Revenger – Alastair Reynolds

“Adrana had always hated Doctor Morcenx.”

Arafura Ness doesn’t mean to go on an adventure. No, it’s her older sister with the thirst for experience beyond their cosy little planet, and escape from the somewhat stifling atmosphere at home. But it only takes one step, and then another, before a far greater and more dangerous adventure than either could have anticipated finds them both.

It’s been far too long since I read any of Alastair Reynolds’ books, and to begin with this threw me just a little by being skewed more towards a younger audience, perhaps – just something that shows up in the pacing, I think, as otherwise the richness of the world building here could have pushed this into a vast trilogy. Pros and cons to that, as it makes for a tighter story but also leaves me wanting to know so much more about the history – and future!

Revenger seems set in our own very distant future, with talk of ‘the Old Sun’ but also 50 million worlds (man/alien made?) between it and ‘the big swirly’ (which I take to be the Milky Way). Multiple alien visitations, or occupations, have swept across the system, most pushed into near-forgotten distant pasts. At some point, many of the worlds have been enclosed in protective spheres or ‘baubles’, and much of the storyline occurs on ships designed to scavenge ancient tech and trinkets from planets during the short windows the bauble-shields come down.

One kind of alien ‘tech’ these ships use is beyond-ancient alien skulls, long dead but still capable of making connections to other such skulls. The skill it takes to be a ‘bone reader’ is rare and limited to the young, giving the Ness sisters an ‘in’ to get hired aboard a ship. But of course, their plan to work for 6 months to make enough money to pay off their father’s debt isn’t going to go quite to plan…!

My only complaint about the book would possibly be that there is so much crammed in here. Everything slots into place, but it’s a bit dizzying going from scavenging to family woes to robots to financial crashes! But, I think I’ll use the word ‘rich’ to describe this action-packed story! And dark: for a think-it-might-be-YA, there is a great deal of blood and torture.

Overall, there are an abundance of wonderful ideas backing up a really great story. There’s easily a series in here, picking up threads from the backdrop and giving us more glimpses into the world(s) of Fura Ness. Recommended.

NetGalley eARC: ~432 pages / 25 chapters
First published: 15th September 2016
Series: none (yet?!)
Read from 18th July – 25th August 2016

My rating: 9/10

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