Review: The Scarab Path, Adrian Tchaikovsky

Rating: 5 out of 5

While the end of the previous book also made it sound like the series was about over, this one nicely expands the world in an unexpected direction. Khanaphes is the new destination, a city modelled on Ancient Egypt which in itself is a rarity in fantasy—and therefore a pleasure to read.

The characters primarily featuring in this—Che and Thalric—have also become my favourite ones over time. Thalric clearly deserves it for his wit and introspection though in this book he’s nearly walking around blind. Meanwhile, Che is too often mired in her own dreams. Indeed, the entire Khanaphes expedition is built on her wishes to find out more about herself—which of course is not a bad goal—and she does learn.

Khanaphes, a style of construction and location, the way they’re steeped in tradition, all reeks of Egypt. The Jamail—their Nile—also has an interesting history that the reader is introduced to in turn. In some ways, this book also touches on geoengineering and environmental troubles: after all, Khanaphes is only a small lush remnant of a once-prosperous domain.

A surprisingly strong instalment overall, given I didn’t originally expect much from this book.

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