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Customer Review

on 25 October 2011
The latest in the Shadows of the Apt series continues to deliver as the reader is taken on a journey to the Commonweal. Fans of previous books in the series will be pleased that Che and Tynisa are at the heart of this novel, and the scale of the story's ambition is apparent in the growth of both of these characters, whilst exploring another of Tchaikovsky's created kingdoms. The pace of this adventure varies dramatically in the novel, with a slow, languid tempo at the outset raising dramatically in the central section. The Commonweal is thoroughly explored, with a wide cast of characters in the story that help to bring to life the struggle that the princedoms had in the Twelve Year War with the wasps. At first the sheer number of new introductions is a bit intimidating, and at times it can feel that the movement in the main characters arc, combined with the scale of ambition, gives a feeling that the book was in need of tighter editing to draw some of the strands closer together. However, this is a minor quibble to level at the novel, when it delivers enticing storylines and character developments in the way that Heirs of the Blade does. Similar to the previous novel, this is set outside of the wasp - rest of kinden conflict, and the absence of battles as set pieces allow strong character development in their place. There's real payoff for some of the major storylines in this instalment, and Tchaikovsky continues to delight in the vivid sketching of his players - no mean feat when placed against the exploration of a whole culture, as presented here. Subtle treatment of some larger topics are presented here too, such as the relationships between parent and child, the legacy of conflict, and how ambition and technology combine to have far reaching effects on the world.
Overall, a real gem of a read. With the large cast, and ambition of the novel, it is a more demanding read than some of the earlier stories, but whether you're an avid fan or relatively new to the series, this book offers escapism and adventure aplenty.
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