I cannot even begin to explain how much I enjoy the Shadows of the Apt books. Their level of originality and the sheer epic-ness makes for some of the best fantasy entertainment out there (LEC Book Reviews) --Este texto se refiere a la edición kindle_edition .. Adrian Tchaikovsky was born in Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire before heading off to Reading to study psychology and zoology. For reasons unclear even to himself he subsequently ended up in law and has worked as a legal executive in both Reading and Leeds, where he now lives. Married, he is a keen live role-player and occasional amateur actor, has trained in stage-fighting, and keeps no exotic or dangerous pets of any kind, possibly excepting his son. He's the author of the critically acclaimed Shadows of the Apt series, and his standalone novel Children of Time is the winner of the 30th Anniversary Arthur C Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. --Este texto se refiere a la edición kindle_edition .. THE DAYS OF PEACE ARE OVER The city states of the Lowlands have lived in peace and prosperity for decades: bastions of civilization and sophistication. That peace is about to end. In far-off corners, an ancient Empire has been conquering city after city with its highly trained armies and sophisticated warmaking . . . And now it's set its sights on a new prize. Only the ageing Stenwold Maker, spymaster, artificer and statesman, can see the threat. It falls upon his shoulders to open the eyes of his people - as soon a tide will sweep down over the Lowlands and burn away everything in its path. But first he must stop himself from becoming the Empire's latest victim. --Este texto se refiere a la edición kindle_edition .. Empire in Black and Gold is the first novel in Adrian Tchaikovsky's critically acclaimed epic fantasy series, The Shadows of the Apt.The days of peace are over . . .The city states of the Lowlands have lived in peace and prosperity for decades: bastions of civilization and sophistication. That peace is about to end.In far-off corners, an ancient Empire has been conquering city after city with its highly trained armies and sophisticated warmaking . . . And now it's set its sights on a new prize. Only the ageing Stenwold Maker, spymaster, artificer and statesman, can see the threat. It falls upon his shoulders to open the eyes of his people – as soon a tide will sweep down over the Lowlands and burn away everything in its path.But first he must stop himself from becoming the Empire's latest victim.Empire in Black and Gold is followed by the second book in the Shadows of the Apt series, Dragonfly Falling.
Interesting twist puts this series above many others. Now a confirmed Adrian Tchaikovsky cheerleader, and with a gap opening up in my reading diary due to the pandemic, surely an epic saga in itself, I decided to jump into his ten book series, Shadows of the Apt. Punchy, pacey, excellent characterisations playing out over small engagements, large battles on land and in the air, sieges: standard fare well executed. What sets this book apart, and this is true of all of this author's works, is that he takes a professional skill but then uses it to unleash his true talent, that of his imagination; in doing so, an okay work is transformed into a tale superior, brimming with potential and possibilities. An average author could have kept all the protagonist groups standard human; perhaps gone down the photocopied Tolkien route of elves, dwarves, orcs, blah blah blah. Not Mr Tchaikovsky though, for he splits his world population up into sets defined by insectile attributes: beetles, ants, dragonflys, the hated wasps, and more. I look forwards to finding out how this happened - perhaps some genetics experiment influencing a virus run rampant in the distant past - but in using this framework, races now have their own traits based upon their progenitor stamp. Even better, the differences lay the groundwork for a deeper examination perhaps of social intolerance, fear, and discrimination. Throw in a revolution half a millennia ago that toppled the existing order and ushered forth a steampunk world riding vicariously over a previous more mystical path that may not have yet given up the ghost and you have a powerful and exciting first station on a journey that promises to be something extraordinary. My one narrative criticism, as a writer myself, is I am just not sure why a certain set piece near the end takes place as it does. Yes, something needs to be destroyed, but there is a far easier way of doing so that doesn't require a full on assault, as wonderfully rendered as it is, and actually has the benefit of taking out a large group of those seeking to benefit as a result. But hey, each writer tells their own story. One of the benefits of reading an author's corpus backwards, is that you travel the development of their word craft. In this book, it is standard in terms of description, discussion, and consideration, but gives little indication of the brilliant sheen that it will wear a decade or so later, as exemplified in the almost perfection that is Cage of Souls. Highly Recommended. Fleecy Moss, author of the Folio 55 SciFi fantasy series (writing as Nia Sinjorina), End of a Girl, Undon , and 4659 now available on Amazon.
