Book Review: Titanborn by Rhett C. Bruno

titanSci-fi author Rhett C. Bruno impressed me with his debut novel, the space opera The Circuit: Executor Rising and the sequel  Progeny Of Vale, so when he announced a new novel on the way, this time through Random House’s Hydra imprint, I was delighted to nab an ARC.

In the distant future, man has moved to the outer planets after a catastrophic meteor impact on Earth three hundred years previously. Many settled on Titan, with the new atmosphere and conditions gradually changing the settlers over time. Now known as Ringers, they eke out an existence on Titan, treated as second class citizens.

Malcolm Graves is a collector, a bounty hunter of sorts, paid to do the bidding of a large corporation, who finds himself embroiled in a bitter struggle when, while visiting Earth terrorists bomb a commemoration of M-Day,  the day the meteorite struck.

Called back to duty and paired with a strange new partner, Zhaff, he must find answers, but is he ready for the real answers?

Titanborn is fast-paced, giving little time for dallying, save some back story concerning Malcolm’s estranged daughter and as the plot develops, we are given enough insight into his character to take his side, even though he may not be the most appropriate hero, given his past actions.

There’s an interesting dynamic between Zhaff and Malcolm, which although introduced fairly late in the story gives them just enough time together to fall short of being a typical “buddy” relationship, but there is plenty of interaction between them to keep the plot buoyant enough to reach the shocking conclusion.

The back drop is well crafted and believable, with Bruno once again displaying his considerable world building skills, and there are important themes explored throughout, making this not only an entertaining, but thought provoking read. There are noir-ish shades of some of Philip K. Dick’s works which add a lot of atmosphere and mystery, and enough tense action sequences to keep the reader hooked.

Available now

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Book Review: The City Of Woven Streets by Emmi Itaranta

emmiFinnish author Emmi Itaranta’s second novel came across my desk recently, and although I’ve become a little jaded with fantasy offerings of late, the gorgeous cover and interesting premise caught my attention.

The City Of Woven Streets is an elegant fantasy set in an intricately crafted world where dreams are outlawed and those without a craft are considered lessers, and left to fend for themselves. Eliana is a young weaver in the House of Webs, but has a shameful secret – she can dream.  If her secret were to be revealed, she would be banished to the House of the Tainted, a prison from which there would be little chance of return.

When an mysterious woman is discovered with her tongue cut off and Eliana’s name tattooed on her skin, she is taken in by  the House of Webs, and as Eliana tries to unravel the mystery surrounding her arrival, she discovers an invisible network of power behind the city’s facade, as the sea begins to slowly rise around them, threatening to drown the entire city.

Itaranta does a wonderful job of avoiding the usual tropes associated with the genre, keeping proceedings fresh with beautifully descriptive prose and immersive, richly textured landscapes. Her characterisations are detailed enough to engage without feeling too bloated or overdeveloped (a practice which seems to be rife in modern fantasy) and the character of Eliana herself is expertly understated initially, while at the same time, her predicament intrigues us enough to follow through, and observe her development into a much more complex individual as the narrative flows.

The City Of Woven streets is far more a work of literary fiction than just another mass-produced genre piece. There’s no setup to cash in on an epic series, just a single tale told expertly and eloquently, with compelling characters and a unique style, often thought-provoking and more importantly, entertaining.

Out now from Harper Collins