Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Today I am excited to join the Ultimate Blog Tour for Adrian Tchaikovsky’s latest Sci-Fi epic: Shards of Earth, organised by The Write Reads. This is the first book I have read by Adrian Tchaikovsky and I have been meaning to read his books so I was very grateful to be a part of this tour. Thank you to Tor Publishing, Black Crow PR and Dave from the Write Reads for organising a digital ARC of the book for me in exchange for an honest review!

Book Information

Publisher: Tor
Length: 592 Pages
Publishing: 27th May 2021

Book Description

This high-stakes space-based adventure will be perfect for those who loved Children of Time, also by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . .

Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade his mind in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.

Eighty years ago, Earth was destroyed by an alien enemy. Many escaped, but millions more died. So mankind created enhanced humans such as Idris – who could communicate mind-to-mind with our aggressors. Then these ‘Architects’ simply disappeared and Idris and his kind became obsolete.

Now, Idris and his crew have something strange, abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects – but are they really returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy as they search for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, and many would kill to obtain it.

Praise for Adrian Tchaikovsky:

‘Brilliant science fiction’ – James McAvoy on Children of Time

‘Full of sparkling, speculative invention’ – Stephen Baxter on The Doors of Eden

Shards of Earth is the first thrilling instalment in the Final Architecture trilogy – by the Arthur C. Clarke award-winning novelist Adrian Tchaikovsky.

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My Review

This is the first book I have read by Adrian Tchaikovsky and it certainly lived up to the hype! Shards of Earth is book one in a new trilogy, The Final Architecture.

The universe described within this unputdownable space opera is expansive to say the least and contains many disparate alien worlds and intriguing species, multiple political factions and some surviving humans – Earth was destroyed eighty years before the start of the story. I really enjoyed getting to know all of the thoroughly imaginative alien species described.

At the beginning of the book, war has been raging throughout the universe, between the Architects, a race of vast crystalline, moon-sized, godlike beings who appear from nowhere, make delicate sculptures and artworks out of both planets and spacecraft, killing all lifeforms in the process, and then disappear again, off to devastate and beautify another ugly (to their refined sensibilities) planet elsewhere in the universe.

Certain humans have had their brains surgically enhanced in such a way that they can navigate through “unspace” while travelling faster than the speed of light, while their fellow crew members are in sleep stasis. These humans are known as “Intermediaries” or Ints, and it turns out they are able to make contact with the Architects’ brains. Idris Telemmier, an Int, was the first to make contact with an Architect’s brain and made it take notice of him to such an extent that the war ended, with the Architects withdrawing and not reappearing for forty years.

Idris is one of the main characters of the novel and is considered a war hero. It is now forty years later and somehow he has survived without ever sleeping or aging during the intervening years. He is now part of a salvage crew working out of the Vulture God vessel. These crew members have become his ‘found family’ and it is heartwarming to see how they all care and look out for each other. 

During the war, Idris became close with Solace, a Partheni warrior who is one of the other main characters of the novel. Solace is a member of the Parthenon – all female genetically engineered elite warriors with wings, who are referred to as “Angels of Infinite Fortitude”, but who another character fondly refers to as “Angels of Punching You in the Face”. The Parthenon was created as a protective force of warriors a dozen years after Earth was destroyed by an Architect. Solace is a really badass character, yet also vulnerable. She has feelings for Idris and doesn’t really understand them. She struggles with divided loyalties between her feelings for Idris and her duties as a soldier. She was one of my favourite characters in the book. 

Another favourite was Kittering, the Hannilambra, a race of extremely competitive, crablike creatures who are often covered in jewel encrusted carapaces. Kit however, as a factor (Accountant), is the crew member who negotiates all contracts and has communication screens set into his shell and limbs. When not using these screens for communication purposes he rents them out to the highest bidder for advertising space. 

Ollian ‘Olli’ Timo is the remote drone specialist, who is a female human, but born without fully functioning arms and legs, so she resides within a metal Scorpion frame armed with numerous weapons. 

Medvig is a Hiver, a group of insectoids working together within a larger framework with a humanoid mask for a face. Their role on the Vulture God is as a search and catalogue specialist.

Kris is a human lawyer retained by Idris and the final crewmember is Rollo Rostand, who is the human captain of the Vulture God and father figure to its crew.

When a Sci-Fi author is introducing their readers to a new world there is bound to be a lot of background information and world-building and at times I felt overwhelmed by all the information being conveyed, but it was often broken into smallish chunks with plenty of thrilling action sequences interspersed. There are a large number of political players in this universe to get to grips with: The Council of Human Interests – referred to as Hugh; The Parthenon, female genetically engineered warriors with their own government; The Essiel Hegemony, an alien revering religious cult; Nativists, who are against the existence of any ‘non natural born’ humans; Colonial Loyalists and Broken Harvest – a violent crime syndicate run by the clamlike gangster Essiel, known as ’The Unspeakable Aklu, the Razor and the Hook’. They are gradually introduced so as not to be too overwhelming, but it is still quite a lot to keep in mind.

The story is very original and imaginative and full of lots of exciting edge-of-the-seat action sequences and equally full of heartwarming human emotion and relationships. I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to revisiting this universe and continuing reading the trilogy whenever the next installment comes out.

About the Author 

Adrian Tchaikovsky is the author of the acclaimed Shadows of the Apt fantasy series, from the first volume, Empire In Black and Gold in 2008 to the final book, Seal of the Worm, in 2014, with a new series and a standalone science fiction novel scheduled for 2015. He has been nominated for the David Gemmell Legend Award and a British Fantasy Society Award. In civilian life he is a lawyer, gamer and amateur entomologist.

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5 thoughts on “Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

  1. Pingback: End of the 2021 update – reading and writing | Sue's Musings

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