It’s time for a little….wait for it… space operaaaaa!
Alastair Reynold’s’ Revenger tells the story of two sheltered sisters, Adrana and Arafura (love those names), who find work as Bone Readers on a space ship that sails between worlds, looking for treasure in ‘baubles’ left behind by older civilisations. It’s their chance for adventure and to earn enough money to restore their rather hapless father’s fortunes. But the sisters get more than what they bargain for when their ship is attacked by Bosa Sennen, a legendary pirate notorious for her cruelty.
This book had me hooked from the start. I love Reynolds’ world-building about a world where spaceships sail between space stations – yes, sail, they even have sails and rigging to catch photon winds – and the mysterious baubles whose shields might close at any time, trapping anyone who’s still in them for what may be years at a time. It’s sort of Victorian steampunk, only it’s Victorian space opera, with the sisters starting off wearing long gowns and prim lady boots and having a sort of nanny robot and everyone using words like ‘cove’ to describe random folks.
And like Victorian space opera, the book itself is a mix between prim and proper niceties and wowsomereallyhardassbrutalscenes. (My favourite is the exploding harpoon). Everything starts off real nice and sweet and everyone – or mostly everyone – seem pretty friendly and nice – and then wham! The butchering begins and my jaw just kind of falls open and never shuts again. And then it becomes a proper Game of Thrones scene where no character is safe from being killed off.
Revenger is another one of those books that steals time away from my days, flipping pages and ignoring all the other more important stuff I really should be doing. I loved following Arafura’s personal journey as she changes from prim and proper young lady to hardened woman bent on revenge. Though Reynolds ends the book on a pretty solid note, I’d love to find out more about the world the sisters inhabit as well as the sisters themselves, and I definitely can’t wait to get my hand on more books by Alastair Reynolds. A proper ten out of ten for me for this one.