Can’t Wait Wednesday : Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky

cageofsoulsThe Sun is bloated, diseased, dying perhaps. Beneath its baneful light, Shadrapur, last of all cities, harbours fewer than 100,000 human souls. Built on the ruins of countless civilisations, surviving on the debris of its long-dead progenitors, Shadrapur is a museum, a midden, an asylum, a prison on a world that is ever more alien to humanity.

Bearing witness to the desperate struggle for existence between life old and new, is Stefan Advani, rebel, outlaw, prisoner, survivor. This is his testament, an account of the journey that took him into the blazing desolation of the western deserts; that transported him east down the river and imprisoned him in verdant hell of the jungle’s darkest heart; that led him deep into the labyrinths and caverns of the underworld. He will treat with monsters, madman, mutants. The question is, which one of them will inherit this Earth?

Due for publication April 2019

Redemption’s Blade: After The War by Adrian Tchaikovsky

redemptionOkay, here it is – I’ve written and deleted this review about three times and I’m still just as conflicted and frustrated with myself now as I was at the start so here it is: my feelings on Redemption’s Blade are a bit mixed.  I can’t deny it was an easy read, I love the writing style of Adrian Tchaikovsky and if this turns out to be the start in a series of adventures by this motley crew then I can definitely say I’d like to pick up more from the world of Celestaine and her sidekicks.

Redemption’s Blade comes after all the horrific events that usually take place in a novel have come to an end and the tyrant ruler has been killed or overthrown.  I really like this as an idea because it gives us a chance to see what happens next and there’s certainly plenty of food for thought contained within these pages.

The world here has suffered greatly with huge swathes of land now being uninhabitable.  On top of that tensions, prejudice, fear and hate are par for the course. Regardless of ‘side’ everybody suffered during the reign of the Kinslayer and the bloodshed and loss have created an ugly atmosphere where the need for revenge is barely kept in check and on top of that, travel too far into the wilderness and some people still think the war is going on.  I loved the world created here.  I guess there’s an expectation that when you kill the tyrant everyone goes back to their lives again but in actual fact a lot of those lives have been destroyed or left in tatters.

In terms of the characters we follow Celestaine.  Slayer of the Kinslayer she can barely enter a town without being immediately recognised and revered.  Although, travelling with two Yorughan as companions (the former enemy) usually puts something of a dampener on the over enthusiastic displays of anyone she encounters.  Celeste is a conflicted character.  Known as the hero of the war she suffers from the guilt of knowing that the victory was anything but single handed, I guess she’s experiencing a form of ‘impostor’ syndrome coupled with a crisis of identity as a hero in a world where there is no longer a need for heroics.  Her companions are two Yorughan.  Creations of the Kinslayer these are huge creatures, strong and with keen eyesight as a result of many years spent in the bowels of the earth.  These two are interesting characters and are a great demonstration of the fact that war is sometimes just purely a matter of unhappy chance.  They and the rest of their race were manipulated by the Kinslayer and made to fight, dissenters were tortured or killed.  There are other characters who come into play along the way but I won’t mention them here and there’s also a storyline with two collectors who seem to be seeking the same magical artefact that Celeste is in search of.

The plot is fairly simple in nature and involves a quest.  Celeste, in an attempt to find new meaning to her life, is trying to put to rights some of the atrocities committed by the Kinslayer, one of which was the almost annihilation of the Aethani race and the mutilation of those that survived.

In terms of my overall feelings.  I felt to an extent that the plot suffered a little.  In real terms this isn’t an epic adventure to save the world and yet there feels like there’s an identity crisis going on wherein the story wants to be more than it should or more than I expected (I suppose more to the point).  I think I was anticipating a smaller more concentrated focus but it felt like Celeste and her companions went from one near death situation to the next and to be honest it started to feel like a continuous loop.  I think I reached a point where I didn’t feel tension or fear on behalf of the characters.  Having given this plenty of thought, the real issue for me is that my expectations had headed in a different direction than the story took and it took me a little while to come to terms with that.

All that being said, I like this author and his prose brings the world and the characters to life in a way that feels deceptively easy.  He handles descriptions well and manages to avoid the trap of over egging the pudding or turning the story into a history lesson.  I thought there was a lot of food for thought here about war in general, the winners and the losers and their motivations.  The blood fuelled hatred that survives long after the enemy has been destroyed, stoked by a need for revenge and conflicted characters who now question their own actions and the reasons behind them.  I think this could be a really entertaining series where Celeste and her team travel from place to place putting wrongs to right – I’m not sure if that is the intention but I certainly hope so and I would pick up more books to check out what comes next.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.



Can’t Wait Wednesday : Redemption’s Blade: After The War by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Can't Wait Wednesday

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme that was originally created by Breaking the Spine.  Unfortunately Breaking the Spine are no longer hosting so I’m now linking my posts up to Wishful Endings Can’t Wait Wednesday. Don’t forget to stop over, link up and check out what books everyone else is waiting for.  If you want to take part, basically, every Wednesday, we highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week my book is : Redemption’s Blade: After The War by Adrian Tchaikovsky.  I want this book in my life.

redemption.jpgTen years ago, the renegade demigod known as the Kinslayer returned. His armies of monsters issued from the pits of the earth, spearheaded by his brutal Yorughan soldiers. He won every battle, leaving burnt earth and corruption behind. Thrones toppled and cities fell as he drove all before him. And then he died. A handful of lucky heroes and some traitors amongst his own, and the great Kinslayer was no more.

