I heard about these books when reading an article relating to the Hugo Awards and the rise of female written Scifi: each book in the series had won (2016, 2017, 2018) which is an impressive achievement irrespective of gender. Reviews convinced me and I have to admit I was more than intrigued by what made a “female” book different.
Having read and really enjoyed The Fifth Season I have to say that there are only differences if are you used to reading Scifi full of two dimensional characters engaged in adventures heavy on action and with relationship ‘bits’ thrown in as filler. Neal Stephenson and Adrian Tchaikovsky to name but two excel in the development of rich characters and complex relationships to the equal of this author. In fact the only time I thought I detected any gender specific content was in a sentence within a short paragraph describing a copulation and a few internal character monologues relating to a mother and her child – insightful yes but hardly a revolution in writing.
Moving onto the series I found it engaging and intriguing with an occasional raised eyebrow caused by timing: there was one passage where I am sure more time should have passed but it didn’t interfere with the overall flow. The universe so offered is revealed in a well paced manner that makes you ask lots of questions which are then slowly answered even as more are generated. I am intrigued to see if it goes where I think it might. Characters were excellent, well described, differentiated, and with complex and well-maintained back stories.
Oddly I kept having flashbacks to other books I had read and it took a few days before I realised which: The Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. I am not sure whether it is the world itself – dust everywhere, eruptions, a planet dying, characters with unusual skills – but there as a definition feeling of deja-vu.
The first book is a wonderful introduction to the universe and you certainly shape the complex characters relatively easily in your mind. The second book carries the story forward well and begins to flesh out the world, both its history and its construction. Again it is relationships that stand at the front of this work and it was a pleasure to walk along in the footsteps of the characters. Entering the final book the details of the past are brought into focus and the two strands of current and previous are woven together. I particularly enjoyed the discussions of the older civilisation, in much the same way as I enjoyed the discussion of the Dragon city in Robin Hobb’s Rain Wild Chronicles. Sadly, in the same way, I found that what I really wanted to explore was the history of those great civilisations. Perhaps in a future book or series?
I thought the climax and ending section to be satisfying – an area that is often a disappointment no matter how good the main tale has been.
Fleecy Moss, author of the Folio 55 series (writing as Nia Sinjorina), End of a Girl, Undon , and 4659 now available on Amazon.