The third and final Binti novel is the largest, coming in at a whopping 203 pages. That being said, I think it was the fastest read of the three.
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
This novella is the direct conclusion to Binti: Home, resolving the mysteries of the Night Masquerade, Okwu’s fate, and the effects of the Zinariya. Binti struggles with her identity as she copes with the news of the Khoush attack on her family’s ancestral home while she was in the desert with her grandmother’s people.
How much of her is actually Himba? Not only is she part Meduse after the events of the first novella, but now she knows that her DNA is partially Zinariyan, allowing her to use an almost telepathic instant messaging system with fellow Enyi Zinariyans (formerly known as Desert People). If so much of her has changed, is she even Himba? Where does she belong?
And where does she want to belong?
This book is very visceral. Okorafor’s handling of anxiety and representation of panic attacks are wonderfully done. Her description of grief is extremely realistic and yet poetic. I understood Binti so much in those moments, I understood the people around her, trying to interact with her amid her grief. Poignant, powerful, heartbreaking. It was all of these things.
My only criticism, if you can call it that, is that this story doesn’t really feel done. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part. I’m not ready for it to be done. I want more, especially now that Mwinyi has joined the front of the cast. I enjoyed him quite a bit.
Really, I enjoyed this whole series. I loved Okwu and his world of black and white. I loved Mwinyi and his patience and understanding. I loved Binti, with all her doubts and fears. I loved Third Fish and her wisdom.
If you’re looking for an imaginative, quick read PLEASE give the Binti series a try. I doubt you’ll regret it.
I’ll be back early next week with the Goals Summary. Have a great weekend Blogland!
I’m back, as promised, to discuss the second novella in Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti series.
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Warning: Mild spoilers below
Binti: Home is exactly as it sounds; a year after the events of the first novella, Binti is desperate to get home and go on her Pilgrimage. She’s suffering from PTSD from the Meduse attack on the Third Fish and trying to cope with the otherness of being both Himba and Meduse. She thinks that, if she can go home, be with her people and breathe the desert air, things will get back to something like normal.
But, home is full of even more problems. Her family is mad at her for leaving the way she did, her friends have shunned her for being so “selfish” as to leave in the middle of the night and abandon her family, her duty, and her home. Add that she brought Okwu, and tensions are ratcheted about as high as they can go.
So instead of peace, Binti finds strife. Then she sees the Night Masquerade, a mythical being that supposedly only men can see, an omen of heroic achievements and struggle. And then the Desert People arrive to take her into the desert and learn her true heritage.
All the while tension builds between the Khoush and Okwu…
I loved Binti, but it wasn’t until I read this novella that I realized how thin it was. I wanted more. And Okorafor delivered in this installment. There’s more world-building, more character development, more intrigue as multiple plots begin to weave together to culminate in the final novella, Binti: The Night Masquerade.
This series is fantastic so far, and with installments under 200 pages, there’s really no excuse not to pick them up if you think it’d be even the least bit interesting to you. I highly recommend them!
I’ll be off the blog for the rest of the week while I’m at the Writers Conference this weekend. Expect to see a bit of activity next week, however, as I update goals, gush about my experiences at the coast, and review the final Binti novella.
As promised, I’m back to discuss the Tor novella, Binti.
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
I’m a little late to the Afro-Futurism party, but I feel like this novella was a really good place to start. It’s sparse, giving the reader only the details they need to understand the characters and the story, which is different from a lot of the Sci-Fi and Fantasy I’ve read. I’m used to long narratives with lush world building and drawn out histories. Okorafor’s novella doesn’t waste time painting the picture in broad strokes. Instead her novella is like pointillism, her prose is riddled with small details that build the world and characters just enough. The reader is expected to fill in the gaps.
Binti is a 16 year old Himba girl who is doing something none of her people have ever done: she’s leaving home. She’s been accepted to the prestigious Oomza Uni, a university that takes up an entire planet! But, her whole family is against the idea of her leaving their homeland. So, like any intelligent and headstrong 16 year old is wont to do, Binti leaves home in the wee hours to catch her transport off of Earth.
