Fiction Reviews

The Sea Watch

(2011) Adrian Tchaikovsky, Tor, £7.99, pbk, 702pp, ISBN 978-0-330-51146-9


Okay, your starter for ten is to let you know a little bit about the 'Shadows of the Apt' series which concerns the Kinden who are a humanoid race which have some insect characteristics. 'The Apt' part of the title comes from those Kinden who lack any magical powers but can design and use technology; while their counterpart kind, the Inapt (as you might guess from their name) do not use this technology. The novels are divided into 4-book series arcs each covering the same setting and characters, but moving along a new plot change or story line, making The Sea Watch the latest entry in the series the second of the story arcs that started with The Scarab Path.

This is the sixth book of the 'Shadows of the Apt' series following Empire in Black and Gold, Dragonfly Falling, Blood of the Mantis, Salute the Dark and The Scarab Path. Itgives us Stenwold Maker trying to protect his city, Collegium, from the return of the Wasp Empire. But beyond the harbour, ships are vanishing on the high seas, and life is taking some sinister and unexpected twists and turns Stenwold from his love life to those who seem all-too ready to betray him.

Author Tchaikovsky has a background in zoology so is it any surprise that he has created a race of people – the Kinden - which has insect-based powers, although with this book we are about to see a new kind of Kinden – no spoilers here. The plot develops through three distinct parts with the first one being about the disappearing ships, the second part concerns the new Kinden and the third part brings it all together for a typical slam bam finish in Tchaikovsky fashion. If you are new to the series, then this is not a bad place to start, but be warned, these are weighty tomes, although there are maps and glossaries to help the uninitiated. Given the major events of book four then you would be wise to start with the fifth book, The Scarab Path which kicks of this story arc, or go right back to book one. Whatever way you choose you are about to be introduced to one of the best series around in terms of world-building, memorable characters, plotting, and action, particularly the battles. But you better be quick, Tchaikovsky has another book – Heirs of the Blade – due out in October (2011), possibly taking us into new areas of his created world, if I have picked up a few tantalising references to a newly discovered archaeological site right, but then again I may be totally wrong, it won’t be the first time.

Ian Hunter


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