TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING – Ada Palmer (2016)

Too like the lighteningEver since its first book came out in 2016, I’ve been reluctant to start Ada Palmer’s Terra Ignota series – even though it was met with a lot of buzz and praise. Something about it seemed try-hard, and even pretentious. A science fiction novel set in 2454 with 18th century mannerisms made me put up my guard.

Not only those supposed mannerisms made me wary, but also the influence of 18th century thinkers. I don’t know why, but I’ve never been big on Voltaire, Diderot or Rousseau. Not that I want to dismiss the French Enlightenment out of hand, not at all, but I’ve never been drawn to the thinking & writing of that age and place.

It not only seemed pretentious, there really was a certain intellectual huff and puff surrounding this 4-part series. In a 2016 interview on The Qwillery Ada Palmer – history professor by day – voiced a part of her ambition:

Terra Ignota is most directly based on 18th century philosophical novels by figures like Voltaire and Diderot. They wrote speculative fiction too, of a sort, exploring imagined political systems, metaphysics, even aliens in Voltaire’s Micromegas. We’re used to using classic science fiction futures to ask questions about things like technology, heroism, or transhumanism, but I wanted to write one that would ask the kinds of questions 18th century authors asked, about cultural relativism, hierarchy, equality, and whether we can reconcile Justice and Providence.

And in the author’s notes and acknowledgments at the back of the book, she takes it up more than a few notches – an issue I’ll get back to at the end of my review.

I wanted it so much. So much sometimes it felt like I couldn’t breathe. Sometimes I would cry, not because I was sad, but because it hurt, physical pain from the intensity of wanting something so much. I’m a good student of philosophy, I know my Stoics, Cynics, their advice, that, when a desire is so intense it hurts you, the healthy path is to detach, unwant it, let it go. (…) But there are a lot of reasons one can want to be an author: acclaim, wealth, self-respect, finding a community, the finite immortality of name in print, so many more. But I wanted it to add my voice to the Great Conversation, to reply to Diderot, Voltaire, Osamu Tezuka, and Alfred Bester, so people would read my books and think new things, and make new things from those thoughts, my little contribution to the path which flows from Gilgamesh and Homer to the stars. And that isn’t just for me. It’s for your. Which means it was the right choice to hang on to the desire, even when it hurt so much.

Well, that’s pretentious indeed. So much even, it kinda hurt my eyes. As I read it before I started the book itself, I entered with extreme caution.

Guess what, dear reader. About 25 pages in, the quality of this book already shone through crystal clear – like when you put on a brilliant record and you know it’s going to be brilliant for the remainder, halfway the first song.

While the jury is still out on whether Palmer made me think truly new things – I’ll reserve that judgement for when I finish the full series – the rest of her sentiments seem merited. Too Like the Lightning is one of the best books I have ever read, regardless of genre. Extremely ambitious, yes, but as a work of imagination, so far – again, this is just the first book – it is up there with the greats: Anathem, The Book of The New Sun, Dune.

A whole lot of readers won’t be convinced of that: this is a tough cookie. No beach read, no space opera romp. And even readers that do like chewy might not click with this: taste is taste. I don’t do the novel justice by reducing it to ‘intellectual’ by the way: it is a thrilling, at times wondrous story.

I’ll try to elaborate on my sentiments after the jump, and while doing so also say a few words about Palmer’s philosophical project.

Mycroft Canner, narrator and one of the protagonists, seems too good, too able, too well-connected to be true. He is named after Mycroft Holmes – Sherlock’s brother, even more intelligent, but somewhat detached. In Palmer’s future world, Mycroft has become the most common baby name, the paradox being that the narrator is both an Everyman and a Superman. A Samaritan and a sadistic criminal. For a book as ambitious and rich and imaginative as Too Like the Lightning it is a fitting guide.

It all boils down to this: this book is expertly & carefully constructed, on four fronts.

