On Dolvia the women of the savannah serve under the burka, but Kyle Le was denied that covering by tribal leaders. Only her gift of second sight and the mortgage on her father's land protects her and her three sisters. Kyle Le meets Brian Miller, a Softcheeks who teaches her about offworld politics and accumulating wealth while she teaches him the words of power from Mekucoo. Working alongside the warrior Cyrus, they labor against the mining enterprise that robs the savannah of it mineral wealth and leaves the tribes with only the scarred and suffering land. ... an intriguing tale. The struggle to overcome oppression, to preserve a way of life, to maintain compassion in a cold and hateful conflict, is always interesting and involving ... Atrium has a flair for creating and maintaining an atmosphere of mysticism and mystery ... she stays true to the situation, never slipping out of the frame she has set. -- Lisa DuMond, online reviewer of science fiction
I was intrigued by the synopsis of this book, and I was excited to read about a different and somewhat primitive culture and the effects of a technological rich human race had on them. The culture and concept was different to your average science-fiction story and I had looked forward to reading about them, unfortunately I was disappointed with the book for a number of reasons.
Firstly there was a lot of culture and world building in this novel, while I do enjoy reading about cultures made up by authors, especially if they are rich as they are in this story. In this case the author took it too far, I felt the heavy emphasis on telling the reader about the world came at the expense to the plot, story and characters.
There is so much culture in the book that it made it hard to follow and with so many unusual concepts in the world I was lost at times. When ideas are revisited they are not usually re-explained making it hard to remember what something was about.
The story jumps around a lot in time, sometimes a short time occurs between one paragraph and the next and sometimes weeks or months have gone by with no real description on what has happened in that time. There were plenty of times where we are not told why something is happening just that it is. This made me feel disconnected to the characters and the story.
The physical descriptions are also lacking, and it was hard to visualize what people and things looked like in the book. There might be a little description when a character first appears but whenever they come back we are not retold what they look like so it was hard to put a face to a name.
There is a large cast of characters in this book. The big problem with this is that characters are referred to by different names depending on who is talking about them and in what context. While this is a nice idea, it did make it really hard to know who a certain character is and how they tie in with the story. There is a glossary at the end of the book which tells you something about each character, but it has its own problems. Firstly characters only appear under one of their names, so if you don’t know their other names you may not be able to find them without looking through the entire glossary to find them. Secondly the glossary contains spoilers, such as who a person will marry later in the book, the children they have and even if they die.
The characters themselves I found to be fairly dull, there was nothing about them that really drew me to them or excited me. The story is told from first person, but the characters rarely reveal their emotions or inner thoughts to the reader making them feel cold and distant.
The first person style writing had problems of its own. There are a few POV characters and the story is always told from first person perspective. The first three parts each follow a different character. When a new part starts we are not given any insight on who the new person is, where they are, and at what time-frame their story is compared to the rest of the story. This confusion could go on for a few chapters before I had all the answers. The forth part of the book was the most confusing in this, as it follows one character, sometimes it seemed like it was following other people but I was never really sure. It wasn’t helped by the weak character voice, making it hard to know who you were reading about.
There are very few action/exciting scenes in the book. Most of the time they are told by characters after they have happened and it loses all of the tension and excitement at that point.
Overall while it is clear the author spent a lot of time developing the culture of their world, it didn’t come across to me very well as the reader. The story suffered as a result of the heavy telling of the culture. The characters seemed dull to me and I had a hard time connecting with them.
In full disclosure I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway.