Before I get into the review proper, I have a pet peeve I need to vent. I'm really not a fan of made up phrases to set a scene, and the technique is used a lot in this book. Now it's generally a style choice, but in my opinion it adds a barrier when reading a sentence. For flora and fauna, or anything else local it's not too much of a problem, however when it's used for familiar concepts then it breaks the flow of reading.
With this book the big issue for me was the labels for time. Now there is a very good reason the author chose this option (in fact, it's described in detail at the end), but for me it disrupted my pacing as I read the story.
And don't even get me started on made up swear words...
As I say, it's a pet peeve of mine, and is the only major issue I had with the book. The world building is well constructed, with some detailed research evident. The basic premise might be a familiar one, namely that of a civilisation long after a cataclysm, but the setting brings something different to the tale.
For the most part it reads like a fantasy novel, but there's some deep sci-fi in here as well - this is most evident at the beginning and at the end. It follows three main threads, two sisters who are long separated, and unaware of each other's situation. Their lives follow very different paths, and there was a point about halfway through the book where it clicked as to how their threads interconnected. I think I might have been a little slow realising that point, but when I did it added another level to the story.
I've already mentioned that I appreciated the world building, and part of that is the history of the world. There's a lot of mystery here, and pieces are unravelled as the three threads progress. My favourite thread was that of a boy rescued at sea. It's with this thread that we start learning more about the ancient history of the world, as well as rediscovering some of what came before.
Despite my pet peeve, there's a real craft to the writing, and it describes an excellent story with some depth and enough mystery to keep me interested. Definitely worth a read.
I read Elite: Reclamation recently by Drew Wagar. After reading that, I thought I would try another of his books. The one I picked up was the first in a trilogy, all with the prefix Shadeward. When I read the title, I read it was as ShadeWARD - as in the ward of a hospital. Reading it though, it is more of a directional word as in Eastward.
The book is set on a planet of endless day that is devoid of technology, and history is rumours. Calling creatures by other names, and just giving slight information on them so they are accepted as the norm and not out of place. With just a sentence or two, you can see what a flit is, you understand the carn and the herg. You can understand the time and measurement systems from the outset, and how they are implemented.
The book is set around three main characters, two females and a male. Kiri is an "only", an orphan on the streets who has to fend for herself and looks after her friend Tia. They are treated like dirt by the nobility. Her life changes after an encounter with priestesses, and she realises there is something about her that makes her different. We watch as she grows from urchin into something more.
Meru is an apprentice timekeeper assigned to a fisher boat, but when a freak storm hits, he is the only survivor and is rescued by the crew of the Mobillis. A ship the likes of which he has never seen, with a crew on a journey of discovery. What he does discover, rocks his world to its foundations and everything he knows and accepts is no longer what he accepted or knew. I see some chemistry between him and another member of the crew.
Zoella is the youngest of the three protagonists and lives in a home where her "guardian" sent her to stay. She is mistreated by the other children and the overseer of the home. Like the other two, hr life is changed and she has to use everything she has learned to survive where it seems so many others want her dead for reasons she can't comprehend.
The book slowly builds pace, with twists and turns that leave you breathless at times, and action scenes are well described. You can almost smell and see the backgrounds as they are explained, and all characters are believable, including the fleeting ones. Each of the main characters hold a secret, with a line here or there hinting at what it might be.
The book ends in a way to leave you wanting more, and I am so glad I have already brought the follow-up as it means I don't have to wait long to carry on the story. If you have never read any of the books by Drew Wagar, this is as good a place as any to start. At times I am reminded of the Malazan books by Steven Erikson,
Meet Zoella, Kiri and Meru. Find out their secrets and read as they find things so unbelievable to them, that they question what they see at times.
Brilliant novel, set on another planet, Esurio, in the Lacaille system, but involving humans. The story trails the lives of several characters in parallel. The thing that made me hesitate when first looking at it, was what kind of era is it based in? The cover does not give a clue, well, it is both futuristic and medieval but with a good reasons as to why. I do not want to go into detail about the setting and spoil the story but just to say that I think Science Fiction readers (and Elite Dangerous players) will quickly be entranced by it. Early on Drew sets a background to the characters and the world, this takes a small amount of time but is necessary for the story to evolve. After that it is gripping stuff all the way through.
Someone else complained about the terminology for the different time periods, this is another planet, of course people there will have different words for their concepts of time periods. The world has a different orbit period around its star, it does not rotate, one part is always dark, one part is always lit so the concept of night and day is completely different. This is not fictional hogwash, many planets are actually like this. A brief synopsis of these time periods at the beginning of the book would have been good, so that you can quickly relate to them. Also I am never a fan of trying to draw maps in your head from written parts of a novel, a rough layout of the world would have helped me get my bearings much easier. However, none of this detracts from a story that is thoroughly gripping. If you are an Elite Dangerous player, I believe you will like it as well, the system of Lacaille is present in Elite Dangerous game although it does have a different layout but I could imagine that this world and story could perfectly fit inside the Elite Dangerous Universe.
Drew has created his usual blend of intricate and detailed setting plus fully rounded characters who leap off the page at you. It's always a risk creating a world where the common references we take for granted aren't used and where the language has diverged, but Drew strikes a good balance of usage that doesn't jar the reader. Including a glossary was a great idea but I think it would have been better to include it at the front - especially for those of us reading this as an ebook!
That's my only complaint though. The story is an engaging and thrilling ride with Drew's ability to move the plot along at a good pace again being evident. Never rushed but never plodding, the story develops well and starts to draw in the sci-fi elements gradually rather than all at once.
I'm writing this as the next volume downloads. Oh wait, it's finished. Bye...
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, remained engaged through to the final pages and the moment I finished it downloaded and started the next in the series. This book reads a bit like a fantasy novel in a science fiction wrapper but successfully avoids tropes from either genre. It’s easily as original as anything by Cixin Liu or Kim Stanley Robinson and has a consistency, authenticity and plausibility which betray a thoughtfulness and intelligence to the writing, for example how to deal with the passing of time in a world of perpetual daylight. I very much liked the way that there was very little exposition and the reader is left to infer much and come to their own conclusions drawn from the actions and dialogue of the characters. I should also mention I’ve already ordered some extra copies as Christmas presents.
A story must be very finely balanced between boring and overwhelming. I think that in this book Drew found just the right mix of strangeness and familiarity; the amount of parallel storylines that the reader can comfortably handle, but which also provide a great overview of this strange medieval sci-fi world. This is certainly one of the best written books I've read this year, and happy to recommend it to everyone.
I'm not generally a fan of Scfi books but Drew's book had me gripped with the unfolding stories within it. His use of language is fantastic as it gives you a real picture of the places no people he is writing about. The only thing is, as a new reader to the genre, it's many years since I read A C Clarke etc, it took me a while to get into the changing datelines. But, once taken onboard its easier to follow the twists and turns in the character's lives. Looking forward to the rest of the saga.
An excellent novel that delivers on narrative, story line and characterisation set in a distant world colonised by humans many centuries ago. You can always tell if its a good book in my opinion if you read it quick and enjoy a sense of anticipation as to what is going to happen next. Really looking forward to the rest of the series and congratulations to Mr Wagar on delivering a worthy addition to the genre.