Spoils of War is a Shadows of the Apt companion book consisting of 12 short stories set in the world of the Apt and Inapt around the time of the Twelve Year War. Some of the stories, such as Ironclads, Spoils of War or The Dreams of Avaris have been previously made available to readers on Czajkowski’s blog, others, like The Shadows of Their Lamps or Brass Mantis, are entirely new. Most of the tales take place in Commonweal at the time of the Wasp invasion, but there are also entries from Myna, Helleron and Collegium, before or after that time. And though the stories are very diverse, touching on topics from ingenious technical inventions through mystical hidden treasures, confidence ploys to love and sacrifice, the theme spanning them all is war.
I won’t wax over Shadows of the Apt now, having said enough already here. Let me just one more time emphasize the sheer scope and originality of Czajkowski’s series. I am a devoted fan of the incredible world he created and the complex, living, breathing, and most of all real protagonists populating it. Finishing Sealof the Worm had been a curious experience for me; one of a deep reading satisfaction mixed with more than a tinge of regret. The enormous, extraordinary tale Czajkowski spun through ten hefty books was coming to an end. A very well written, thoroughly considered, well planned and deeply moving end, granted, but still. And so I won’t surprise anyone saying that Spoils of War is a very welcome – if somewhat short – trip back to the world of Apt. I have missed the crazy reality of Insect-kinden, where steampunk clashes with high fantasy in an alternate WWII setting ;).
Adrian Tchaikovsky is one of this blog’s favourite contemporary writers. Ola reviewed significant portion of his published works and all of it was judged worthy of readers’ attention.
But he can be slightly intimidating. Big volumes, often whole series of them… and here is something different:
A quest to kill the Dark Lord, undertaken by a team consisting of a wizard, a warrior, an archer and a thief, led by a Priestess of Light. Many of us participated in such stories thanks to tabletop (or computer) rpgs, but books like that are rarely great. Often tie-ins, most of them are at best decent. I like to read one every now and then, but I don’t find them as good as I did as a teenager.
Children of Time is the first SF novel of Adrian Czajkowski, the author of the acclaimed Shadows of the Apt. In this doorstop of a book (over 600 pages) Czajkowski returns to the world of insects – not just any insects, but spiders in particular. And here’s the first disclaimer: Children of Time is a lot of things: a novel about the human race, evolution, religion, cannibalism, war, and the twisting ways to peace, but one thing it’s not: a book for arachnophobes. The titular children are a species of spiders, and more than half of the novel is devoted solely to them. Czajkowski loves his eight-legged friends dearly and spares us no details of their angular, hairy, multi-eyed bodies. He writes with relish about spiders jumping, hunting, weaving complex webs, eating each other and communicating by movement of their hairy palps and legs. Did I mention hairy?
Fascinated yet? If not, here’s a bit of information: Children of Time had been recently shortlisted for Arthur C. Clarke award.
Making lists is one of the favorite pastimes around the web – and probably not only there. Lists of best books in any given year or month, lists of worst zombie movies ever, etc… It’s as if structuring and prioritizing one’s experience or even group preferences became the best source of available information. Show me your list and I’ll tell you who you really are.
We’ve been mentioning our own lists on the blog at least several times already – the TBR lists, mainly. The problem is, my personal lists are few and far between, and they are not even proper lists with any discernible hierarchy. I have rather sets of items, where each item holds more or less similar position to any other. And even of those I have only two worth mentioning: TBR and TBB.
My traditional Wednesday post is somewhat late, because I was led astray by the charms of country life, mainly by the responsible tasks of growing lettuce, basil and tomatoes. But the second and no less important cause is that I find it very difficult to review a whole ten book series in one post. It simply doesn’t do justice – as it should – to every book.
But enough of justifications, let’s talk about the books. The first installment in the Shadows of the Apt series, Empire in Black and Gold, was Czajkowski’s debut. Actually, the first four books were his debut, as he managed to write them all before any of the books were accepted by Tor. Here was a guy who wrote for his own pleasure, was consistent, imaginative and perseverant. At first the world he created – and populated with insects – might have been seen as a slight disadvantage by any sensible publisher, but soon this very world, unique and fascinating, set Czajkowski’s work apart and made him popular.
Adrian Czajkowski jest autorem dziesięciotomowego cyklu Shadows of the Apt – jednego z najlepszych wieloksięgów w militarnej czy epickiej fantasy ostatnich lat. Nowa książka, mimo że rozgrywająca się w rzeczywistości zupełnie odmiennej od świata Insect-Kinden i utrzymana w wyraźnie innym stylu, trzyma podobny, wysoki poziom i porusza zaskakująco zbliżone problemy.
Główną bohaterką Guns of the Dawn jest Emily Marshwick – szlachcianka z dobrego, choć zubożałego domu. Po samobójczej śmierci ojca Emily wraz ze starszą siostrą Marią zmuszone są do zajęcia się nie tylko swoim młodszym rodzeństwem, ale i całym majątkiem, składającym się głównie z długów nieżyjącego ojca. Mimo przeszkód idzie im to całkiem nieźle, dopóki sąsiednie państwo, Denlandia, nie wymordowuje swej panującej rodziny królewskiej i nie wprowadza ustroju republikańskiego, by potem ruszyć na ojczyznę Emily, Lascanne. W Lascanne nadal panuje monarcha, kuzyn zabitego króla Denlandii, nie dziwi więc, że żądni krwi Denlandczycy na wszelki wypadek chcą się pozbyć i jego. Nie bez znaczenia dla ich eksterminacyjnej determinacji jest też fakt, że tylko królewska krew może ze zwykłego obywatela stworzyć potężnego maga władającego ogniem.