Alastair Reynolds is probably best known for his Revelation Space sequence of books, which is how I came across him (fun fact – Revelation Space is the first thing I ever bought from Amazon). If you like hard science fiction, then these books are a must and once I’d read them, I devoured everything else he’d written. Favourites include Pushing Ice, Terminal World and Chasm City. I didn’t care for Blue Remembered Earth as I found it really slow. I only mention this so you can compare with your own tastes to see if this book is for you.
So, to Revenger. It’s the distant future and some unknown cataclysm has destroyed most of the solar system. Over time, new societies emerge from the rubble, living on the hundreds of worlds that now make up our solar system. There are also hidden worlds called Baubles that open randomly, often revealing riches within.
People make a living scavenging from these baubles and the story starts with two sisters joining a crew to go and do just that. The world building here is as dense as you’d expect with Reynolds, but its never impenetrable. I enjoyed the first half of the book a lot, and it rattles along at a fair old pace with great characters and enough threads of mystery to keep pulling you through.
After an event that I won’t spoil here, we start on the path of revenge. The book is still fun, but the pace definitely dips in this middle third and I felt there was a lot of repetition here. The heroine, Fura, becomes a little less likeable, a little more annoying.
However, things pick back up for the last 100 or so pages, especially with the introduction of Ghostie weapons and armour. These are such a cool concept and I’d love to see them realised on the big screen (or small). Again, no spoliers!
There are two sequels to this, but this story is contained enough that I don’t really feel the need to read them. Normally, I’d consider that a problem as if you’re writing a trilogy then the hooks should make you rush out to buy the next volume. For this though, it’s nice to have the story done – a rarity in these days of franchises. Also, the ending was strong enough that I will check out the sequel at some point.
On balance, I would recommend this book. If you are already a fan of Reynolds, you won’t be disappointed. If you ‘ve never read anything of his, this wouldn’t be a bad place to start, but you might come away wondering what all the fuss is about. Go read Chasm City instead.
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