Title: Revenger | Series: Standalone | Author: Alastair Reynolds | Publisher: Gollancz | Publication date: September 15th 2016 | Num. Pages: 432 | Genre: Science Fiction, Space opera
4 stars – My first ever Space Opera and it was epic.
Many thanks to Stevie F and Gollancz for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review
The galaxy has seen great empires rise and fall. Planets have shattered and been remade. Amongst the ruins of alien civilisations, building our own from the rubble, humanity still thrives.
And there are vast fortunes to be made, if you know where to find them …
Captain Rackamore and his crew do. It’s their business to find the tiny, enigmatic worlds which have been hidden away, booby-trapped, surrounded with layers of protection – and to crack them open for the ancient relics and barely-remembered technologies inside. But while they ply their risky trade with integrity, not everyone is so scrupulous.
Adrana and Fura Ness are the newest members of Rackamore’s crew, signed on to save their family from bankruptcy. Only Rackamore has enemies, and there might be more waiting for them in space than adventure and fortune: the fabled and feared Bosa Sennen in particular.
Revenger is a science fiction adventure story set in the rubble of our solar system in the dark, distant future – a tale of space pirates, buried treasure and phantom weapons, of unspeakable hazards and single-minded heroism … and of vengeance …
What can I say about Revenger?
It was my first ever Space Opera and it has opened my eyes to a whole new genre.
It was my first ever Space Opera and it has primed my taste-buds for more.
It was my first ever Alastair Reynolds and now I want more.
Revenger itself was amazingly well written. As mentioned above this was my first book from Alastair Reynolds and it was just the kind of book I could get into again and again; the writing style flowed with a shocking ease and the plot line was very Firefly-esque with a hint more action and a smidge more ‘oh-shit’ factor.
Revenger follows the story of Adrana and Arafura Ness – two sisters from Mazarile whose sick father had made some very poor choices in business – as they embark on a journey into space to end all journeys.
It begins with Adrana convincing her younger sister Arafura to escape into Neural Alley for a reading by Madam Granity. There’s aliens, robots and weird looking men with bad attitudes and then there’s Captain Rackamore. Pol Rackamore is the captain of the Monetta’s Mourn – a sunjammer spaceship – and he’s in need of a new Boney on his ship as his current one is getting too old to ‘read the bones’ and I mean that in the literal sense of the word.
Adrana convinces Cap’n Rack to take both her and Arafura on board the Monetta in the position of new Bone Readers (with the aide of Cazaray the current Boney) and that is where the story really begins. We’re introduced to the rest of the crew and the Monetta sails off into the Empty in search of baubles. As they sail towards their first bauble Arafura becomes a lot closer to the rest of the crew while I feel that Adrana is doing her best to stay away from them all even though she’s front and center.
Story progresses and little hints are dropped about Bosa Sennen and Cap’n Rack’s long lost daughter. There’s several shocking deaths, a mad woman, a kidnapping or two and a young girl bent on revenge.
Around the mid way mark Arafura changes, subtly at first and then a lot more drastic and she becomes Just Fura. This is where the story becomes a lot darker and a lot less like Firefly and a lot more like the Firefly from hell; the second half of this book is based around Fura getting Revenger on Bosa Sennen for what she did and the things that Fura puts herself through to get where she needs to be? She started off as a little timid and shy but after the 50% mark she changed completely and became hard and unyielding.
You know how they say that the future is bright? That brightness is swallowed by the Empty and the future is dark and full of terrors (oh yeah I went there) there’s a doctor with a God complex, a father with a total lack of regard for his daughters, a totally bad ass soldier robot with logic barricades and all sorts of other people.
I think I loved the world building the most about Revenger it was such a smooth transition from place to place and from time to time that it was almost seamless; my second favourite thing was the characters – hands down they were some of the best characters I’ve ever read and I’d love to see if AR takes this book any further as it was seemingly left open for another book but we shall see.
The book gave off a distinctly pirate feeling but with the space element it felt more like Firefly than it did Pirates of the Caribbean which as a fan of both was saying something. Pirates sailing the high skies rather than the high seas! Some of the characters left much to be desired – Bosa, Adrana and Dr Moonface I’m looking at y’all – but the likes of Rack, Prozor and Paladin more than made up for them.
The dialogue was great and the story wasn’t overly scientific which sometimes can be an issue for me, I like my books to be a little less science fact and a bit more science fiction but with Revenger, I felt like AR was giving us regular folk an explanation without going overboard on the description.