All goes well until a species of sentient jellyfish, known as the Meduse, attack the ship, leaving only Binti alive. If she wants to survive the long journey through space and prevent a slaughter once the ship arrives on Oomza Uni, Binti must do the impossible.
She must make peace with the Meduse.
At only 90 pages, I was extremely impressed with Binti. On the surface, it is a story I cannot readily relate to. I am almost painfully white, I have no sense of tribal duty, my family is not rooted in one spot by any means. I have never been the minority in any setting. Also, I’ve never been any good at math, let alone the veritable genius Binti is.
By all reasoning, it should not be easy for me to identify with Binti. But I do. I understand her, even as her experience and her perceptions are so foreign to me. When she speaks of the desert near her home, I think of the Sonoran desert and I understand her immediately. She is young and uncertain, but also so incredibly gifted with the certainty of youth.
This story is worth the afternoon you will spend reading it. And the hours you’ll spend mulling it over afterward. I’ve already started on the sequel, Binti: Home, and will start on Binti: The Night Masquerade after that. This world and the characters are simply too good not to spend my time with.
Next week will be a short one, posts-wise, since I’ll be at the Writing Conference next weekend. But, I should be back on Monday or Tuesday with the usual Goals Summary, and hopefully on Thursday or Friday morning with the review for the next Binti novella.
I’m coming out the gate strong with this one. I loved this book! It was such a fun read/listen and I wish I could go back and feel all the anticipation and curiosity all over again!
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
Minor spoilers ahead!
The Scorpio Races is a YA Fantasy, though I’d use the term lightly. Set on a fictional island in the UK during the early 1920s, the only thing out of the ordinary is the existence of the Capaill Uisce (pronounced: kappol ish-kuh, roughly) . These are mythical Celtic Water Horses, but Maggie Stiefvater has taken them beyond their legendary origins and brought them to life on the island of Thisby.
The Capaill Uisce are wild sea creatures capable of shifting from aquatic bodies to large and athletic horses on land. They are carnivorous, portrayed as blood-thirsty and obsessed with the sea when kept on shore. Each autumn the men of Thisby try to catch one to ride in the Scorpio races. And each autumn people die beneath hooves and between teeth.
Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. At 19, he’s won four out of the last six races on his chestnut stallion Corr. The horse was his father’s, who was killed during the race by the stallion when Sean was 10. Corr escaped that day, only for Sean to catch him a few years later. They’ve since forged a strong bond, but Sean keeps on his toes around the stallion all the same. It’s in the nature of the Capaill Uisce to attack, especially as November approaches.
Kate Connolly, aka Puck, is the middle child and the only girl in her house. Her older brother Gabe works constantly, and her younger brother Finn can’t seem to stop fiddling with things long enough to be a proper person. So, Puck spends all her time maintaining their old house in the wilds of Thisby and taking care of her island horse, Dove. The Connolly kids’ parents were killed in a Capaill Uisce attack an unspecified amount of time in the past, but the wound is still very much open in their house.
And Puck’s about to pour salt in the wound: she’s decided to ride in the Scorpio races.
Her decision shocks the entire island. Though there’s no rule against it, no woman has ever participated in the race, and the men of Thisby are determined to keep it that way.
The Scorpio Races is a thrilling ride, pun intended. It has all the ingredients for a satisfying YA read: First person narrative, simmering first love, and family conflicts. But, it goes above and beyond by adding heavy doses of feminism and ‘a boy and his horse’. As a huge fan of The Black Stallion books as a kid, the appearance of this trope pretty much guaranteed my enthusiasm for this book.
I should also mention that the narration for the audiobook was very well done. Steve West as Sean was gruff and very internalized, and listening to him read Puck’s dialogue in Sean’s chapters was initially hilarious. Fiona Hardingham read for Puck and she was delightful! All fiery obstinance and strong opinions. Her voice for Sean’s dialogue was equally humorous, and it really gave a sense of what the characters thought of each other. They both have strong British accents, which wasn’t a problem to me, though my personal internal monologue was suddenly British for a few days.
