Arafura and Adrana are teenagers who don’t much like their family life and so decide to run away and join a solar light sail powered spaceship, make their fortunes and return to bale out their impoverished father. That’s the idea anyway; of course nothing ever works out quite according to plan.
This is a strange mishmash of a book. It feels, particularly at the outset, as those it is striving for a young adult audience but later loses that early atmosphere, becoming much darker and more adult oriented. I wasn’t too unhappy with that as I don’t generally get on very well with YA style books. The universe manages to be both extremely far future and, at the same time, almost steampunk, not dissimilar to the feel of Chris Wooding’s Ketty Jay books (though with much less humour). It is set in a universe in which the planet or planets orbiting the ‘Old Sun’ (possibly Earth and Sol or possibly somewhere else; it’s neither made clear nor particularly important) have been sundered into hundreds of thousands of small ‘worlds’ where gravity is provided either by spinning them or placing black holes at their centres. All this has been done by a population, human or alien, lost in the mists of time. Subsequently these worlds have gone through waves of occupation by both human or alien civilisations leaving behind caches of their technology scattered throughout the system. The present civilisation, mostly human, live in or on the various worlds raiding the caches for technology that they can use despite having no understanding of how it works. This makes for an interesting and different backdrop where some of the tech is pretty much steampunk and the rest so far advanced to meet Clarke’s definition of magic.
I thoroughly enjoyed the setting, the writing, the characters and the story, the only fly being a slightly uneven feel to the whole book and a bit of predictability about the plot at least on the macro level; the smaller plotting details were much less predictable. Also why do SF authors so often pick a small number of random ‘new’ words for a few things whilst leaving the vast majority unchanged – things like ‘lungstuff’ instead of air? All it seems to achieve from my perspective is a disjointed vocabulary where the unchanged stuff draws attention to the changed and the changed to the unchanged. A long way from being Reynolds best, Revenger is still an enjoyable read and I look forward to the next instalment.
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