Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Book Review: Blood of the Mantis by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Things begin to slow down some in Blood of the Mantis. The third book in the Shadows of the Apt series is the smallest, and yet took the longest for me to read. Adrian Tchaikovsky maintains the same level of writing established in the first two, but seems to be struggling a bit with middle-book syndrome. The events in book 3 are too important to completely leave out of the story, it’s too long to be split between other books, and feels a little wanting after the first two books’ onslaught of awesomeness.

Blood of the Mantis is not a bad book by any stretch of the imagination; it’s just not as good as the first two. It had some seriously high standards to meet after Dragonfly Falling. Dragonfly blew me away and is likely to be a contender for my favorite book this year. I think my perspective might be a little skewed as well. I’ve been reading these one right after the other, so the differences between the two are immediately apparent to me, possibly making my judgment a little unfair. With the previous two so fresh in my mind, I simply can’t help making comparisons.

The plot is a continuation of what is set in motion in the previous books, and Blood of the Mantis doesn’t have an strong subplot of its own. The characters are still hunting the ShadowBox, and Stenwold is still dealing with political intrigue in Collegium and Sarn while trying to rally an increasingly unlikely Lowland alliance. The character development that was so amazing in both the previous books is almost nonexistent here. A few side characters get a little more attention, but nothing develops to the level of the previous books.

Tchaikovsky does take the reader to some new places. We get to see the lands around the Exalsee, and the potpourri of kinden that inhabit that area. I did enjoy the notion that Shadows of the Apt will have a much larger geographical playground. The first two books never talked much about anything beyond the Spiderlands. Blood of the Mantis is the first to take the story into those other foreign lands.

Tchaikovsky has set himself up with a beautiful and amazing world to play in. The variety of races and characters at his disposal is limitless. Blood of the Mantis may be a bit of a stumble in the series, but it’s a very small stumble. I’m very excited for book 4, and I get the feeling my reservations about Blood of the Mantis will be quickly forgotten.


You can also learn more about Adrian Tchaikovsky’s books at the Fantasyliterature Adrian Tchaikovsky page

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