(2015) Justina Robson, Gollancz, £16.99, hrdbk, 507pp, ISBN 978-0-575-13401-0
In the city of Glimshard, Tralane Huntingore is trying to hold onto her social status, while the city is at war with a species called the Karoo over an excavated discovery that might have implications. One of the Karoo has arrived in the city to see the Empress. Meanwhile Tarlane’s daughter are beginning to get involved in different manipulations.
Sometimes you come across a book that you want to like more then you actually do. The characters are interesting and the world of the city has lots of little avenues that sound as if they will be fun to explore. It follows the blend of magic and science that is becoming common in world-building these days.
However the first half feels as if all the most interesting and dramatic material is happening off stage. There is no sense of tension. It just feels as the world building is being extended a lot of the time until the half-way point.
At the point, the narrative does start gathering speed. The difficulty with the wait, is that now you become worried that the story will actually have an ending and not just be part one. When the ending does arrive, it just feels rushed as if the allocated page numbers were running out.
This narrative does have a lot of potential. The writing is sensual and stylish and the set up is interesting. It is just difficult to actually engage with what is happening: the balance of ideas to plot is unbalanced and the pacing is erratic. The world building takes place at the expense of the narrative and it doesn’t seem sure about what kind of story it is telling. You appreciate the craftsmanship and skill but it’s hard – at least was for me – to enjoy.
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