demands that are placed on him. I see a lot of similarities between Stenwold and Winston Churchill, and I wonder if the parallels will continue in this series after Salute the Dark. Churchill was very popular during WWII as he was the right man to lead the country, but afterwards it did not go as well for him. Stenwold was given the title of War Master, but who will he become when the conflict ends and will the people still need him? And if not, can he find a new role for himself and continue to serve his people. Perhaps I am looking too deeply into the similarities, but these are just some of the questions I have about his fate and that of the other characters.

Adrian Tchaikovsky is not afraid to take risks and he makes some bold choices in this book. With spoiling it this book marks the end of some characters and while I don't disagree with any of his decisions, I suspect there will be some who will lament the passing of favourites. However, in each case the death was important, significant, necessary or poignant because it changed nothing in some cases. Keeping a character alive because you like them or because they are popular with readers is a sin I have seen other authors commit in novels, and in particular on television. There is none of that here so prepare yourself for a few shocks.

Overall I found this a thoroughly enjoyable and gripping read where all of the different plot threads held my interest equally. Sometimes when an author is juggling a number of story threads you can develop favourites, but I didn't have one this time. All of them are critical on the local and global scale and although the next book marks a new chapter and a new direction in the story, I am very curious to see some of the fallout from events in Salute the Dark.
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on 24 June 2014
...but of course it never is. I really do not understand the appeal of Game of Thrones - of course like most people I've only watched it on TV. It can't just be the sex and violence, I hope not, but what else is there? Folks are saying will George ever finish the series? What a stupid question! The point about the Game of Thrones is that the Game never ends, the Game is the point. Who cares which group wins? You may care for individuals, but that's about it. The Game will go on regardless.
I prefer this world of the Apt. The Empire is bad. The Empire must be stopped. The Wasps go to war because if they did not they would fight amongst themselves to destruction. The Wasps are the Nazis. The Wasps must be stopped. Yes, yes, there are ambiguous characters on both sides but you know who to root for.
In this book as before there are clear debates about the ethics of war, the arms race and particularly here, weapons of mass destruction. In Thrones there doesn't seem to be any sense of restraint. Power is everything, any sense of morality is for losers.
As I say elsewhere I think this is where Martin has ended up.
Although Adrian can be just as ruthless with his characters as Martin, there is still a sense here that sacrifices have been worth it. No one is terribly cheerful at the end, but the end of this first arc is still uplifting. The only satisfaction Thrones offers is the kind you get at the end of horror movies when the monster is destroyed.
If you are going to invest the kind of time you have to in a fantasy world of this complexity then the world of the Apt is the one to go to. It will probably never get made into a movie, but it would make excellent Anime.
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