Hello! Welcome to another review here on the Swordsmith blog. Westu hal to you, I do hope that you are reading something awesome and staying safe.
I have seriously enjoyed something I have called my Sci-Fi renaissance recently with a real return to this incredible genre! The book I am reviewing today is an epic example of space opera, a book that pulled me in and took me on an epic adventure across the universe. Welcome to my review of Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky!
I would like to give a big shout out to Dave and Ellie at The Write Reads for making this amazing tour happen, to Jamie Lee Nardone for the physical review copy and to all the other blogger taking part in this ultimate tour!
This high-stakes space-based adventure will be perfect for those who loved Children of Time, also by Adrian Tchaikovsky.
The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . .
Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade his mind in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.
Eighty years ago, Earth was destroyed by an alien enemy. Many escaped, but millions more died. So mankind created enhanced humans such as Idris – who could communicate mind-to-mind with our aggressors. Then these ‘Architects’ simply disappeared and Idris and his kind became obsolete.
Now, Idris and his crew have something strange, abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects – but are they really returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy as they search for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, and many would kill to obtain it
The books begins with easily one of the most cinematic and brilliantly done prologues of all time! It sets the book up brilliantly, teasing the reader about the universe, the architects, the Parthenon and Idris, a Navigator. This is something I have always noticed about Adrian’s writing, he pulls you in with subtle hints and trinkets and then opens up to the wider story and world.
Putting it simply this is character driven Sci-Fi at it’s finest, the characters pull this story along – Adrian also employs a well done POV for several points of view but the major ones are Solace, Idris, Kris and Hauver. I also likes how there was some real time dilation between the POV’s, it made the story feel almost episodic, and this book is fairly big at 533 pages so that was useful for pacing at least for me. Going back to my point about the characters, the characters really do drive this story along, right from Solace’s auspicious meeting that drives her to find someone and in many ways sets of the chain of events that occur. I am not always the biggest fan of this technique, but it becomes clear why and let me assure this an amazing story.
Something I have sometimes struggled, and this is personal problem, with sci-fi literature is info dump. There are some horrible moments in some books when info about the universe, the world or how this works are really thrown at you and it becomes very confusing. Shards of Earth is the polar opposite, the universe is slowly revealed to the reader throughout the book so I never felt like I was getting too much information but slowly gained my appreciation of the Universe (and I stress Universe) that Adrian has created. The book is full of some wonderful ideas but I love the treatment of Faster Than Light travel (FTL) where Adrian uses the concept of un-space, it’s this kind of detail and awesomeness I live for in books like this.
My last few points I would like to make in this review starts with how wonderful Adrian’s writing is, it is a wonderfully accessible writing style which is perfect for a sci-fi book and one that is as complex as this. I can’t really show this as I am not allowed to quote from the book, but if you have read anything by Adrian then you will know what I mean. The themes the book deals with are plenty but they are centred around loss, survival, the way humanity might develop, and perhaps most mysteriously of all of what came before humanity in a universe. Perhaps the most profound theme of all is that of a threat against humanity, there are so many discussions about the Architects, what they are and more importantly what they want. It led me to some profound thoughts about many things, and whenever I read about the possible future it always leads my mind to some wonderful thoughts and dreams. Briefly, my favourite character was Solace. Solace is a member of the Parthenon, a female led and populated organisation/state which grows its members in Vats and is an important military force. Solace was an interesting character due to her transition from being a member of Parthenon to joining Idris’s crew, her arc in this book was brilliant to follow, very well written character and as an added bonus she could kick ass when needed.
This is a fantastic book, one of the best that I have read this year a solid beginning to a new series The Final Architecture. I admired the way Adrian has really created a new universe and the reader is gently pulled in to it, but then you are in for something special. There are so many amazing things happening in this book, the concepts of FTL travel were mind boggling but then when experienced though the characters became awesome! Adrian really is an author to bring about new ideas and driections from Sci-Fi as genre and Shards of Earth is an essential reason why. This is easily going in to my recommended and essential reading pile and to anyone looking for the beginning of what could be an amazing Sci-Fi trilogy, you are in for something here.
That’s all from me, I really hope that you are staying safe, reading something awesome and westu hal.
Book Information and Links
Length: 592 Pages
Publishing: 27th May 2021
Adrian Tchaikovsky is the author of the acclaimed Shadows of the Apt fantasy series, from the first volume, Empire In Black and Gold in 2008 to the final book, Seal of the Worm, in 2014, with a new series and a standalone science fiction novel scheduled for 2015. He has been nominated for the David Gemmell Legend Award and a British Fantasy Society Award. In civilian life he is a lawyer, gamer and amateur entomologist.