I read this back in August and realized while making my “best books of 2022” post, that I never wrote the review for this! Goodness, me. What an oversight! At the time, I had only read one book by this author before, Children of Time, and LOVED it. It was very plot centered and not so much character based. There were huge time scales and characters were there and gone, and I felt like with this one that ratio came closer to equal which really kicked things up a notch for me. I really liked these characters and it sucked me in real hard, lol.
I went into this hoping for an epic story like Children of Time, and the opening scene promised just that kind of story. I was stoked. In this world, the Architects are the big, bad, unknowable aliens. These enormous, moon-sized aliens come to your planet, hover there for a second so you know your doom, and then destroy your planet utterly and entirely. As a result, humanity and a a handful of other alien species are now homeless and wandering the galaxy with what’s left of their species in ships and trying to colonize planets. Why they are called Architects and not Reavers, Reapers, Destroyers, etc., is based around how they go about their destruction. They don’t destroy Earth by blowing it up, or lasering it, or using some kind of bio-weapons….no. Using the planet’s molten metal core they turn the whole planet inside out into something resembling an enormous metal flower, killing 10 billion in the process. Each time they pick a planet to form into something new it’s always an inhabited planet and no one is sure why, it’s the only thing all the planets have in common and hint at motivation behind these unknowable beings.
There are a few POV characters, but I would say Solace and Idris were the two main characters with a couple side POVs. Solace is a bio engineered woman from a race of women who get grown in vats according to a strict genetic makeup. They were once thought of as the sword and shield of humanity, those who were engineered to be perfect soldiers that were used to combat the Architects… but over the years they’ve lose their shine to humanity and become more of a source of bitterness. Both regular humans and the female warrior race, the Partheni, distrust one another and are expecting the other side to eventually declare war. She was a really neat character capable of a lot of introspection and self-challenging her own morals and ideals with the realities she’s faced with. Not many people do that, most will double down on their core beliefs instead of altering them, even when faced directly with reality telling them it’s not so. Despite being a warrior, genetically designed to be as close to perfect as possible, and growing up and being indoctrinated into believing she and her sisters are superior, she was still relatable and vulnerable and I found that a deeply engaging personality type.
The other MC is named Idris and he’s just as fascinating. I had no qualms switching back and forth between these two characters. Idris is an INT (I audiobooked forgive my spellings please). An INT is a very special human who has a unique connection to what is known as Ung Space (again, audiobooked). Ung space is what you need to travel through to get to planets without spending generations doing it. The issue is Ung Space is FUCKED UP. It drives most people to utter insanity. There’s an entity that every single species feels. Every single person who is conscious, including INTs, when they go into Ung space they get this feeling of otherness watching them, hating them, wanting their deaths. Well, these INTs not only can navigate Ung Space, but they can telepathically make connection with the Architects, and 50 years ago it was Idris and his fellow INTs that touched the minds of the Architects, let them know they are thinking, feeling beings, and drove them away.
Well. Idris and his crew stumble upon a brand new ship that’s been warped in the same horrifically beautiful way the Architect’s used to warp planets and ships alike. And now everyone is in a full bore panic mode.
This had me absolutely sucked in from the first couple chapters I plowed my way through it in a day or so, IIRC. I did feel like I got a little plot whiplash around 60-70% through the book with a twist, followed by another twist, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about all that. HOWEVER, it only dampened things a little bit for me and then I was right back into the storyline.
I’m currently reading book two (which is a super rare event for me, I almost never go past book 1 in a series) and I’m loving it. I will absolutely read book 3 and I’m so stoked for its release, omg. As a side note, one of the highlights for me in this book is how alien the aliens are, they aren’t all humanoids with slight variations, there are a bunch of body plans and cultures. One of the hive-mind bug people honestly was a little humanistic in her personality, but I loved the lighter humorous ‘side kick’ characters. She’s an academic at heart and does things in the name of science that can be insane, and I just love it.
- Plot: 13/15
- Characters: 13/15
- World Building: 13/15
- Writing: 13/15
- Pacing: 12/15
- Originality: 13/15
- Enjoyment: 9/10
Final Score: 86/100 5 stars!!!