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Dragonfly Falling: John C Adams Reviews

Book name: Dragonfly Falling

Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky

Publisher: Tor

Format: ebook, print, audiobook

Genre: Fantasy

Publication Date: 2009

Star Rating: 4/5

There’s always a worry with second books in a series that the plot won’t be intelligible if you haven’t read the series opener. This is especially the case when the writing style involves complex plots intertwining the lives of countless minor characters.

As Dragonfly Falling starts, the Empire’s attack on the city of Tark in the Lowlands is about to begin, but the Ant-kinden who live within its walls are determine to defeat the forces besieging their home.

Radical academic Stenwold Maker has sent two spies, Salma and Totho, to gather intelligence and report back to him. They are captured by the Ant-kinden, however, and fight alongside them against their common enemy, the army of Emperor Alvdan.

Meanwhile, in the city of Collegium, Stenwold faces troubles of his own. Imperial agents including Major Thalric have come to kill him, and the academic council is also flexing its muscles against his radical teachings.

There are numerous other plot strands, including the emperor’s imprisonment of his younger sister and whether he will slaughter her to prevent an alternative royal line emerging which could topple him from the throne.

Each of the groups featured in Dragonfly Falling are based upon insects, including the Bee, Spider, Mantis, Wasp and Dragonfly-kinden. Each group takes on the characteristics of their named insect.

It was a clever notion that reinforced the sense I had reading the novel that in this fictional universe people were regarded as disposable resources in their millions for those in power to send into battle without remembering that they were human.

To counterbalance the dehumanising effect of the leaders’ behaviour, Adrian Tchaikovsky worked hard to introduce a stable core group of characters who were fully developed in their varied personalities.

Dragonfly Falling fitted comfortably within the realm of epic fantasy. It is a very long novel but the action kept going nicely. This was possible because of the sheer volume of characters and the complex action across multiple locations.

As I read on, I became convinced that having large numbers of participants who were largely not fully characterised was a deliberate structural move intended to reflect the group identity of each kinden.

There were so many of them, just like insects and spiders in our own world. Yet each has a personality, hopes and fears and these were developed in a small number of the key characters, such as Thalric, Stenwold, Salma and Totho.

I enjoyed Dragonfly Falling very much and would highly recommend it for crisp action, broad battlefield scenes and complex plot. It wasn’t difficult to follow for a reader who hadn’t read the first book in the ‘Shadows of the Apt’ series, because the action developed from the starting point of this novel and didn’t look back to the series opener.

Thank you for reading my review of Dragonfly Falling by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

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