Cataveiro (Book Two Of The Osiris Project) by E.J. Swift (book review)

July 29, 2015 | By | Reply More

Patagonia lies between the Republic of Antarctica and the northern state of Alaska, two groups who are at war. The fragile peace it enjoys is centred on impartiality but, as plagues ravage its communities and northern raiders kidnap its people, that peace is threatened. Ramona is a pilot or, more accurately, the pilot, being the owner of the only plane left in Patagonia. Making maps and delivering messages for the government keeps Ramona busy but, when she finds out her mother is in trouble, nothing will stop Ramona from going to her.


Taeo, on the other hand, has nothing to do but bide his time and hope that his exile from Antarctica will soon be over. When he finds a survivor from a shipwreck, Vikram, who claims to come from the city of Osiris, Taeo sees an opportunity to get back in the good grace of his superiors and find a way home to his family. But keeping Vikram secret won’t be easy and too many questions could get them both killed. You see, everyone in the north thinks Osiris was destroyed and if word gets out that it survived, everything Taeo and Ramona love could be annihilated.

‘Cataveiro’ is the second book in E.J. Swift’s ‘Osiris Project’ series. It stands apart from the first book, ‘Osiris’, so if you haven’t read that one (though I do recommend it, I thoroughly enjoyed it), it’s still accessible. The only common character is Vikram and his role in this is pretty secondary for most of the book.

In fact, if I didn’t know ‘Cataveiro’ was the second book in a series, I would never have guessed it. We’re introduced to a fresh set of characters, new locations and a whole new set of global politics that is impressively detailed. The post-apocalyptic setting is introduced really well and, as more and more titbits of its history are introduced, you get a really good feel for why the place is the way it is. Struggles for water, uninhabitable areas of land and a mistrust of technology all have roots in the history that Swift has built for this place.

I love the way Swift paints her characters. We’re presented with a nice mix of male and female characters that all come with their own quirks and who come across as well-rounded and individual characters. Ramona is determined and stubborn but hates to be cooped up indoors, much preferring the freedom of the skies given to her by the plane. Yet we know she can’t resist helping people, no matter how much it will cost her, and family means a great deal to her, too.

Taeo is a man who revealed truths he should have kept to himself and has been punished by being exiled to Patagonia. He just wants to get home to his wife and children and it doesn’t matter to him what he must do to achieve that goal. Despite that, he comes across as quite a timid character who takes a long time to make up his mind and worries about everything unless he’s high on opium. They’re both great to get to know and the action is definitely focused on these two for most of the book, but some of the minor characters are also delightful. The Alaskan with her black eyes and network of informants is wonderfully enigmatic and I loved the ruthlessness of Senorita Xiomara, the energy magnate.

Plot-wise, this definitely feels like part one of something bigger. It has plenty to keep it going, with strands about raiders, Taeo’s mission to get home, Vikram’s past and Ramona’s search for her mother, but doesn’t really reach any conclusions. Things move forward quite nicely but then suddenly the end appears and it does so without much warning. I don’t really mind that because I know there’s another book to go in this series, but it does contrast with the fairly complete story that Swift gave us in book one, ‘Osiris’, of this series.

I don’t think that ‘Cataveiro’ hits the same standard as ‘Osiris’ in many ways. The story feels unfinished and the pacing isn’t quite as good. Then again, I loved ‘Osiris’ so it was a pretty high mark to hit with any follow up. I enjoyed ‘Cataveiro’, too, but I feel like I haven’t come close to finishing that story arc yet. At the moment, this series contains two very separate books with quite different styles, so I’m really intrigued to see how Swift brings them together in the series finale.

Vinca Russell

July 2015

(pub: Del Rey/Ballantine-UK, 2014. 383 page enlarged paperback. Price: £12.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-091953-07-2

pub: Del Rey/Ballantine Books-UK, 2014. 383 page small enlarged paperback. Price: £ 8.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-091953-08-9)

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Category: Books, Scifi

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