For starters – and this is important for most speculative fiction – there’s the world building. Rarely have I encountered a novel that is so intricately crafted, with so much backstory, so much history, so much detail, all interlocking. On top of that, Palmer is a master in disclosing her world bit by bit, providing that joy of joys for the speculative reader: the pleasure of slowly discovering something marvelous, something that’s spanning an entire world, an entire era.

I will not dwell too long on the book’s plot and content, you’ve probably read about that elsewhere, but I will say this: Terra Ignota is set on Earth in the 25th century, in a future that is more or less utopian and that more or less has abandoned the nation state in favor of a system of 7 guilds, or “Hives” – which one is free to join. People work only 20 hours a week, and there is transport system that can take anybody to any place in the world in under 2 hours, practically at will. People can work in Sydney, drink a coffee in London and dine in Hawaii, all in the same day, and it is that true globalism that brought the death of the nation state. Aside from politics & transport, there’s also a fair amount of cool tech, and as such this is a true science fiction novel, on a bold, vast canvas.

Utopia or not, political power, elites and prejudice are still an issue. The world Palmer paints is on the brink of war, Too Like the Lightning an account of the things that lead up to it.

But Palmer’s construction is not limited to the backdrop of her story. Also the story itself is an intricate affair. While this first book only describes a few days, there is a ton of mystery. Next list spells those out, without spoiling. There is mystery about the nature of Mycroft’s abilities, loyalties and motivations. There’s mystery about the crime central to the plot and about Mycroft’s past crimes. There’s mystery about Bridger and J.E.D.D. MASON – their origin, their nature and their abilities. There’s mystery about the political involvement in all the mysteries I have already named. And there’s mystery about the nature of the text we are reading – it is presented as a history for future readers, mainly written by Mycroft, but it is not fully clear who commissioned it or who edited it, and to what extent. It is not even clear if Mycroft writes the truth, let alone whether the other characters speak it. There are also a few meta-parts that add to this particular part of Palmer’s weaving.

Thirdly, it’s not only world building and plot, as Palmer also presents a deeper mystery, a metaphysical one: are we reading a realistic sci-fi novel? Or is this science fantasy too? Or rather science philosophy? What is the nature of creation? Our world? Our universe? Other universes? “This is a question of uncovering the deep truth about the provable reality humanity lives in, and someday sharing that.”

And finally, there is an ethical mystery too, or at least a question. With only the first book under my belt, I’d dare to claim that a question central to the series is a version of the trolley problem – what place does utilitarian calculus have in (the politics of) a world trying to be good?

Other philosophical themes tied with ethics include representation, free will, reductionism and the validity of determinism. There is an undercurrent examining nihilism too – linking D.A.F. De Sade to where ratio could take us. I will return to these themes in my future reviews of the remaining 3 books, hopefully at length – I don’t doubt that Palmer’s intentions in this regard will become more clear. (And even if they don’t, in that case there should be enough text on these matters to properly try and deconstruct it.)

The beauty and the wonder of Too Like the Lightning is that these 4 levels feed into each other, and not in some trivial way, but conceptually, narratively and formally. Palmer reportedly spent years and years planning the series, and everything – from the first book to the last one, Perhaps the Stars – was fully conceived before she started writing. That shows. It is nothing less than a triumph.


Other reviewers have spoken about Palmer’s prose, claiming the book is hard to read, as Mycroft’s voice tries a kind of faux 18th century English, and in the first chapter he – and ultimately Ada Palmer – claims that it is necessary to properly convey the story. I don’t think that choice was truly necessary, yet it does add flavor and character to the book. But, it also needs to be said that the English Palmer presents her readers is not the real issue: it is perfectly readable. It is not the language that’s 18th century-ish, it is certain parts of the content matter and formal stuff like Mycroft addressing the reader. Don’t fear long forgotten words or out of date grammar, spelling, phrases or whatever. Actually, the English of Too Like the Lightning is very much our own present day English, even though it is careful and considered. So what are some reviewers blathering about?

