It’s taken me twenty years to get around to reading Chocolat by Joanne Harris, and now that I’ve finished it I’m determined not to leave it as long to read the rest of the series.
Yet another fantastic outing for the Trouble Dog and her crew.
Fleet of Knives is the sequel to last year’s Embers of War and follows on from roughly where the last one left off. A year has passed and following a debriefing and some repairs Trouble Dog and her crew are off on a shakedown cruise, ostensibly to make sure everything’s running smoothly but also to give the crew a chance to patch up any psychological wounds they might still be suffering, when they’re called on to rescue some merchants stuck on a derelict generation ship. Meanwhile, the former Butcher of Pelepatarn, Ona Sudak, is facing death by firing squad for her past crimes only to find herself being whisked away to act as the biological controller of the titular fleet of knives, the Marble Armada.
This is an interesting novel, and I think it’s fair to say it’s certainly not your typical fantasy fare. It’s dark, gritty and surprisingly disturbing but for all that I still thoroughly enjoyed reading it, though I’m guessing it might not be to everyone’s taste.
This is a fantastic book. It’s an exhilarating mix of Chinese wuxia action and Japanese folklore, all wrapped up in a tapestry of well-drawn characters and high octane fight sequences. This is what happens when you throw a bunch of carefully selected tropes and motifs into a blender and pour the results onto the page. In a word, delicious.
Before I get into the meat of my review let me get one thing out of the way right now. This book is almost seventy years old, written before we had any real understanding of what Mars was like. We hadn’t even managed to get anything into orbit when this book first came out, so there’s bound to be a bit of a separation between the science and technology we know now and what this book asserts. Got that? Good.
I received a copy of this book ahead of publication as part of Amazon’s Kindle First program for January ’19.
I have to say, I really enjoyed this book. It’s the tale of Sandis, a young woman who has the ability to act as vessel to otherworldly creatures known as numina, and tells of her attempt to escape the slavery she finds herself in as a result of this ‘gift’. Helping her along the way is Rone, a streetwise burglar and thief with a magical secret of his own, while working against her is the summoner Kazen, the man who kept her locked up in his underworld lair. The story gallops along at a fair pace, with very few places for the protagonists to catch their breath, and along with the main plot there are also a few secondary elements woven through the narrative involving Rone’s mother getting locked up for a crime he committed and Sandis’ search for an uncle she never knew she had. There’s a lot going on in those 300 or so pages.