Original and Captivating Epic Fantasy There's taking the classic tropes of epic fantasy and putting a new spin on things, and then there's Empire in Black and Gold. For those that don't know, in Adrian Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt series, humans are divided into a host of different races or "kinden". Each one is linked to a different insect. There are Beetle Kinden, Ant Kinden, Wasp Kinden and more. They each have different physical and mental attributes which link in with the relevant insect, so Beetle Kinden are hard workers; they can fly, but only a little. Ant Kinden are great warriors, particularly as an army, due to their hivemind-like way of fighting. Wasp Kinden are great physical fighters who can fire stinging flames from their hands. If all that weren't different enough, Tchaikovsky has also created a setting which is quite unlike anything else in epic fantasy. This is no medieval analogue; instead, we have an industrial setting, with steampunk-esque machinery and gangsters roaming the city-streets. And to highlight the importance of modern industry in this world, Kinden are either "Apt" or "Inapt". An "Apt" Kinden, such as the Beetles, can understand complex machinery and technology but have no belief in magic or faith. An "Inapt" Kinden, like the Dragonflies, believe in magic first and cannot comprehend even the most basic technological mechanism. All this sounds like a lot, and whether it works depends on the usual staples of any good story: plot and character. The basic plot of Empire in Black and Gold follows the Beetle Kinden Stenwold Maker and his attempts to convince the rulers of his home-city of Collegium that there is a vast and bloodthirsty enemy coming from the North to conquer them: the Wasp Empire. As the novel opens we see Stenwold many years earlier in the city of Myna as it is besieged by the Wasps; we see firsthand the scale of destruction they're willing to impose to get what they want. The narrative then jumps forward to an older Stenwold, now training his own group of wards who will be pulled into the next war with the Wasps. There's no denying Adrian Tchaikovsky has created one of the most original and captivating settings I've ever read in epic fantasy. I wasn't sure about the Insect-Kinden idea going in - so much so that I put off reading the novel for a long time. But it really does work. It makes for a gripping read where everyone has genuinely different abilities, social (and cultural) ideals and varied ways of looking at their world. The Apt and Inapt thing threw me a few times (much moreso than the Insect-Kinden) as I just couldn't quite grasp that anyone would find using something as basic as a lock on a door so baffling. It makes for an interesting idea: a direct antithesis between the old (magic) and the new (technology) but didn't always work. I think it could be something that may become of more importance later in the series. The characters in Empire in Black and Gold are really quite fascinating. Due to the differences between each Kinden, there are relationships and character traits which are very unusual and Tchaikovsky does an admirable job of relating them to the reader. Although Stenwold is very much a central character, his four wards - Cheerwell (Beetle), Tynisa (Spider), Salma (Dragonfly) and Totho (Halfbreed) are the real agents of the plot. Tynisa in particular stands out as a particularly strong character, her plot becoming entangled with Stenwold's in the most surprising way. Salma and Totho get short shrift, with the focus remaining mostly on Stenwold, Cheerwell and Tynisa but they remain interesting enough that I expect some great things in Book 2. The side characters also standout here, with two in particular being elevated to main cast status (no spoilers) and having many of the most memorable scenes. Perhaps the most interesting is the main antagonist who gets a significant chunk of the book to explain his actions within his own POV. He's definitely more anti-hero than villain. The main issue I had beyond some characters being served better than others, was that often Tchaikovsky headjumps within scenes. One moment you're in Stenwold's head, the next in Cheerwell's and it can be a bit jarring. The plot definitely uses many of the classic tropes of epic fantasy (group of adventurers must stop encroaching evil with help of wise old mentor) but it really is just a setting off point. The Shadows of the Apt series looks to be doing what it wants, when it wants. The absolute last thing I can say for Empire in Black and Gold is that it's conformist, because it just isn't. This is original and superior epic fantasy that deserves a wide audience. The action is breathtaking, the story is surprising and there's 9 more books of this to come. I'll be reading Book Two, Dragonfly Falling, as soon as I possibly can. An excellent read.
very good It took me three attempts to get into reading Adrian Tchaikovsky's "Empire in Black and Gold", but once I got stuck in I suddenly found myself reading the book quite avidly, and then going on to the next in the series, and the next, and the next and so on and so on, until I finally reached the end of the series (to date) wishing that I could read the next. Thankfully, I have now received "Heirs of the Blade", which is book 7 in the Shadows of the Apt series and will soon settle down to read that. Why did I give Empire in Black and Gold" 4 stars rather than 5? Not an easy question to answer. I would ideally have given 4 and a half stars, but Amazon doesn't allow for that. I gave the 4 stars mainly because the book seems at times a little unevenly paced and the characters almost bounce along, without really ever being affected by their travails. Stenwold Maker is in some ways the savious of the book, because his character is probably the most believable and one can engage emotionally in his struggles and worries. The other main characters are somewhat less genuine-feeling, albeit still engaging. Tchaikovsky has a vivid imagination and a rich writing style and his "Apt" books are very enjoyable. Not quite a "great" like Tolkein, Jordan or Martin, but nonetheless a very enjoyable and at times enthralling read.
