This book did a great job with the world-building, but not such a great job with the plot-building. I’m not sure this review can describe what it was about, because I’m not entirely sure I understand what happened. But it sounded very pretty while whatever it was was happening!
Far away in a beryl sky, three suns rushed madly about one another and gave a little heat to this farthest of their six planets.”
We start the book with Jon Toshar, who has just escaped from a prison mine. He’s in one world, but seeing another. Two other prisoners died in the escape, and he’s frantic to find himself lost and on the border of a city long abandoned due to deadly radiation.
The book jumps around to a lot of different characters (some of whom seem to end up being the same character?), and a kingdom in turmoil because of economic woes in the fishing industry. (SO MUCH detail about aquarium farming vs. ‘out on a boat with a net’ fishing.) A revolution is planned, and I liked the revolutionaries who called themselves ‘malis,’ for malcontent: “You don’t like where you’ve been, the place where you are is grim, and the only place you see yourself going is not an improvement on what’s gone before.” And a prince is kidnapped, but then there’s also a war being planned that is separate from the revolution, but nobody’s sure who the war is against because the ‘enemy’ is behind the radiation barrier. And some people seem to have alien voices in their heads telling them what to do.
There were a couple characters that stood out and I wanted to know more about (a teenaged acrobat, a runaway fisherman’s son), but most of my time was spent thinking “wait, what?” Jon is kind of the main character, but he was so inconsistent and all over the place that it was hard to figure out what his function was (turns out because he had an alien in his head). But we don’t know who the aliens are, or why they’re the good guys, and why there’s this galactic fight against the Lord of the Flames, and if that’s a different alien or another one of the head-inhabiting ones, or what.
The book version I have is the whole trilogy in one, but I don’t think I’ll be reading more. I liked some of the writing, but I was just too lost too much of the time.