If you want a gripping, standalone book with interesting and well-developed characters and setting, I can’t recommend The Scorpio Races enough.
I’m still working through Gunpowder Moon. I got a bit distracted with listening to Snow Patrol after they announced their new album, so my reading has slowed down in general. but, I’m getting back on track and should have another review for y’all sometime this weekend.
I’ve let this story percolate a bit in my mind before I decided to start this review. I’m pretty sure that anything I have to say about it won’t really do Semiosis justice. But, I’m going to try.
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
This book is a wonderful example of how ideas don’t necessarily matter when it comes to writing. You could give five authors the same prompt and you’d get five different stories. I don’t think anyone could have told this story quite the way Sue Burke did.
Earth has become a war zone as humanity battles for dwindling resources. In a last ditch effort a collection of human volunteers ship off to find a new home, one they will call Pax as a promise to avoid the violent follies of life on Earth.
Life on Pax is hard, but the humans were prepared for that. What they weren’t prepared for were sentient plants.
You read that right, but by all means, go back and double check. Yep. Sentient plants.
How freaking cool is that???
Another really cool thing about this book is how Burke tells the story. It’s spread across multiple generations of the human settlers, showing their obstacles and their triumphs in weaving first person narratives that sometimes even include the plants!
And that’s what makes the book so brilliant. By including the plants, Burke gives herself the perfect outlet to explore themes like inter-species communication, what makes us human, and what it means to be part of a community.
And what happens to a peaceful community when they’re forced to fight.
I also must note that this book does a wonderful job of introducing and developing multiple characters and making the reader invested in all of them, even if they’re only ‘on screen’ for a few moments. Also, she made me root (wink, wink) for a plant. So, there’s that.
I’m gonna go out on a limb here (eh, eh??) and say that Semiosis is my favorite book I’ve read this year so far. It’s incredibly original, the prose is crisp and can lean toward the scientific without being alienating, and the characters and dynamics of the Commonwealth of Pax are fascinating.
All plant jokes aside, I’d suggest you give Semiosis a shot, and take your time with it. Let this story soak in, like water and sunshine.
Sorry this review is so short, but I really don’t want to give anything away, and I wouldn’t be able to tell you all the reasons to read it even if I tried. You’ve got to try it for yourself. I finished reading The Scorpio Races and am still working through Cold Days and Gunpowder Moon. Which means I should have two reviews for you all next week.
My favorite not-quite space pirates are back with a whole new adventure in Dark Deeds! Please take a moment to check out my reviews of the first two books, Dark Runand Dark Sky.
Last we saw them, Ichabod Drift and the crew of the Keiko had just barely escaped the storm and civil unrest of the Red Star planet Urugan. You’d think they’d shoot for a bit of peace after all of that. And you’d be right. But since when do any of Ichabod Drift’s wishes come true?
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Dark Deeds is another action-packed book that’s just as fun and amusing as its predecessors. The only reason this book received a 4-star rating is because the action didn’t quite compare with that in Dark Sky, and because some shit went down that makes me sad. I’m sticking to my new view on spoilers and keeping it vague, but… This book hardly ends on a happy note.
The book opens with a peek into the past, and yet another bar fight for Ichabod. By now, it’s tradition for Ichabod to act as the punching bag for someone in the opening pages, and it’s one I thoroughly enjoy. But, the humorous opening doesn’t last long.
Ichabod and Rourke have been kidnapped by Sergei Orlov, the mob boss from Dark Sky. You might recall that that job didn’t go as planned, and Orlov doesn’t suffer failure. He takes Rourke hostage and gives Ichabod an ultimatum: two months to get together 500,000 Stars (the Red Star government’s currency) or Rourke dies a slow and painful death.
Ichabod agrees to the terms, but he knows that even on his best day the chances of pulling together that kind of money are slim-to-none. If he has any hope of saving Rourke, he’ll have to take even greater risks.
Brooks continues to surprise me with his hilarious dialogue and his ability to create characters that are simultaneously endearing and utterly infuriating. I’m looking at you, Chang twins. I also enjoyed watching Muradov settle into his new role on the crew, and witnessing the awkward, developing relationship between Jenna and Apirana.
