For a debut, this is a pretty epic offering from new author Tom Toner and its quite daunting to write a review to try and explain a book like this... but I’ll give it my best shot!
In a far off future, mankind has spread across the galaxy and has diversified into a number of new forms. There are a whole new range of people and creatures in the universe, a select few of those are even immortal. With complex hierarchies across species and planets, there are rumours of a bid to overthrow the current emperor and a series of events are set in motion that will have rippling effects across the entire galaxy.
Now I’ll be honest here, it took me a lot of concentration to keep up with everything that happens in the story; all the characters and their attributes, history and goals, and also different times and locations across not only Earth but whole new planetary systems!
I do find that when you are introduced to a whole new world with its own language and landscape, it can take a while as a reader to completely get the hang of things. For me personally, there was sometimes too much information to take on board so I did find some parts a little confusing, but the world building in this novel is off the charts in terms of detail, originality and imagination.
Tom Toner is a Fine Arts graduate and that clear passion for art shines through in some gorgeously written prose which is wonderfully descriptive and bursting with colour; an aspect of the story I very much enjoyed and appreciated as an aid to imagine such an elaborate universe. Another element that I liked about the story was that with some many battles for immortality and power ensuing, lots of characters are keeping secrets. Those betrayals and secrets added a lot of excitement to the tale and I'm sure there will be more things to be uncovered later on!
This is a big book filled with many interlinking stories. You find out snippets about the history of humanity when they left Earth but there are also so many questions and gaps in knowledge of what really happened to make mankind leave that I can’t wait to learn more about in future books.
My favourite character from the novel is a beautiful being named Lycaste who is kind of socially awkward, despite possessing such fame from his looks, and he is forced into circumstances which really push the character out of his comfort zone. You learn a lot about him throughout the book and I hope there is more to come from him in the future as I find him quite intriguing!
With echoes of David Mitchell, this book is an epic feat of sci-fi storytelling, especially for a first novel. A complex space opera with fantasy elements filled with drama and adventure; this is an ambitious book that is sure to impress sci-fi readers that are willing to commit the time and concentration to really appreciate the story that is unfolding.
I think that this is the kind of story that would be great with accompanying map illustrations and character cast lists so you have a point of reference throughout the story (and also because I’m a sucker for a pretty book map!) This is an extraordinary start to what I predict will be a successful series and Tom Toner is definitely a talented writer to watch out for.