Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Terra Ignota #2
Publisher: Tor Books (March 7, 2017)
Length: 400 pages
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Too Like The Lightning was an ambitious, complex, thought-provoking work of science fiction, one which challenged a reader to brave its intricate futuristic world and rewarded those who did. Ada Palmer’s writing a return to the beautiful, ornate styles of the past; her measured words and nuance meanings contributing mightily to the powerful nature of the book. And Seven Surrenders is on par with its predecessor in every way, continuing the masterful breath of fresh air which this author has injected into the science fiction genre.
Continuing on with a large cast of characters led by Mycroft Canner, there is a plethora of interconnecting events transpiring everywhere in this 25th Century world. Revelations are made. Conspiracies are uncovered. Motives explained. The structures of power shaken to their foundations. The seemingly utopia society presented in Too Like The Lightning beginning to crumble and disintegrate under careful inspection. War looming eerily and horribly in the background of this peaceful place. All the plots within plots within plots too complicated, too heady for a simple description to capture. Suffice it to say Ada Palmer juggles numerous plots here without allowing any of them to fall to the ground, delivering a narrative a reader will become fully immersed in for hours, days and weeks.
What continues to set the Terra Ignota series above other current science fiction is the stimulating exploration of religion, politics, gender, and the continued evolution of humanity. All of it played out against the backdrop of a culture strange yet familiar, modern yet so very human. This future humanity still bound to the earth alone; people still divided by politics; resources still needed to drive the engines of consumption; religion still playing a significant role in people’s private life; and gender issues still a thorny one worthy of change. The author’s exploration fascinating, provocative, and frustrating in measured doses.
Prospective readers be warned though that this is a demanding series; the layered plot and slow reveals requiring dedication and determination. The philosophical discussions of its cast enlightening yet requiring outside thought to fully grasp, as Ada Palmer demands that her readers engage themselves in the discussions, open their minds to new, unfamiliar concepts, and meditate on the meanings. Many elements of the story not fully understood until later when your mind finally unwraps all the folded layers and rejoices in that stunning beauty of pure epiphany.
Seven Surrenders is everything I expected from Ada Palmer when I opened this novel: stunning prose, vivid setting, prophetic philosophy, political pensées, and fascinating characters. Where Too Like the Lightning was an unlooked-for revelation; Seven Surrenders was a much anticipated return, one which met my expectations and heightened my desire for the next book in the series. Certainly, it isn’t for everyone, but for those searching for a serious work of science fiction, Terra Ignota is the series to try.
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.