So yeah, I started this one after playing a ton of spikeball with the boys down by the lake. I won most of the games, no big deal or anything. I did crush a pack of mango white claws and reading after that was a bad idea, bros. You need all your mental faculties operating at full tilt for this one. I was trying to wrap my brain around this elaborate universe and my mind pretty much imploded. I had the thousand-mile stare and drool dripping off my lips. Normally, I operate pretty decently half cut, so I’m going to blame this one on the sun. So my pro tip is, no booze, no sun, just hunker down in a quiet hole because you’re not getting spoon fed an easy story here. This universe is slammed into your face right from the get go.
Anyways, humankind is scattered across the stars after this race called the Architects come out of the blue and turn Earth into a shotgunned beer can. These Architects are moon-sized beings that pop up and turn inhabited worlds into works of art. They are completely unstoppable and unaware of human presence. It’s like gnats versus an elephant, or you versus me in spikeball, no chance in hell bro.
But yeah, a couple decades into this one-sided war, these dudes called Intermediaries are bio-engineered. Their brains have been modified and they can insert themselves into the Architects minds. At the battle of Berlenhof, everyone is getting their asses kicked until these Ints jump into the mind of the Architect. It opens up their weakness and they’re able to destroy the it. The first victory ever and in the decades that follow, the Architects never show back up. Humankind gets back to what they do best, in-fighting and politicking. Really cool guys.
And that’s where this story picks up. This group of genetically modified clone warrior chicks called the Parthenon was once humankind’s warrior creed. Now they’re in a big rift with the Human Council and the two groups are drifting apart. Solace was at Berlenhof and she helped save the Int named Idris who was the one who killed the architect. She’s now tasked with finding Idris and getting him to join the Parthenon. When she connects with Idris they track down a ship that looks like it’s been wrecked by the Architects. Are these bad bros back? We all fucked!
The story really dials up to eleven after this. Solace and Idris and the crew of the Vulture God (a surly captain, a crab accountant, a lawyer who’s handy with a dueling knife, a hive cyborg, and a disformed drone pilot) are caught up right in the middle of it all. They travel in Unspace and via the Throughways to different worlds and end up in trouble at each place. Each time they piss off a new group that ends up trying to hunt them down. On the run from Colonial spies, alien cultists, alien gangsters, human nativists, invincible symbiotic thugs, Parthenon warrior babes, and all the while the threat of the Architects looms in the Unspace. They’re trying to save the universe and shit just got real.
So the first 20% or so is a bit of a grind as you have to piece together the entire universe. It was pretty damn dense as there’s a lot of characters, aliens, worlds, space travel concepts, politics, religions, and fucking so much more. It’s awesome, but it’s a lot. I did find that some of the groups and characters got involved and then disappeared completely. I was a little down about that but I’m guessing they’ll have a much bigger role in the books to follow. What made up for that was the action scenes. They were edge of your fucking seat intense! Big, big fan, dudes. So prepare yourself, take your time, and piece this puzzle together because it’s one wild ass space opera!
Anyways, that’s about all I got. Adios amigos!
Shards of Earth will be published on August 3, 2021 and you can pre-order a copy here. A huge high five to Adrian Tchaikovsky, Orbit Books, and NetGalley for the ARC.