Another belated review, darn life getting in the way. I was lucky enough to get an e-arc of this one, and then I won a physical copy (which means I get to admire the beautiful cover in all it’s glory). Goodbye to the Sun is also currently on tour with Storytellers on Tour (schedule HERE) so please check that out as well.
*Disclaimer: ‘I was given a copy this book in exchange for an honest review, all views are my own.’*
A nonstop thrill ride across an unstable galaxy, combining moral struggle with character-driven adventure…
Tucked away in the blue sands of Kol 2, the Motes are on the brink of cultural collapse. Razor, a bold and daring pilot, leads a last-ditch gambit against their local oppressors, the Targitians. The plan – abduct visiting Ambassador Keen Draden and use him as a bargaining chip to restore her people’s independence in the Sagittarius Arm. But when the operation unravels, Razor is forced to renegotiate terms with the arrogant diplomat.
Light years away on Heroon a radical resistance blossoms. The alluring rainforest planet haunts Keen. All his problems started there during the Patent War, but it’s where Razor’s troubles may find a solution. The moral tide ebbs, exposing an impossible choice that links their futures together more tragically than they ever thought possible.
Goodbye to the Sun: a space opera inspired by the Greek tragedy, Antigone.
A Space Opera that takes best of that form, a large-scale, multi-layered universe, with events happening across that spectrum and nothing happening in isolation, but combining that with a narrower, character-driven focus to give you the best of both worlds. Goodbye to the Sun treads that line beautifully, giving us that sense of scale without it being overwhelming, and employing one of my favourite approaches to worldbuilding, wherein the breadth and depth of the world is revealed and built up alongside the story and characters, with everything progressing as the book progresses. It’s an approach that works particularly well here because of how layered the world is, and gives us the wonderful feeling that we’re uncovering the secrets of the universe (without revealing everything!).
The world-building is beautifully done, but complex. There is a lot going on in this book, and even though it unfolds along with the story, you need to get your head around the technology, the environment (both in the sense of location and how it was being utilised), cultural practices and politics on multiple scales and between different people. It’s worth the work. The detail and richness really brings this universe to life and adds multiple dimensions to the stories of our two main characters Razor and Keen. I want to come back to the environmental aspect, as it plays into the series name, but also feels incredibly relevant in a time where renewables such as wind energy are becoming so important (I’m a geographer, don’t mind me…) but taken to the extreme? Or perhaps the wrong direction would be more accurate, with the focus on capitalising and even consuming the environment to focus on that – a good thing taken too far. Also, the wind tides are such a wonderful image, and somewhat terrifying.
Another aspect of the worldbuilding that I really appreciated was how Nevair explored the idea of gender in this future universe. In Goodbye to the Sun, gender is something that is never assumed upon meeting – something we could do with a lot more of in our time – but instead is an integral part of even the most basic introductions and exchange of information. It is so built-in, that the context of the meeting does not offer a reason to avoid this step, so even in the case of a hostage situation it is an expected exchange between hostage and captor – and this is the norm on a galactic scale. Gender can either be hand-signed or signalled via suffixes attached to the name, and this includes being able to indicate if this and the associated pronouns are fixed or fluid and may change in the future. It’s a fascinating experiment in what could be possible, and I love that it was just part of this universe and the people inhabiting it.
Within the sheer scope of this world though, the story itself is intensely character-driven, through the POVs of Razor and Keen, who offer us very different perspectives on what is happening and what has happened. Razor is both our gateway to the Motes – one of the people and factions on KO2, and part of the immediate conflict – but also offers us a retrospective viewpoint on the events, and on Keen. This created an unusual effect, wherein in places we almost knew the outcome of the chapter that would follow from Keen’s present tense POV, but simultaneously gave us a different view and interpretation of what was happening. It felt fitting for a story that is built on different cultures and peoples colliding, that we would get to see different viewpoints and I felt that it worked well. The two POV characters have unique voices and experiences, shaping their interactions with one another and the situation around them, and as their actions drove the story forward, we can see them growing and developing in response and it felt much as though we were on the journey with them.
Goodbye to the Sun is a fantastic multi-faceted book, with layers within layers in both the characters and the worldbuilding and action. The various aspects all felt very integrated and organic, with how the different moving parts come together or influence one another, and it was through this in particular that you get the feeling of the space opera shining through because nothing was happening in isolation. A strong debut, and a great start to a new series that I will be following with interest…plus it has a stunning cover, what more could you want or need to add this book to your shelf?
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book.