Review | Revenger – Alastair Reynolds

Review | Revenger – Alastair Reynolds

Revenger is a swashbuckling pirate adventure set in space. Fura Ness is on a mission to take on the most feared captain in the galaxy.

Author: Alastair Reynolds | Publisher: Victor Gollancz Ltd | Year: 2016 | Fiction | Paperback

Book A Month 5 of 12 – A single moment of teen rebellion will change the lives of sisters Adrana and Arafura (Fura) Ness forever.

When the pair discover they have a natural gift for ‘bone reading’ Adrana encourages Fura to flee their family home and join her in signing on for an apprenticeship aboard the Monetta’s Mourns. Under Captain Rackamore the pair will develop their skills for reading the ship’s giant skull – a form of communication between ships in deep space – and help the crew to discover hidden treasures.

Fura’s life is soon turned upside down when the ‘Monetta’ is boarded by the notorious and ruthless Bosa Sennen. Her sister is abducted, the crew murdered and ‘Fura is stranded on a ravaged ship. Where many would concede, Fura’s resolve is strengthened and her mind is set on vengeance.

The Power - Naomi Alderman

Book A Month 2018 – Book 4

Naomi Alderman presents a world where women are in the ascendancy as the girls of the world develop ‘The Power’. Suddenly men have reason the be fearful.

Last year I read Alastair Reynolds’ expansive sci-fi epic ‘Pushing Ice’. The 2005 novel, with a unique real world feel, took the adventure further into the future and farther from Earth than I’d ever imagined before. Hoping for much of the same I picked up ‘Revenger’ from the same author. What I discovered was something very different.

I’m not much of a fan of swashbuckling pirate tales, even if they are set in space. For this reason my initial enthusiasm for delving into another Alastair Reynolds sci-fi novel was dampened as I discovered that ‘Revenger’ is exactly that.

Fortunately, I’m also not one to give up on something easily and on this occasion my perseverance was justified.

Reynolds presents a future with an old-world feel. Pirates and cobbled streets. Robots and spaceships with sails. It’s an interesting juxtaposition.

By chapter four I was hooked as the pirate aesthetic relents and an action packed adventure with an unlikely protagonist begins.

Adrana and Arafura are ‘bone readers’. A skill found in the young which deteriorates quickly over a short number of years. Because of this a good reader is a valuable asset. To have two is even better. Using an ancient alien skull, a reader will receive, transmit and intercept messages across deep space that provide intelligence on potential treasure to be found.

Crews seek out their fortune in ‘baubles’. Worlds scattered across the galaxy that contain Quoins (coins) and other curiosities of great value. Baubles are usually impenetrable, but for short windows of time they will soften allowing crews to enter, break into their vaults and reap the rewards. 

Fura Ness is an unassuming girl living in the wake of her far more forthright older sister who has a habit of getting them into trouble. But never before to this extent.

From a naive apprentice bone reader aboard the Monetta’s Mourn, we witness Fura becoming a space-hardened and determined crew-member hell-bent on manipulating whoever necessary in pursuit of the evil Bosa Sennan. Something few live through once and would never wish to repeat. But Fura has a determination unbound. The desire to save her sister transcends any trepidation. 

As serious as all this sounds, there are moments of levity carefully woven into the narrative. ‘Revenger’ isn’t hard reading or even too dark. My ten year old (incredibly fast reading) daughter has worked her way through it twice already. The premise of two sisters desperate to be reunited appeals to her immensely. Perhaps she imagines herself and her own sister in the same situation?

Cleverly there’s more than one twist in the tail. One more obvious than another, but each leaving me looking forward to a proposed sequel in 2019, ‘Shadow Captain’.

My only criticism is that too often the plot fails to surprise. Reveals are easily guessed. But even when this happens the outcome is still enjoyable.  

Whilst ‘Pushing Ice’ is hard science-fiction, and not to the tastes of all. ‘Revenger’, in contrast, is much lighter and easily digestible. It’s testament to Alastair Reynolds’ talent for varying his style whilst holding down a solid narrative and portraying interesting and engaging characters. 

Four out of FiveA well rounded and accessible science-fiction space pirate adventure. Hearty – 4/5

Book A Month

‘Book A Month’ is a challenge of sorts. In 2017 I decided I wanted to read more, my biggest hurdle was making the time. As a husband, and father working a full-time job and running The Unheard Nerd, there aren’t a lot of hours left in the day… except for those hours wasted on the daily commute.

With a potential 40 minutes available to me each weekday, I set myself a challenge. To read the equivalent of at least one book a month. Finding that I was enjoying the escapism afforded on the misery that is London’s public transport at rush hour, I began finding time elsewhere in the day to leaf through a couple of pages. On my lunch break in the park, for half an hour before bed.

Before I knew it I had closed the last page on my twelfth book before the end of August – and with a sense of accomplishment I continued my new habit and totalled sixteen books in the year.

In 2018 my goal remains the same as it was at the start of the previous year. Twelve months, twelve books. And so it continues…

Next month’s book…

The Long Earth

Will Harrison

About the author | Will Harrison

Founder of The Unheard Nerd. A husband and father of two girls, Will is a fan of Nerdcore Hip-Hop, a comics fiend, a podcast host and champion of independent nerd culture. | Follow will on twitter: @TheUnheardNerd

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