Lords of Uncreation by Adrian Tchaikovsky
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I don't usually read doorstopper-sized books like this one. But I make exceptions for certain authors, and Adrian Tchaikovsky is at the top of that list.
This is the last book in the Final Architecture series, and is a galaxy-spanning adventure with universe-level stakes. This could easily get muddled down in the twists and turns of its plot and the enormous battle scenes, but the author's firm grasp on his characters and relationships turns this into the Last Desperate Stand of the Plucky Heroes. Except that none of the characters really qualify as "plucky"--Idris Telemmier, the Intermediary genetically and surgically modified to transverse the Throughways through unspace and to protect humanity from the moon-sized, world-destroying Architects, is a profoundly damaged person who nevertheless keeps struggling to do the right thing. The other character spotlighted in this book (and a welcome spotlight it is) is Olli from the salvage ship Vulture God, who ends up anchoring nearly the entire plot. Olli is a sarcastic, stubborn badass, and it is just a delight to see her whaling away against the various enemies she has to fight to save the day.
One thing that impressed me with this book is the author's impeccable sense of pace. There is a lot going on here, between the reveals of what is happening with the Architects, what really lies at the heart of unspace, the various competing factions of humanity and aliens, and the final battle where all the Architects are sent to wipe out humanity. Most of the book is one long chase scene where Olli is trying to keep ahead of the Architects while Idris, down at the heart of unspace, is facing the godlike entities that live there and ferreting out their secrets. The story could easily be overwhelmed by all the pow-pow and bang-bang, but the author expertly slows things down for some nice character moments, then takes off again for some breathtaking battle scenes. In that way both the characters and the reader are given some much-needed breathing room before the next crisis.
In short, this is a damn fine book, and it expertly wraps up the story. Don't let the weight and heft of this book (and indeed, all the books in the trilogy) put you off. (I especially appreciated the "Story So Far" sections at the beginning of books #2 and #3 bringing the reader up to speed.) There is also one faction of humanity who believes they are the only ones worthy to be saved from the Architects, and another that realizes they need variation and diversity to survive. This is not an overwhelming subplot, but it's a welcome bit of ethics (and the former faction gets a suitably nasty end). I loved this book.
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