Books : reviews

Adrian Tchaikovsky.
Tor. 2013

The church of Armes of the Light has battled the forces of Darkness for as long as anyone can remember. The great prophecy has foretold that a band of misfits led by a high priestess will defeat the Dark Lord Darvezian, armed with their wits, the blessing of the Light, and an artifact stolen from the merciless Spider Queen.

Their journey will be long, hard, and fraught with danger. Allies will become enemies; enemies will become allies. And the Dark Lord will be waiting, always waiting…

Adrian Tchaikovsky.
Dogs of War.
Head of Zeus. 2017

My name is Rex. I am a good dog.

Rex is also seven foot tall at the shoulder, bulletproof, bristling with heavy calibre weaponry and his voice resonates with subsonics especially designed to instil fear. With Dragon, Honey and Bees, he’s part of a Multiform Assault Pack operating in the lawless anarchy of Campeche, Mexico. As a genetically engineered Bioform, Rex is a deadly weapon in a dirty war. But all he wants to be is a Good Dog. And to do that he must do exactly what Master says and kill a lot of enemies.

But who, exactly, are the enemies? What happens when Master is tried as a war criminal? What rights does the Geneva Convention grant weapons? Do Rex and his fellow Bioforms even have a right to exist? And what happens when Rex slips his leash?

Adrian Tchaikovsky.
Redemption's Blade.
Solaris. 2018

Ten years ago, the Kinslayer returned from the darkness. His brutal Yorughan armies issued from the pits of the earth, crushing all resistance, leaving burnt earth and corruption behind. Thrones toppled and cities fell.

And then he died.

Celestaine—one of the heroes that destroyed him—has tasked herself with correcting the worst excesses of the Kinslayer’s brief reign, bringing light back to a broken world. With two Yorughan companions, she faces fanatics, war criminals and the Kinslayer’s former minions, as the fragile alliances of the War break down into feuding and greed.

The Kinslayer may be gone, but he cast a long shadow: one from which she may never truly escape.

Adrian Tchaikovsky.
Children of Time.
Pan. 2015

rating : 2 : great stuff
review : 9 September 2019

Who will inherit this new earth?

The last remnants of the human race left a dying Earth, desperate to find new home. Following their ancestors’ star maps, they discovered the greatest treasure of a past age – a world terraformed and prepared for human life.

But all is not right in this new Eden. The planet is not waiting for them, pristine and unoccupied. New masters have turned it from a refuge into mankind’s worst nightmare. Now two civilizations are on a collision course and must fight to survive. As the fate of humanity hangs in the balance, who are the true heirs of this new Earth?

A mad scientist in orbit around a newly terraformed planet fails to realise she has accidentally uplifted a spider civilisation. And when the descendants of the last flight from a dying Earth arrive to colonise, they find themselves embroiled in a potentially tragic game of Prisoners Dilemma.

This is simply marvellous. (I’ll grant the uplift virus as the one piece of magic tech allowed.) The millennia-long timespan of the spiders and humans is handled in two very different, but effective ways. The uplifted spiders are some of the best “aliens” I’ve ever come across: their bio-technology, their social structures, their language and communications, their ways of scanning a computer screen, are all so different, yet so plausible. And the ending, although somewhat rushed, works nicely to subvert the humans’ assumptions.

Really looking forward to the sequel.

Adrian Tchaikovsky.
Children of Ruin.
Pan. 2019

It has waited through the Ages. Now it’s time.

Thousands of years ago, Earth’s terraforming program took to the stars. On the world they called Nod, scientists discovered alien life – but it was their mission to overwrite it with the memory of Earth. Then humanity’s great empire fell, and the program’s decisions were lost to time.

Aeons later, humanity and its new spider allies detected fragmentary radio signals between the stars. They dispatched an exploration vessel, hoping to find cousins from Old Earth. However, those ancient terraformers woke something on Nod that was better left undisturbed. And it’s been waiting for them.