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Empire in Black and Gold (Shadows of the Apt)

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There are several insect groups represented and I hope to see more in forthcoming books. Stenwold is a beetle who is an academic. Tisamon is his Mantis warrior friend. Tynisa is his foster Spider-daughter. Che is his beetle niece. Salma is a flamboyant Dragonfly swordsman. Tothe is a half-breed who is very good at mechanical devices. Achaeos is a Moth-seer and becomes an unwilling participant in their fight. Then there’s the main antagonist, Thalric, a captain of the invading Wasp Empire. These are all great characters and easy to route for. This book feels like the beginning of the big conflict that will probably take place in the next 9 books. It is very fast paced and has multiple settings and plots going on, also changes location quite often, but never really gets into loads of action and large-scale events. Which is fine, as the action that did take place, was what I would critizise most about Tchaikowskys writing. I was listening to it (lovely performance by Ben Allen) and so it took me some time to get into the world, cause it starts in medias res with a lot of names and places which certainly is easier to follow on (e-)paper. But not long and I started to feel for and with the characters. And that's the linchpin for me and Fantasy. When I start rooting for some (or more than some) of the folks I'm reading about, I'm bought. Only the ageing Stenwold Maker – spymaster, artificer and statesman – foresees the threat, as the empires’ armies march ever closer. So it falls upon his shoulders to open the eyes of the cities’ leaders. He sees that war will sweep through their lands, destroying everything in its path. Whilst studying at the University of Reading he managed a role-playing game named Bugworld. The game concerned the story of the insect-people of the Lowlands, threatened by the encroaching Wasp Empire. From this original scenario the entire series of books grew.

These are questions, that might get explained later, but so far it was a bit strange at times and I noticed, that I was never fully immersed, as vast and well-developed this world felt. Tchaikovsky's first Warhammer 40,000 novel Day of Ascension (2022), like his short story "Raised in Darkness" from Inferno! Volume 6 (2021), concerns the insidious Genestealer Cults. I am hooked and I want to see what my favourites are up to, what kind of fate lies in wait for them. What more can I wish for from a good Fantasy read? Tchaikovsky still uses role-playing games to help develop his stories, but now also uses live action role-playing, which assists in describing the numerous action and battle sequences in his books. He is currently involved with the LARP game Empire. [15]


Now the Empire is marching toward the Lowlands and his home city of Collegium lies directly in the path. Clute, John (13 June 2022). "Tchaikovsky, Adrian". In Clute, John; Langford, David (eds.). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (4thed.).

But just know, that there are flying-machines in here, as well as some sorts of early cannons and guns - at least at times. Stenwold, Tynisa, Totho, Tisamon and Achaeos travel towards Asta to try and rescue Cheerwell and Salma while Scuto remains in Helleron. Stenwold does something he has not had the oportunity or courage to do before now, introducing Tynisa to Tisamon. Tisamon, recognizing Tynisa as almost identical to Atryssa, threatens to kill Stenwold unless he explains. Stenwold tells him that Atryssa never betrayed them at Myna, but was discovered by Wasp agents and forced to flee. She gave birth to Tynisa, her and Tisamon's daughter, before dying, entrusting Tynisa to Stenwold. Though she appears full-blood Spider, Tynisa is in fact an unheard-of Spider-Mantis halfbreed. The Lowlands’ city states have lived in peace for decades, hailed as bastions of civilization. Yet that peace is about to end. A distant empire has been conquering neighbours with highly trained soldiers and sophisticated combat techniques. And the city states are its desirable new prize. Summed up, setting is phenomenal. It is extremely unique, while also very easy to follow. I guess with a genius premise like that, it is just very easy as an author, to fill the cultures with depth and make them all differ from each other. Also a difficulty for many first-time authors that Tchaikowsky cleverly avoids here. Second is the technology, which I didn't have a problem with, but that needed some adjustment by myself. In the end, I only viewed it as a nice change of habits, to have some very high level of development in some of these races.

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Feast and Famine (New Con Press, 2013), ISBN 978-1907069543. This collection contains the stories "Feast and Famine", "The Artificial Man", "The Roar of the Crowd", "Good Taste", "The Dissipation Club", "Rapture", "Care", "2144 and All That", "The God Shark" and "The Sun in the Morning". After an attempt on Stenwold's life by thugs hired by the Wasps he decides to send Tynisa and Salma on the airship Sky Without to the industrial city of Helleron to meet with his associates there. Totho also makes an impression on Stenwold and he includes him in the group, but it is only after the attempted assassination that Stenwold agrees to let Cheerwell go as well, taking his place on the airship so his presence will not endanger the young agents. Once aboard the airship and bound for Helleron Tynisa seduces a Wasp captain on the ship, Halrad, to keep him from investigating them too hard. However, the tables turn when Thalric, a Rekef Outlander agent for the Wasp Empire tasked with ending Stenwold's activities, arrives on board looking for him. Once he discovers them the agents are forced to flee the ship, stealing the flier he arrived in and killing some of their pursuers. They crash-land a few miles from Helleron and are forced to complete their journey on foot, arriving later than planned. By this time the man they were meant to meet with, Bolwyn, has been killed by Scyla, a shape-shifting Spider-kinden working with Thalric, and their rendezvous is a trap. Though all four agents escape they become seperated. Totho is rescued by Scuto, a Thorn-bug kinden and Stenwold's head agent in Helleron who controls his own espionage operation within the city. Tynisa flees through the streets, increasingly taken over by her killing instincts, and ends up among a street gang who her take her in as an enforcer. Cheerwell and Salma make their way to one of Cheerwell's relatives within the city, Elias Monger. While staying at his house outside the city Cheerwell encounters a young Moth-kinden man, Achaeos, who was injured in a raid on Monger's mine workings. Rather than turn him in she overcomes his mistrust and tends to his wound. Thalric is a highlight. He’s a good, 3-dimensional, interesting antagonist with more on his mind than hunting and destroying our heroes. He has some nuances and there’s more to him than just being a plot obstacle.

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