Today I am delighted to be reviewing Shards of Earth by Adiran Tchaikovsky as part of the Write Reads Blog Tour, this is the first book in the Final Architecture trilogy which is due for release on the 27th May.
You can check out the rest of the tour using the #ShardsofEarth on twitter and through the blogs listed HERE on the schedule.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review, all views are my own.’*
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.
Praise for Adrian Tchaikovsky:
‘Brilliant science fiction’ – James McAvoy on Children of Time
‘Full of sparkling, speculative invention’ – Stephen Baxter on The Doors of Eden
Shards of Earth is the first thrilling instalment in the Final Architecture trilogy – by the Arthur C. Clarke award-winning novelist Adrian Tchaikovsky.
This was my first foray into an Adrian Tchaikovsky book, and it won’t be my last as I was hooked from the first page and devoured this book in the space of a couple of days. Grumbling at having to work and do other things rather than read this book and having a very late night as I hit the later stages of the book where it became completely impossible for me to put it down.
Sci-Fi is a genre I tend to dip in and out of, and I often find that it is the technical details that lose me, but that was not the case here. Shards of Earth throws us into the action right from the start, opening with a frontline battle against an Architect that immediately sold me on this book, and was a brilliant way of establishing not just the threat – and the stakes – but some of the major groups, and two of our main characters, before plunging into the true depths of this universe.
Tchaikovsky has created a richly detailed, and expansive universe and particularly during the first chapters of this book there is a lot of different details, peoples and characters to come to grips with, and for the most part, we are trusted to make sense of it – although aided by some of the most spectacularly vivid writing I’ve read in a while, with those same details so easy to visualise that it felt as though you had been dropped into the universe in person rather than absorbing it through ink and page. There is – as I discovered after finishing the book – a helpful glossary and timeline at the back of the book which is a fantastic reference point, although I very much enjoyed unravelling the complexities of the different species, planets and different political systems as I went, and for me personally, that was very much part of the experience of the book.
There were many fascinating species and aspects to life in space – I enjoyed the concept of unspace and the idea of something looking back, and again the writing helped bring that unsettling feeling to life so that there were a couple of times during travel when I would pause and feel the need to look around. From aliens to robotics, and composite beings, the universe is vast and diverse, and each was realised even during brief interactions. However, if I had to pick a favourite, I think it would be the Architects. I loved everything about the Architects (which might not be how you’re supposed to feel towards them), but as disturbing as they were, they were endlessly fascinating to me. There are still so many questions about them, and their purpose and I can’t wait to discover the answers, but every encounter with them or the legacy of their presence was some of my favourite parts of the book, and just the sheer imagery of what they could do to planets and ships and the idea that even those who had lost their worlds to this process of recreation could see something more than wanton destruction in what they had done – a design, a terrible beauty, a purpose not yet understood – and there was something haunting about that.
This is a vast space opera, and we encounter many peoples and characters throughout the book, and yet at the core, is the crew of the Vulture God. It’s not necessarily as immediate as the worldbuilding, as where we are thrown into the deep end of the universe, the characters are built up over time, and we get to know them through their journeys and struggles. There was very much a found family vibe to this crew, which was fantastic, without losing the differences brought through their different cultures and experiences, and the conflict that those differences fed into at times.
Solace and Idris who we had met right at the beginning are both interesting characters, albeit ones that it took a little longer to unravel – and I particularly enjoyed watching the former become more and more involved as a member of the crew. As well as the differences between the two who had in different ways been adapted to protect the colonies, with one embracing that duty and the restrictions it came with and one rejecting it and choosing to live free, and their shared history. However, the entire crew stood out as individuals, each bringing a different element to the group. Rollo was possibly the most relatable, as he was the ‘father’ of the group, and you could see that in his manner, way of speaking – calling the others ‘children’ and his wrath when their home and family are attacked, a little rough and ready, he was the heart of the group. Kris was probably my favourite – her backstory intrigued me, and she was an interesting character who you wouldn’t expect to find in a crew like this, and yet is an integral part even beyond her partnership with Idris. Olli – the drone specialist – was another that really stood out and I always enjoyed it when she was on the page, waiting to see what she was going to do next – also her Scorpion was possibly one of the best bits of technology in the book.
Shards of Earth was a brilliant read and blew whatever expectations I had out of the water. A fascinating and beautifully detailed universe, with vivid imagery and a fantastic cast, this is a book I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend. My only complaint? That I have to wait for the next book. Although I have every intention of exploring more by the author while I wait, as well as rereading this one long before then because there was so much to this universe that I know I will be discovering little details for many rereads to come.
About the Author:
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.
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.