THE GREAT TCHAIKOVSKY RE-READ: EMPIRE IN BLACK AND GOLD
21 June 2012
By Robert Grant
In August, we publish The Air War, the new novel in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt series. The Air War is book 8 in Adrian’s critically acclaimed heroic fantasy series. We thought a recap of the action so far might be handy and invited Robert Grant, Literary Editor at SCI-FI-LONDON and a fan of the series, to re-read and give us a weekly review of each book between now and August. We kick off today with Adrian’s debut novel, Empire in Black and Gold...
At first glance Adrian Tchaikovsky's debut looks like any other fantasy novel, but dig deeper and you’ll discover a richly textured world populated by complex characters in a fascinating and action-packed story of political intrigue and personal drama beautifully woven against the backdrop of an epic world war.
Central to this unique world is its population by insect kinden; humans that inherit the traits of their insect ancestors. Beetle-kinden are methodical, skilled artisans and engineers, Ant-kinden operate as a hive-mind and Mantis-kinden are deadly warriors. These traits instantly create kinship and animosity amongst like-kinden, along with contempt for half-breeds, and it’s brilliant shorthand for introducing new characters. It’s also a world where technology and craftsmanship have relegated magic to the stuff of children's stories which makes the Moth-kinden with their mystic rituals the butt of many jokes, but equally makes the technology obsessed Beetle-kinden, and war-mongering Wasp-kinden, vulnerable to that which they cannot quantify.
Empire in Black and Gold is a superb first outing, a debut so full of potential that the rest of the Shadows Of The Apt series promises much. The action throughout is gripping and it builds slowly but surely to an explosive climax that continues to reward the reader long after the final page.
Catch up with Adrian on his blog, ShadowsOfTheApt.com For more news and reviews from Robert Grant, go to the SCI-FI-LONDON website