The war for the Lowlands is reaching a critical stage, with the Wasp Empire facing battles in many cities at once. As the Fly-kinden Taki and Nero try to free the newly-occupied city of Solarno on the edge of the Spiderlands, rebellion is stirring in the Bee-kinden city of Szar following the death of their queen. Stenwold Maker and his city, Collegium, face a long siege to try and remain free from Wasp control, but his friends and allies are scattered far and wide. Some are stirring rebellions of their own, trying to force the Wasps to fight more battles than they can possible win and some are on self-imposed missions that seem doomed to fail. It has reached the moment when the Lowlands seems sure to fall, unless the desperate acts of just a few can turn the tide of battle and beat the Wasps at their own game of war.
Adrian Tchaikovsky has picked up the pace in ‘Salute The Dark’, returning to the fast and furious action that made the first book in the ‘Shadows Of The Apt’ series so enjoyable. It feels rejuvenated and really sucked me into the story in a way that the second and third books didn’t quite manage to achieve. The stories seem to be heading towards a big climax and Tchaikovsky makes some bold moves in this book that revitalise the story and leave me more curious than ever about what will happen in the next book. However, there are a couple of points I’d like to mention.
First of all, if you haven’t read the first three books in the ‘Shadows Of The Apt’ series, please go and read them before you attempt this one. This is not a standalone novel and I think a reader starting from here would be very confused before too many pages had passed. It’s quite difficult to keep track of who everyone is and what they’re currently doing even with all the prior knowledge from the earlier books in the series. At times, I really had to stop and think about where the action was based in the bit I was currently reading. I did wonder if there were perhaps a few too many strands, but Tchaikovsky just about manages to keep them all ticking over and in the end they do all come together. You do need to pay attention to each and every chapter though, so be prepared to take your time with this book.
I have to say, it was definitely worth the effort of keeping up with the myriad plot-lines. For me, this was a return to form that has rekindled my excitement in the story. Everything really comes together in this book and I can’t wait to see in what direction Tchaikovsky takes it next.
(pub: TOR-UK. 459 page paperback. Price: £ 7.99 (UK), $ 9.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-0-330-51144-5)
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