Basically, I love everyone and the fact that I get to read stories of all of them on these wild adventures makes me incredibly happy! Until things happen that are decidedly not happy…
I’m unsure at the moment if there will be more Keiko books. I’ve searched the web for any hint, and so far there are no whispers of forthcoming installments that I could find. I really hope it’s just being kept on the down low, because I really like these books. And, I can’t imagine that the series would end where it did.
Please, madre de Dios, don’t let Dark Deeds be the last one! I’m addicted!
I just finished reading Semiosis and will have the review up sometime this weekend. Otherwise I will be editing and writing, trying to get all the goals for this week into the black.
Finally, after months and months of trying to make time for this book, I’ve finished it.
Don’t let that be a reflection on the book; it’s not its fault. I wasn’t reading much of anything when I first checked out The Stone Sky. It’d been over a year since I read The Obelisk Gate, and though my reviews helped me remember what had happened, picking up the pieces and jumping back in was a bigger job than I was prepared to do.
But, I kept trying.
And finally, almost six months later, it’s done.
Goodreads Rating: 5/5 Stars
The Stone Sky is the final book in the Hugo award-winning Broken Earth trilogy. You can read my reviews of both The Fifth Seasonand The Obelisk Gate, but do beware of spoilers.
As in the previous two novels, Jemisin does some really interesting things with point of view, bouncing between three characters and their various timelines to tell the story of struggle and survival as Essun and her daughter unknowingly work against each other. The author spent the last two books developing the world, magic system, and characters, while delicately weaving the thread of plot through each of them, much like the silver threads of magic in the books.
By the time we get to The Stone Sky, things are getting dire. Nassun and Schaffa follow the mysterious grey Stoneater to the opposite side of the world, while Essun and the Castrima comm travel the dangerous road to the now abandoned city of Renanis.
But, it was the third point of view that was my favorite. For the first time in the series, there is a First Person narrator. It’s vague and set far back in the past, but as the story goes on you slowly put the pieces together and realize who’s been telling this story all along.
Honestly, we really should have known.
I don’t want to get too spoiler-y here, but I do need to talk a bit about this series from a writer’s perspective. This series is one that, with every book, had me constantly in awe. N.K. Jemisin is an artist. She told a story from a multitude of perspectives, many of which I could not readily relate to, and had me invested in each and every possible outcome.
She is an author who is purposeful and methodical. Nothing came across as superfluous or unnecessary, and I often had to stop and marvel at what I’d just read, especially when I realized how it connected with something I’d read in a previous book.
I will never tell a story the way N.K. Jemisin does. That’s okay. But, she has most definitely inspired me and reminded me that writing doesn’t have to be unadorned to be clear, and that genre fiction doesn’t have to be mainstream to be popular.
I cried at the end; because it was sad, yes, but also because it was perfect. How else could it have possibly ended? Ending a story, especially one as complex as The Broken Earth, is never easy. Rarely do I come to the end of a beloved series and feel satisfied with the outcome.
But, by the time I finally closed The Stone Sky for the last time, I felt… whole. There was a warmth in my chest at finally having all the pieces, and knowing how Essun, Nassun, Hoa, and all the rest ended the Fifth Season and set the world right.
It was powerful and poignant, and the series addressed such universal themes as birth, motherhood, death, and what makes a family. And it did so in a way that was indisputably natural for the world and its characters.
I still think The Fifth Season was the best book in the trilogy, in terms of enjoyment, but it was also the most straightforward of the tales. It developed the world and, really, a single character, while setting the tone and expectation of the narrative. The Obelisk Gate handled two new characters, and the bulk of the action and plot. The Stone Sky had the daunting task of bringing all of that together in a way that was effective and satisfying.
No easy task, and yet, it did so with apparent ease.
I really hope The Stone Sky wins the Hugo for Best Novel this year. I really think it and N.K. Jemisin deserve it. It’s worth mentioning here (and pretty much anywhere else) that Jemisin was the first black author to win the Hugo for Best Novel in 2016 for The Fifth Season. She did it again in 2017 for The Obelisk Gate.