Celestaine was one such hero and now she has tasked herself to correct the worst excesses of the Kinslayer and bring light back to her torn-up world. With two Yorughan companions she faces fanatics, war criminals and the monsters and minions the Kinslayer left behind as the fragile alliances of the war break down into feuding, greed and mistrust.

The Kinslayer may be gone, but he cast a long shadow she may never truly escape.

Due for publication: 26th July 2018

Dogs of War by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Posted On 20 November 2017

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dogs of warDogs of War is one of those books that turned into a very happy surprise for me.  I requested a copy of this because I’ve read this author before and liked his style of writing and so whilst the theme worried me a little, because I imagined it was going to maybe be a bit more military style than I would normally attempt, I had faith that Tchaikovsky would win me over.  I wasn’t wrong.  Dogs of War is so much more than a military style story, in fact after the first few chapters of action and warfare it turns into a different style of drama completely.  This is a thought provoking story that really packs a punch.

Rex is a bioform. I’m not going to try and describe all the mechanics of this but basically he’s a genetically modified dog, part human and with heavy duty warfare installed for good measure.  He’s the controlling unit for a Multi-form Assault Pack, an incredible fighting team that includes the characters Dragon, Honey and Bees.  Each of these have their own unique abilities that I won’t dwell on here but take it from me, this is a deadly team of bioforms that you don’t want to tangle with.  Now, Rex controls the unit and Rex’s master controls him.  Rex wants to be a good dog.  He’s programmed to obey not to think and if he’s told to kill he fulfils his orders with ruthless efficiency.  Unfortunately, whilst his actions and motivations are easy to discern those of his master have gone a little awry and Rex and his unit eventually go rogue.

The story then changes tack completely, it moves through a courtroom style drama and then goes on almost into a conspiracy theory style story but at it’s heart and soul is a discussion about rights.  Do Rex and his team have any rights basically, a similar theme to those explored recently in stories concerning AI.  If you create something, a weapon, a machine – does it have ‘rights.  Should Rex and his team, and in fact the hundreds of other bioforms created be allowed to live if they’re deemed dangerous.  Of course Rex is dangerous, everything about him is threatening, his size, his speed, his voice – don’t even get started on the weapons.  No doubt you’ll have heard the phrase ‘there’s no such thing as a bad dog – just bad owners’ – is there any such thing as a bad weapon and isn’t Rex so much more than just a weapon?  Clearly in this instance he and his team are intended as the scapegoats.

I really enjoyed this book.  It’s incredibly compelling, it does jump around in a most surprising fashion and it’s told from a number of POVs but it’s crazily addictive to read and I could barely put it down.  If I was to pin down what really made this book so good for me I’d have to say the characters and the way in which it really makes you think.  I felt near to tears on a couple of occasions – which is not something I ever expected when picking up a book about warfare and bioforms involving 7 or 8 foot tall dogs, and I kept thinking about it for days after completion.  That to me spells out a winning book.

I think it really speaks of the author’s writing chops that he can make me love a team of fighting bioforms.  Honey is amazing,  Dragon, maybe more briefly sketched and yet still easy to picture and Bees – I won’t go there because I don’t even know where to start.  I cared about them all but I absolutely loved Rex and I was consumed with an equal desire to shout at him for being idiotic and scratch behind his ears (which, apart from the fact I couldn’t reach could be a dangerous thing to do).

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this.  If, like me, you find yourself maybe not drawn to a military style story then be assured that isn’t really the main focus – of course, there’s some warfare involved and to say it’s a dirty war would be an understatement but this book has much more to offer than that.  It makes you think and it definitely provokes strong emotions.

I’m going to leave it there.  I don’t want to give too much away about the nature of the surprises in store, this is a great novel because of the surprising way it adapts, much like the bioforms and other creations within the story.

I would have no hesitation in recommending this.  I received a copy courtesy of the publisher, through Netgalley, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

This review was initially published on The Speculative Herald here.

Waiting on Wednesday: Spiderlight by Adrian Tchaikovsky

“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine.  Every Wednesday we get to highlight a book that we’re really looking forward to.  This week I’m highlighting: Spiderlight by Adrian Tchaikovsky, check it out and be warned *scary cover*.  This book looks awesome and sounds fantastic: ‘exhilarating fantasy quest from Adrian Tchaikovsky’ – do I really need to say any more?  I think not, I rest my case and you’re welcome.

SpiderlightThe Church of Armes of the Light has battled the forces of Darkness for as long as anyone can remember. The great prophecy has foretold that a band of misfits, led by a high priestess will defeat the Dark Lord Darvezian, armed with their wits, the blessing of the Light and an artifact stolen from the merciless Spider Queen.

Their journey will be long, hard and fraught with danger. Allies will become enemies; enemies will become allies. And the Dark Lord will be waiting, always waiting…

Spiderlight is an exhilarating fantasy quest from Adrian Tchaikovsky, the author of Guns at Dawn and the Shadows of the Apt series.

Due out August 2nd


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