In the outer rim of the universe, a war is waging. A group of world-ships known as the Legion travel the stars, slowly decaying and dying, while each lord of the ship fights with others, scavenging for scraps to save their own worlds.
Zan awakes with no memory, but is told by her sister, Jayd, that only she can save them. Only she can enter the world-ship known as the Mokshi and lead them all to salvation. But Zan has no choice in the matter, is a prisoner among those who call themselves her people. Is Jayd really her sister? Zan begins a journey to recover her memory, a task that takes her to the very centre of the world she is trying to save. Along the way she meets an oddball group who help her on her way, and she struggles to decide whether the person she was is someone she wishes to become again.
Man, this is ambitious. I don’t read a huge amount of sci-fi but this isn’t like anything I’ve read before. Hurley’s imagination is off the charts, and the world building alone is impressive. Creating an organic ship that relies on its people to birth what it needs… And how refreshing is it to read something with no men in it? Not even a mention! They don’t exist here. And I didn’t miss them once.
However, I did struggle with this at times. It’s so alien to me that trying to figure out how the world worked, and how time worked, took me out of the story. It’s incredibly original but that originality sometimes harms it, I think. There’s so much to explain that can’t be explained quickly or without an info dump/exposition, and so I had to blindly follow hoping it would be worth it in the conclusion, and it ultimately wasn’t. There’s a reveal of a significant betrayal towards the end that I think is supposed to be shattering, for Zan and the reader, but it didn’t make a dent on me because I couldn’t tell at the time that it was supposed to be significant. Zan and Jayd have gone back and forth and done this dance almost a hundred times, apparently, and so trying to figure out their narrative is hard. I wasn’t sold on their relationship, and I think that’s what the book is supposed to hang on. What they have done to each other and sacrificed for each other in order to save the world. It should be epic and heartbreaking and it isn’t.
It also starts to drag a bit once Zan is recycled. She has to make her way from the bowels of the ship back up top, collecting misfits along the way who help her, but it feels like a long, drawn out side quest where the real goal is put on hold. There’s just another obstacle to overcome and another rampaging horde of mutants to survive. And not once did I feel like Zan was in any danger of not making it.
I’m a little disappointed but will still be reading more of Hurley’s work.