Revenger by Alastair Reynolds

RevengerRevenger by Alastair Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Revenger is an unusual sci-fi novel and swashbuckling space-pirate thriller. It’s the story of the Ness sisters, Adrana and Arafura, who hire on as crew members aboard Monetta’s Mourn under Captain Rackamore. Six months of space exploration and treasure; then they’ll return home to their father loaded with wealth. Or at least reasonably well compensated. But things do not go as planned. Reynolds writes in more twists than a curly straw and once the crew of the Mourn crack their first bauble – a previously inhabited planet which has sealed itself off from the rest of the universe, preserving any remaining artifacts for intrepid astro-buccaneers – I couldn’t put the book down. Arafura narrates, so we see everything through her lens. Her challenges, fears, and determination. Her growth. Arafura is a radically different person by the end of the novel, and the change is both heartening and intimidating. Reynolds wrote Revenger as a stand-alone novel, but the world of the Congregation is sufficiently detailed to support a whole series – of which I have heard rumours – and I for one would not turn up my nose at more of the adventures of Fura Ness. Plus now I’m fully prepped for the gore. Revenger‘s bloody. There’s fight scenes, traumatic deaths from swords and crossbows and coil guns (because why limit yourself to one era of weaponry?), and discussions of torture. All wrapped in descriptive blood shed, so brace yourself. I’d rank it as worse than a newspaper article, but not as bad as a tabloid.* The other thing that really stood out to me about this book were the women. Everywhere. None of them were sex objects, none of them were mentioned as being attractive. They were just there, doing things and saying stuff. I didn’t do an actual tally, but there may have been equal numbers of male and female characters in this book, with equal importance. It was brilliant. I don’t remember the last time I read a book like that, and that one fact alone makes me want to track down more of Reynold’s books. If he comes out with a sequel to Revenger I will buy the crap out of that book. In hardcover.

*It has been years since I read a tabloid, so my idea of what a tabloid article covering a murder could be completely wrong. I may need to revamp my rating system.

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