Review: Empire in Black and Gold, Adrian Tchaikovsky

Rating: 3 out of 5

This is the second time I’ve read this book. Last time round this was the only volume I read in the series; this time round I’ve been pleased enough to continue with the saga. However, this doesn’t mean I’ve upgraded my thinking about the characters or content that much: I still find Mr Tchaikovsky’s style overbearing while enough of the characters are too innocent (though they have a reason to be so).

However, the premise of the series and world-creation is what piqued my interest more this time round. In this world, humans have taken on abilities and properties from insects based on who helped them survive when the world was younger (and tougher). This manifests itself in different races, who are suitable for different activities: for example, the Moths can see well in dark while the Beetles are sturdy and innovative.

I believe I found this too weird last time round, but some innovative world-building is only for the better. Hence, I’ve decided to carry on with the series and see where it takes me. The other problem that strikes immediately upon starting this book is that most of the characters are incredibly young college students who have been suborned into a spy-ring. It doesn’t take much to guess how poorly this is likely to go…

Mr Tchaikovsky’s language is, however, a very clear downside to the book. His recent works have been much better, but in this it feels as if he’s purposefully trying too hard: e.g., ‘dreams beautiful’ instead of ‘beautiful dreams’ which does sound a touch more poetic but also very stupid. Likewise, I don’t think the author spent figuring out a name for the in-universe historic period, ‘the Bad Old Times’.

However, let’s see where the series goes. This is clearly only an introduction into what’s going to be taking place, and it serves that purpose well.

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