Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Empire in Black and Gold reviewed at SFFWorld

This week’s review at SFFWorld is a book that received a nice amount of positive buzz when initially published in the UK in 2008. Smartly, Lou Anders at Pyr snapped up the series and published in their proven monthly installment format beginning in March. The book in question is Empire in Black and Gold by Adrian Tchaikovsky, the first book in his Shadows of the Apt series/milieu:

What Tchaikovsky does to really set his novel and creation apart is the inventive world building. Nations are associated with an insect totem (or kinden), such as the Wasp-kinden of the title who can take to the air, or the Mantis-kinden known as great warriors, or Beetle-kinden who are considered tinkers of technology. Each of these kinden have a specific knowledge and technical skill, or aptitude, thus the Shadows of the Apt umbrella under which this series falls.

This world; however, isn’t a flat-out horse-and-carriage fantasy world. Oh no, no. In many ways, there’s a steampunk feel to the world, with machinery and factories giving a feel almost reminiscent of the World Wars of the first half of the Twentieth Century. This is contrasted nicely with the magic hinted at throughout the novel. What makes it more impressive is how Tchaikovsky weaves the technology and magic together.

While the book didn’t completely connect with me, I recognize some cool things Tchaikovsky did and will likely return to the subsequent books in the series at a later day.

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