Wednesday, July 12, 2017

SciFi/Fantasy Book Review: The Edge of Worlds by Martha Wells

Long Review after the Jump (Minor Spoilers for the First Three Raksuran Books):

The First Three Books in Martha Wells' Books of the Raksura introduced us to the Court of Indigo Cloud, and followed the protagonist Moon as he learned who he was and tried to fit in with his people as they found themselves in several situations which threatened their lives and existence.

For those who missed the first three books, the series takes place in a world populated by many different sentient species, some of which are humanoids who live like humans on the ground ("Groundlings"), some are more alien species that live in the air, and some species live in the sea ("Sealings").  One species is known for causing chaos and destruction to all  those they touch, the sinister Fell, who can shift between a gargoyle/dragon-like form and a humanoid form.  But there is another species that can shift between gargoyle/dragon-like forms and humanoid forms - the Raksura, who simply want to live in peace.

Moon is a Raksura who was separated from his people at birth and didn't know what he was before the first three books.  Over the Course of those books he learned what he was (a Raksuran Consort), became a part of the Indigo Cloud Raksuran Court, learned where he came from (another Court), and entered into a relationship with Jade, the Sister-Queen of the Court.  Moreover the books introduced a decent sized cast of fun characters - the line-grandfather and wise/wiseass Stone and the confused Chime, being most prominent, but other characters are pretty fun/strong as well.

The first three books take place entirely from Moon's perspective but each book is kind of stand-alone - you might be a little confused reading Books 2-3 without reading their predecessors, but you could probably do it and each book individually told a complete story without any cliffhanger ending.  This book however, is apparently the start of a duology meant to conclude the series, and thus is not stand-alone and does end on a cliffhanger (the final book in the series came out this week).

Really you shouldn't be reading this book first, so I'm not even going to go into much of the plot summary of this book in particular.  Just know that the cast of Books 1-3 return, including some of the cast from Opal Night in Book 3 (The Siren Depths).  And of course the Book introduces several new characters, some of whom work fairly well.

The only real difference in how this book works (other than ending on a cliffhanger) from books 1-3 is that this book features several points where we see the world from other characters' points of view.  We're still in Moon's head about 80% of the time, but this is a bit of a change.  But it does work.

In short, what we have here is another book with a fun cast of characters, some solid drama with large stakes as the group once again investigates what might be the actions of their ancestors in their attempt to prevent a dreadful foreseen future, that is well paced reads really well.  If you liked the first three Raksuran books, you'll like this one.  If you haven't read those books yet, I recommend reading them before this one - you COULD start here, but you'll be behind on the characters, and those books are just as good as this one, so it's not like you'll be reading bad books to do so.

I'd rank this book as equal to the first book and behind books 2-3 really amongst the series, due to the ending not being as satisfying as I'd like (I don't mind cliffhangers per se, but this is yet another book where something teased early on doesn't occur till the very ending and that's kind of irritating, although it's a minor element here so it's not as big of a problem as say in the last book reviewed).  But it's still a really enjoyable fantasy adventure story with an excellent cast of characters, so I'm not really complaining. I look forward to reading the final volume, but it doesn't appear to be available yet in inter-library transfer so I suspect I won't get to it for a while.


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