I recently purchased another of her books, The Dreamblood Duology, of which I know nothing about. I bought it purely because she wrote it, and I adore her thanks to the Broken Earth trilogy. Her name on the book was all the coercion I needed.
Sadly, I won’t be reading anything from her again anytime soon. My reading list is pretty stacked at the moment. Hopefully the last half of the year will have some room to spread out and try something new.
Until then, I highly recommend The Broken Earth trilogy. Read it. You won’t be sorry.
I can’t believe February is over already! I think I feel this way each year, because it’s difficult for me to understand how missing a couple days of the month makes such a big difference. Two or three days should not make February feel like a blip on the radar of the year.
But, it does, and it makes working toward my goals that much more frantic.
What were the goals?
Edit four chapters of The Steel Armada
Get Lifelike submission ready
How’d I do?
Edit four chapters of The Steel Armada
Yes! I worked really hard to get two chapters edited on Tuesday and Wednesday, which means I finished 4 chapters in February and one in January. I’m feeling good about it.
Nope. But, I’m close. Only a chapter and half left.
Get Lifelike submission ready
Yes? I’m not sure. I did another edit of it last night. I switched the POV from third to first person and added a much needed tweak to the ending, but I’m not sure if it’s ready for submission just yet. I like it, it’s headed in the right direction, but it needs fine tuning. I’m still calling this a win.
Yep! I read something like seven books in February, boosting my Reading Challenge and giving me plenty of fodder for book reviews.
Total February Word Count: 6,623
Any icing on the cake?
I published 10 blog posts in February
3 weekly summaries, 5 book reviews, 1 monthly recap, and 1 craft discussion
Applied for a scholarship to the Oregon Writers Colony 2018 Annual Conference
I’m trying not to think too much about this, because I’m nervous and excited, but it’s constantly in the back of my mind. They’ll announce award recipients sometime in mid-March. Prepare yourselves for that post when it comes.
The Audient Void #5
I’ve taken on more duties with AV, helping the graphic designer look through the proofs before he finalizes and prints. This is always exciting, because it means another issue is about to drop!
Sharing revisions of The Steel Armada
As of 2/26, Madhu and I are back to swapping pages for feedback. She’s working on something new, while I’m sending her the reworks of my novel, per her feedback from our previous swap.
Edit five chapters of The Steel Armada
Submit The Seasons
Continue prepping Lifelike for submission
I’ve got a lot of them. They’re bouncing around my brain and keeping my anxiety up. Mainly, I’m anxious about submitting The Seasons. I haven’t submitted a piece of short fiction for publication since… 2014? And I’ve never submitted a piece of genre fiction.
Okay, yes, there was that stint with Caladria where I wrote a handful of Fantasy short stories and they were published. But that was more like a volunteer effort. They asked for writers to pump out content, and though I got some great experience writing on a deadline and feedback from editors, those stories are no longer available for purchase. They just sit in my “Caladria” file folder, collecting virtual dust.
So, this feels much more real and scary. I like The Seasons a lot. I think it’s strong. I think it’s ready. But, I just don’t know if it’s pro status. And that’s the real issue. I’m only submitting to professional markets. I want paid for my work. I don’t want resume padding and feathers in my cap. I want monetary proof that what I’m doing is worthwhile.
And so, I’m terrified.
I’m also anxious because I really want to go to this writing conference in April, and I’ll find out in a couple of weeks if I’ll be able to attend or not. I know the time will fly by, but until I know for certain whether I’ll be going or not, I’m on eggshells.
Lifelike is coming along nicely. I did some quality reworking on it last night. I actually let my husband read it, which is something I almost never do. He’s not a big reader, so his feedback isn’t critical or experienced, but he’s smart and can give a good sense of what works and what doesn’t in a story. At least, from a reader’s point of view. I’ve also sent the story back to my friend Matt, who read a previous version of it, to see what he thinks of the rework. I’m going to let it stew for the next few days and come back to it next week and see what it needs.
