Review: Nova War by Gary Gibson (Tor UK)

 

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The cover says it all, ‘Continuing from Stealing Light’ (well it does on the final cover copy), so I’m going to have be careful what I say. About the first book I said,

I have a feeling that Gibson is going to be a quick rising star in sci-fi. He has the level of knowledge and skill to construct a story, he can twists these ideas around a cast of well conceptualised and constructed characters – human and non-human. And anyone who makes me want to find out what happens next is always going to get my vote.

I know what you’re thinking, does he manage it?

We start from almost exactly where the last book finished and Gibson notches up the pressure on Dakota and Corso straight away and in the process we get to meet a new race, the Bandati, who I can only think of as humanoid flies.

As the ending of Stealing Light opens up the possibilities and expands the Universe it’s good to see that Gibson has plan in mind and the two warring factions that make up two Bandati Hives have a vital role in how Nova War plays out. He keeps up the tension by keeping Dakota and Corso apart and in some ways opposing each other when they each end up working with the opposite Hives.

What I did find amazing was the Emissaries, the race that are equal to the Shoal in terms of advancement though they challenging them for control of the Universe.

And it’s this control that the Nova War hinges on and Dakota’s abilities that are central to how events could unfold. But for all this big picture stuff humanity again shows that it is only interested in guarding its own small pieces of power. Though that comes later and in a surprising way.

In fact the whole book is packed with surprises. Take the Trader and the measures which he will take in order to follow the Dreamers, what he does for self-preservation and how far his influence extends is almost religious devotion.

I did have a slight niggle with humanities involvement and their connection to events but this is a continuation of the ideas that came from Stealing Light and that was something that didn’t fit right for me then either. That though could be to do with my own thoughts about what they would or wouldn’t do rather than any real problems with the events themselves.

Dakota has the biggest journey of all, and it’s fascinating how she changes and how Gibson is able to keep it in realms that are understandable and also daring in scope.

If you haven’t read Stealing Light and enjoy science fiction your missing out big time. And Nova War only cements the fact that Gibson has a devious imagination, a sense of bigger picture and a more twists than a corkscrew.

I can’t wait to see what he’s going to do to Dakota next and what he’s going to make her suffer next.

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