Join Robert Grant, Literary Editor at SCI-FI-LONDON, as he recaps on all the action so far in Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt series, as we look ahead to publication of book 8, THE AIR WAR, in August. This week it’s book three, BLOOD OF THE MANTIS...
BLOOD OF THE MANTIS finds Che and Nero sailing to the free City of Solarnos to rally them against the Wasp assault. Stenwold travels to Sarn hoping an allegiance between Kinden can defeat the Wasp Empire and save Collegium. But political in-fighting threatens any prospect of a treaty, and the Beetle-made ‘snapbow’ is now known by all kinden, who will not commit resources without it. Meanwhile Archos tracks the Shadow Box to Jerez with plans to capture it before it falls into the hands of the Wasp Emperor and his Mosquito slave, Uctebri.
This book is the calm before the storm, fewer characters and only a couple of very specific developments in the overall story, but you just know that these set-ups will pay dividends later on. Switching seamlessly between misty, damp and often oppressive Jerez, noisy, warm and sunny Solarnos and strangely silent Sarn, the atmosphere changes perceptibly while you read, and though the complex politics of the kinden world drive the story much more than in previous volumes, the action when it starts is as tense, violent and gripping as we've come to expect.
By now you’ll know I love this series and not just for its great story-telling. On the surface it's an epic war story packed with political intrigue, epic battles, alchemy and engineering, but at its heart it's about relationships between friends, lovers, fathers and daughters and it's these personal tales, that keep you hooked. For fans of epic fantasy it’s pretty damned difficult not to find lots to like!