My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Moon does not know what he is, losing his family at an early age he has spent his whole life hiding what he is from the tribes that he tries to live with. And what he is is a shifter who can swtich between a human groundling form and a being with wings who can fly. As he is yet again cast about by another tribe who find out what he is he discovers another like him. This stranger leads him back to a colony of his people. A place where his very presence causes ripples amoungst the established order of things and a place that is under threat from a race called the Fell. A species that are greatly feared by everyone.
I loved this book so much so that I found it really hard to put it down. I was wishing for a longer tube journey to work and my husband grumped at me when I wanted to just loose myself in the world and finish the story. And what a world it is.
It was great to read a book where the main character and his people (The Raksura) aren’t human. Their whole social structure is completly different to ours. They are split into two parts the Aeriat who can shift into a winged form and the Arbora who can’t. And then they split even further into castes such as Teacher, Hunter, Mentors, Warriors, Consorts, Queens etc. Really interesting and well thought out. And even the Humans aren’t really human as groups of humans massivly diversify some having golden skin, others green, some tusks etc etc. I saw briefly in another review someone mention The Dying Earth by Jack Vance and while the story writing is a very different feel I think they were more refering to the worlds back drop of a fractured broken world and the people being very different depending on where you went. This makes it all wonderfully unique.
The whole story is told from Moon’s perspective and you can see that he would be one of those characters who is classed as ‘dark & brooding’, but there are reasons he acts the way he does, good reasons. Having him as an outcaste who is brought into the society is obviously a good way to introduce the reader to how things work and it works really well. It was great seeming him develop and even recognise the times when he was being stupid and even though he finds it hard to trust realise that perhaps he should take a chance. There were quite a few times when I wished I could just give Moon a hug (he really needs it at certain).
There’s also quite a nice bit of role reversal going on here. As strong and tough as Moon is its actually the Queens who are the better fighters. Moon is quick but not nearly as dangerous. Its actualy him that needs saving on several occasions. He’s also actually at the heart of it all quite a bit of a softy and while he’s perfectly capable of looking after himself its really nice to see a male character filling what is sometimes the stereotypical ‘female’ role of needing someone to take care of them.
I’d probably class this as high fantasy – which I will confess I often find a little bit boring as the characters are never in any real danger. (Something often saves them at the last minute etc) I like my dark fantasy (Martin, Abercrombie, Lynch) and the overall story to this book is pretty straight forward and not exactly new – a dark evil force that want to take over/destroy everything and Moon and his people have to find a way to save themselves. But this is a well written book and I think the setting itself is enough to give it that little added something. As a character I really like Moon and I am curious to see how he finds his place with his people. I was captivated from the start and literally devoured the book in a few days. Its a book I would re-read at some point.
This is the first book I’ve read by Martha Wells but I’m definetly looking forward to the second book in the series (which having just looked things up is out). Thats going on my to read list then.