Sunday, June 4, 2017

SciFi/Fantasy Book Review: The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells

Long Review after the Jump:

The Cloud Roads is the first in Martha Wells' now completed fantasy series: Books of the Raksura (which consists of five novels and several short stories).  That said, this book is basically a stand alone.   I've read the entire series now, and it's now one of my favorites, with this book beginning the series.  This is basically the smallest book of the series - the series really expands by Book 3 (The Siren Depths) - but it is still sweet with excellent characters. 

-----------------------------------------Plot Summary-----------------------------------------
Moon doesn't know what he is.  He's some type of being who can shapeshift between a human-like form and a massive bird-like form and the only others of his kind he's seen were his mother and siblings, who were lost long ago.  For years he has tried to live amongst other more-human races, hiding his true identity, for the evil Fell species is another human/flier shapeshifter species known to destroy and kill the other ground species.

But when his latest village discovers who he is and attempts to kill him, Moon is saved by another of his kind, Stone, who takes him back to a village of his people. Moon comes to find that he is a Raksura, and a special one at that: A Consort, the only type who can breed with a Raksura Queen.   But the village, the Indigo Court, is not only dealing with a potential power struggles between the two remaining Queens, each of whom may want Moon for their own, but the dangerous Fell, who have mysterious designs for the Raksura which cannot be good....can Moon find a place for himself amongst these people and does he even want to?  And can he save them from the Fell?

The Cloud Roads sets up a really interesting world, filled with multiple species. But really the focus is on Moon, who well, as a loner for his entire life, struggles to really figure out what he should be doing when finally meeting his people...especially when these people have their own designs for him as a Consort.  It's really well done.

The other characters aren't quite as focused upon - basically we have Stone, Pearl and Jade who get some development - which makes some beats not land as well as they might (There's a "someone is a traitor" subplot which doesn't quite land because I didn't care about any of the potential traitor characters, but it's minor) - although Pearl's plotline takes a twist from what you would expect from a story like this, which I liked.  And Stone is a terrific mentor character - take Obi Wan but make him not philosophical but instead snarky and impatient, and you get Stone.  Oh and he's also the biggest Raksura in the cast, making him have some teeth to his words. 

All in all, I enjoyed this a bit and did get around eventually to reading the sequels - which my library (through Hoopla) carried as e-books.  The Cloud Roads is probably the weakest of the series, but it's still very solid and the series is well worth reading. 

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