Solid fantasy debut - 3.5 stars This is Adrian Tchaikovsky's first book and it's a solid fantasy novel, perhaps a little overlong. The world Tchaikovsky has created is an intriguing one. There are no humans but there are several races of humanoid creatures, each based on a different insect race. So, you have beetle-kinden: industrious, stocky and adaptable; spider-kinden:, elegant and machiavellian; ant-kinden: able to link minds to fight and work together and so on. There isn't exactly magic in the world but each race has some skills or abilities they can tap into using their Art which seems to be learnt by meditation and training. The races of the world are also divided into the Apt and the non-Apt where the Apt races are able to use and design machines of varying complexities and the non-Apt can't even understand the mechanism of a crossbow. This seems to be balanced by the non-Apt races having stronger and more varied skills which they can access using their Art. It used to be that the non-Apt races such as mantis-kinden, spider-kinden, dragonfly-kinden and moth-kinden used to be the ruling races with the Apt races as slaves, but this changed after the Revolution of the Apt and now there is an uneasy peace between the various races. The various machines used by the Apt races give a strong steampunk feel to the fantasy world. In this post-revolution world a new threat is emerging as the Wasp Empire starts to move against the other races and cities of this world. Initially, it seems that only one man, Stenwold a beetle-kinden recognises this threat and so he and his agents have to try and work against the agents of the Wasp Empire and alert people to their danger. I can't really put my finger on why this book didn't merit a higher rating but it felt like it lacked something so that it was a good read but not a great one. It was a book I found difficult to put down whilst reading but didn't feel in a hurry to pick up again once I'd put it down. I would like to read the sequels (the 6th book has been published and I think another 4 are planned) but again, I don't feel in a hurry about getting to them. The kindle version includes some short stories set in the same world and some drawings of the various races which was a nice addition. All of these are also available on the author's website.
Detailed Characterisation Saves Cheesy 'Animal Powers' Setting. I'm not a fan of serialised novels. So i started reading this already extensive series with a little trepidation. Also its about insect people, which is a little silly but admittedly imaginative so i gave it a go. Now initially the idea of 'wasp people' and 'mantis people' seemed a little like a kids cartoon, sort of Medival Power Rangers or Dark-Age Thundercats. But no sooner had i read about half the first book i'd ordered the next Two books, the actual writing is That Good. My own misconceptions about the setting led me to believe the characters would be a little shallow but theyre not at all. It's to the books credit how much thought has gone into providing the various insect/people/races with varied (very unique) cultures, and from that unique opinions and characters. It's a very well fleshed out world, teaming with exellent characters with interesting backgrounds to flaunt or rebel against. Alligences change and mistakes continue to haunt them, not just through the initial story but subsequent books, whilst the turbulent political machinations keep character motivations not just moving but changing, they make mistakes, double-cross friends and allies and generally make use of the world they exist in. Most notably Thalric secret-wasp-policeman who spends most of the first book being the consumate arch-villan, but by the second and third book developes into a brilliantly tenacious anti-hero. The actual quality of the prose goes a long way to carrying the story across a long series to, light and pacy yet Artful and empathic where required. The books make easy reading, if the first one keeps you entertained the series gets better and better. Even the last two 'Scarab Path' and 'Seawatch' are of the same high standard of entertainment, refreshing the locations and revelling in the setting. If it's the idea of insect people that puts you off the series and nothing else, don't worry it'll be fine you'll be pleasantly suprised. The first book is an excellent stand-alone novel, but if you enjoy the first book the second book is bigger and better, possibly the star of the series.
Something different and wonderful This was totally riveting from the start. I couldn't decide while imagining the story whether to place more or less emphasis on the fact that all participants were likened to insects, e.g. Beetle Kinden, Ant Kinden, Wasp Kinden. Even after finishing I hadn’t actually managed to square that away right, but despite my problems this is a wonderfully written and imagined story. I just can’t imagine how the author can keep this pace over 9 books, but I am willing to find out. Reviews of book two seem to indicate even better work. It’s certainly something different from the usual fantasy backdrop and tale.
OK start, gets better My ranking is more for the series (as much as I've seen so far) as for the first book. It's fast paced, a novel idea, well plotted, well written, and I like the semi-industrial-fantasy setting (as with China Mieville). The first book feels kitsch and stereotyped - characters' traits are mostly typical of their race rather than as individuals - but once you sink into the world a little it's not too bad. By book 3 the inividuals' differences start to come to the fore. I've almost (but not quite) forgotten that the wasps feel like WWII German army stereotypes with many German names, flies' names sound Italian and they don't really do wars, etc.. Presumably in a later book we'll meet some French-sounding insects who eat onions and cheese. :D But all in all I like it.
Good read I enjoyed this novel. The character development is strong as the story unfolds and the spymaster and his small band take on the m mighty wasp empire.
A fantastic series I have just posted a review of the Scarab Path, the 5th book in this series. If you are wondering whether to try the first of this series, and invest in a number of books that come thereafter; hesitant perhaps whether this is a good series - I can only say get that first book - read it and you will be hooked - this is a fantastic series which gets stronger as it progresses. The characters are well fleshed-out, the universe of the series is beautifully presented, the action compelling. Try this series - you will not be disappointed!
The Bee's knees OK, I have just finished The Air Wars which is currently the most recent in the Shadows of the Apt series and cannot wait for the final two! First thing, these books are HUGE and I have ended up sacrificing a great deal of my time just to carry on reading them. The first book Empire of Black and Gold was great however it feels a little daunting when you first start as you don’t really understand what is happening, who the characters are etc. but stick with it as by the first 3rd of the book you feel like you have a better grip on things and they start to make sense. I won’t say what happens in any of them as I don’t want to spoil it but these are a fantastic read. Now I’m stuck with the horrible feeling of moving onto a different series until the next book is published!
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