Other than that, I’m just reading and editing. The Steel Armada is coming along well enough. It’s a big job, and there’s some major changes that take a considerable amount of time and rewriting. Characters are getting cut/absorbed into other characters, everyone is getting fleshed out more. Backstories and motivations are becoming clearer, to me and to the reader. And holy-moly there’s so much world building! I’m worried about pacing a little, but I figure that’ll get sorted in the next draft. Right now I just need to get everything out on the page and really nail down what’s happening and why. I can clean up the mess later.
The good news is that I’m editing about 2 chapters a week. If I keep the pace up, I’ll have this draft of The Steel Armada done by June. And that is some exciting shit. If that does happen, I’ll let it sit for a month or so, and really focus on writing. I’ll either return to writing From the Quorum, or write a new short story, depends on how I feel in June.
As for reading, I’m doing well. I’m currently two books ahead of my target, and I’ve got four more in the pipeline. Hopefully I can keep up the pace and pad that Goodreads Reading Challenge before I finally crack open Oathbringer. 1,233 pages is no joke, and it’s going to take considerable time to get through it all. I don’t want to fall behind because of it, so I’m reading smaller titles and graphic novels for the time being.
So, that’s my thoughts/feelings/concerns etc., etc., about March. There’s a lot going on, but so far my efforts to piecemeal everything out into Monthly and Weekly goals is working. I’m getting shit done. And that’s really all that matters.
I’m off to work on Sanctified. I’ll be back over the weekend to share my review of The Stone Sky, so make sure you stay tuned!
I almost forgot about this book review. I was so excited that I finished reading The Stone Sky and Dark Deeds that I was going to write both of those instead. Depending on how the week goes, I still might.
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
This book was probably my least favorite Dresden book so far. That makes it sound like a bad book, which I don’t think is actually fair. It is not a bad book. In fact, as far as action, plot, and character development are concerned, it’s a really good book. But, by the end, I found myself asking, was it really necessary?
I mean, it was good to see Dresden finally realize the ramifications of his actions, to see how much his decisions (good or bad) affect the people around him. I did not like seeing Murph, Molly, and Thomas in their various states throughout this book, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t necessary for Dresden nor good for the story.
It was also nice to see Mort again, reunite with some old faves like Butters and the Alphas, and meet new folks like Sir Stewart and Daniel Carpenter. There were some interesting viewpoints explored and some good character development that might not have happened otherwise.
But overall this book just left me with a big old question mark over my head. Was this really necessary? Did anything in this book matter to what came before? Will it matter to what comes after? I’m unsure. I’ve started Cold Days, but just barely, so there’s nothing to report on that front.
I think what made this book so difficult for me is that, despite the Dresden first person POV, this book wasn’t really about Harry. It was about his friends and allies, all characters I love, but am unused to having such a priority in the narrative.
I should mention that I still thoroughly enjoyed my time reading this book. It was a good story, and I’m always happy to be in Dresden’s world, especially if James Marsters is narrating it. I had to join Audible to get the Marsters version, because the original recording was with a different voice actor. There was no way, after twelve books with Marsters’ fantastic readings, that I could listen to somebody else pretend to be Dresden. To me, it was worth the effort to sign up and get the 30-day trial.
By now you’ve probably noticed that I am avoiding any concrete details in this review. That’s because this book is one great big spoiler. I will do my best, going forward, to keep spoilers in my reviews from being too egregious. I don’t want to accidentally ruin anything for anyone, especially in a series this long. It’s a lot of time and dedication to read/listen to all of these books. I refuse to be the person that let’s the cat out of the proverbial bag.
Later this week I’ll post the review for The Stone Sky. If all goes well with my goals for the week, I might post the Dark Deeds review. If not, it’ll get slated for next week.
When I saw on Goodreads that there was another Red Rising book slated for a January release, I immediately went to my library’s catalog and put it on hold. Now, if you’re relatively new to this blog, you might want to take this opportunity to read my reviews of the previous installments of the series.