What does make this book hard to read is the meticulous construction and the way Palmer discloses information. Nothing is spoon fed. Important details are easily missed if you don’t pay attention. It’s also the reason some readers will drop out of this book: it is hard work. Yes, I loved reading it, I couldn’t put it down, but it also gave me stress, real physical stress – taking notes, trying to keep things in my mind, occasionally thumbing back a few pages or even chapters.

On top of that, Palmer uses a lot of different names for certain characters, and that adds to the density. I think her choice to do so is totally in line with the book’s content – as if she wanted to emphasize people play different roles in different contexts, and are perceived differently by different eyes.


Another thing I will not dwell on too long is the aspect of gender. I think Palmer does clever things with neutered pronouns, and gives an interesting spin on something that has been in vogue since Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch. She speaks at length about the issue in a 2016 interview in Scientific American by Clara Moskowitz, and her ideas and goals with the novel are interesting. However, contrary to Palmer, I think it is impossible “to get rid of gender” in the long run, and anybody thinking we will one day be able to bypass biology is naive. The biggest criticism I have about the book is the implication that the human race somehow would be able to evolve to forms of neutered sexuality in under 5 centuries. Granted, part of the book’s message is that we can’t stop the conversation about these things too soon: underneath the utopian veneer of the world Palmer presents us is a lot of unprocessed stuff. But even with that in mind, it is inconceivable that neutered sex – I’m talking about actual carnal love making, not gender as a social construct – would become the accepted social norm so quickly, seemingly widespread. But that particular aspect of Palmer’s gender ideas is just a minor thing in the narrative, hardly more than a page among the 429 pages. And given the book’s many, many strengths, and the fact that the idea provides for some larger-than-life theater, in a brothel no less, I can easily forgive Palmer.

Similarly, a few other things aren’t entirely realistic and could hinder suspension of disbelief. But also in these cases the main narrative doesn’t hinge on them. More so, they do generate symbolic effect, and as such serve the book’s content. They also remind us we are not reading an exact, realistic prediction of a future, and not a work of Hard SF either, but an artificial construction, a work of art, a piece of theater. Critics could call some of it a bit contrived, yes, but for me it all worked splendidly. Similarly, one could call out there’s a bit too much description of clothes, but it generally does serve character & world building rather than mere aesthetics.

Speaking of characters: so far this has not been a story that focuses on individual psychology. A big chunk of the sprawling supporting cast are larger than life – a president, a king, an emperor, the powers that be. Some are mere sketches so far, and might remain so. But that is not to say there is no meat on the bone either, Palmer does have something to say about humans, even though she paints these things in bright, clear strokes: love, hate, revenge, lust. And while J.E.D.D. and Mycroft are fascinating characters, all those mysteries keep their emotional development out of focus – even though I think a denouement on that front will be part of the subsequent books.


Too Like the Lightning can be very theatrical at times, and I think it is in that way we should also read the author’s notes I quoted from in the beginning. Pretentious? Yes, probably. I also think it is heartfelt, for who can fault a writer, an artist, to have ambition? To want to communicate feelings and ideas? Isn’t that the essence of a lot of art? I think it is brave for Ada Palmer to be honest and upfront about her reasons, rather than play the socially acceptable humble writer. It is also in line with another of the novel’s main ideas: Do we still aspire to greatness as a species? Do we dare dream? Do we aspire to the stars?


Normally, I leave a lot of room in between books of a series – 15 or 20 other titles. Part of that is to keep this blog varied. I will ditch that rule: I’m addicted. I’ll probably read 2 short novels first, but after those, expect a review of Seven Surrenders.

I hope Palmer doesn’t drop the ball somewhere in the remaining three books, but I have high hopes, given reviews like those on fellow blog A Sky of Books and Movies. And even if she would, that doesn’t take anything away of the mature & bold achievement that is her debut. Whatever happens, the first book of her next series – one she has been planning for years as well – will be an automatic, blind buy.