Now, from those reviews, you might gather that I am a real big fan of this series. A big enough fan that my excitement for Iron Gold, though considerable, was wary. The series wasn’t really left open at the end of Morning Star. I was happy with how the author wrapped things up, and I wasn’t confident that the series needed to be reopened. Was this another mad-grab for cash like so many content creators seem wont to do? Would Darrow and company be belittled by a story that wasn’t really strong enough to warrant another book, let alone another trilogy as Brown suggested?
Thankfully, Pierce Brown shared a lot of my concerns. In his acknowledgments at the back of the book, he admits that he was hesitant to return to the world of Red Rising, that it took a long time to convince him that it was the right decision.
And, I do believe it was the right decision. Aside from a slightly predictable story-line in Darrow’s point of view, the plots and characters are very well done, intricate and dynamic, just as I’ve come to expect from the author. Character voices are distinct, their backgrounds diverse, and despite their actions and motivations, I found myself rather enamored with each of them.
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
The only reason it didn’t get a full five stars is because of the predictable ending of Darrow’s point of view story-line. Otherwise this was a wonderful book. I would not suggest starting with Iron Gold. This is not the beginning of a new standalone franchise, but the continuation of what came before, set 10 years after the ending of Morning Star. Brown does not stymie his narrative with explanations of who established characters are, which I found slightly jarring since it’s been over a year since I read the originals, but I caught up quick enough.
The handling of new characters was also well done. Brown’s novels are very action driven, you learn who characters are through their behaviors and their reactions to the conflicts they’re faced with. And man, is there a lot of conflict, and these problems weave through the various narratives connecting everyone into one large plot arc. It was really well done, and once I realized what was happening, really upped the dramatic irony.
So, who are all these characters? Beware minor spoilers below.
Well, there’s Darrow, of course. He’s the ArchImperator and leader of the Sovereign’s armies. He’s stubborn and righteous as ever, and he’s tired. Ten years of war will do that to a person. And it shows, not only in Darrow, but in Sevro and Victra, Wulfgar and Mustang too. There are familiar faces everywhere in Darrow’s chapters and it’s like coming home, only to find that the rooms you once cherished have been left in disarray in your absence. Worn and frayed. That’s the best way to describe the old Golds.
There’s Lyria, a Gamma Red whose family has been freed from the mines only to sit in squalor in one of the refugee camps on Mars. It’s a very visceral and immediate way to understand the fallout of the Sons of Ares’ revolution. Lyria herself is very bitter and angry, quite understandably, but her vitriol for all things Rising left a sour taste in my mouth. I understood her, but that didn’t mean I had to agree with her. And I very much thought this divide would leave me disliking her, but it turned out I was rather fond of Lyria by the time all is said and done.
There’s Ephraim, a Gray who’s seen and lost too much to feel his life is worth much of anything. He spends his days drinking himself to death, and his nights hatching heists for the highest bidders. He’s cold and sharp-tongued, all in an effort to hide away the pain of losing his fiance to the Rising’s war. Ephraim should not be an easy man to love, and yet I found him incredibly endearing. I desperately wanted him to redeem himself; I didn’t want someone to save him, but I needed him to save himself.
And then there’s Lysander. Yes, that Lysander. He was ten years old the last time we saw him, when Cassius swept him away to save him, and to fulfill the hole that Julian’s death left in him. Now, Lysander is no longer a child, though he struggles to know who he is as a man, especially in Cassius’ shadow. Lysander’s viewpoint was probably my favorite. He’s eloquent, perceptive, and oh so naive. Of course, he’s cursed with the arrogance of youth. Lysander doesn’t think he’s naive, he thinks he is the silver-tongued heir of Lune. Which I guess he is to some extent, but not to the amount he thinks.
The book leaves everyone on quite the cliffhanger, and I am regretting my decision to read the book so quickly after its release. Now I have to wait until who-knows-when for the sequel! But, I’m sure it will be well worth the wait.
I’m on track to finish The Stone Sky this week, and will hopefully speed read through Dark Deeds so I can start Semiosis while we’re in Arizona. Don’t expect to hear from me after Monday, until the following week. If you do, consider it a bonus.