Highest possible recommendation, quoi.

“I have no truth to offer but what I believe.”


Consult the author index for my other reviews, or my favorite lists.

Click here for an index of my non-fiction or art book reviews, and here for an index of my longer fiction reviews of a more scholarly & philosophical nature.

59 responses to “TOO LIKE THE LIGHTNING – Ada Palmer (2016)

  1. It’s one of my favorite series!! The second and third books are my favorites, I’m still unsure about Perhaps the Stars. It answered a lot of questions (too many, perhaps) but it was too long and I hard a very hard time suspending my disbelief.
    The whole gender thing definitely evolves quite a bit during the series, as does religion.
    I am looking forward to your reviews of the following books.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the heads up, I’ll try to lower my expectations for book 4. I can see this derailing if she goes full out theater. On the other hand, it could be brilliant too. I guess it’s a matter of expectation management, as I wrote, I don’t think Palmer is aiming for realism, and I’m pretty sure that will become more clear as the series progresses. It’s a bit like Dune: who actually believes characters becoming prescient because they eat the excrement of giant sandworms? Or transform in a immortal worm themselves?

      As far as I can tell, it seems Palmer is well aware of the pulpy side of genre, and she has said she was also influenced by Japanese SF – manga also having this over-the-top quality at times.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for this.
    I’ve been thinking about trying Palmer but with everything you detailed in this review, I can tell I would hate it and her writing with a passion. I feel like you just saved me a LOT of frustration and anger, which is good 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’re very welcome, glad to serve! 🙂

      What exactly rubs you the wrong way about it?

      Liked by 1 person

      • First, that second quote by the author had my eyes rolling so hard that I almost got motion sickness. Seriously though, people like that rub me the wrong way and their attitude is usually reflected in their works.

        Secondly, her use and exploration of the philosophers you mention was an almost insta-kill for my interest.

        thirdly, the whole gender thing.

        plus some other smaller things, just little pinpricks. But it all added up to a realization that I’d rant and rave and honestly, I’m too tired for that anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yeah, as I said, at first I had trouble with that quote too. After reading the book, I think it suits, but I can fully understand your sentiment.
          That insta-kill viz. Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, is that due to their religious viewpoints being at odds with your own? (Fair enough obviously, just curious.)
          The gender thing is tricky. In a way – aside from what she says in the interview – the book itself is actually critical of dogmatic use of neutered pronouns. At least, I think it is. We’ll see how things change in the rest of the series (see Maryam’s comment).
          As always, I appreciate your honesty. I hope you’ll soon be able to refill your energy levels, turning the page on corona.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yep, with them being at odds with Christianity, it is something I’ll note and not enjoy reading about.
            When a book turns into a battlefield, well, I have to really want to read it for me to go on.

            Thanks. I’m hoping another week or two, but we’ll see…

            Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember hearing about this when it came out and then, with my eye very much more on detective fiction, it sort of slipped from my awareness. I’m glad you got so much out of what seems like a work that made some deliberately difficult choices, and thanks for bringing it back to my attention.

    Liked by 1 person

    • My pleasure! If you ever get to it, don’t hesitate to report back. There’s a detective mystery at the heart of the plot: a break-in related to a larger crime. 2 characters are explicit investigating it as sort-of police officers.

      Like

  4. I am excited about your reaction to this novel, Bart. And I am very much looking forward to your ideas about JEDD Mason and Bridger and some characters in books 2 and 3. In book 3 she’s heaping up even more complexity but it all stays controlled. It is amazing how in single chapters she juggles so many balls at the same time, politics, motivations, philosophical questions, by very efficient use of characters and locations.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good to read all that, looking forward. I also hope you’ll tackle & review Perhaps the Stars soon – spoiler free pretty please :).

      Both JEDD and Bridger’s nature could be a make or break issue for me, I’m very curious about the metaphysics underlying the series.

      Anyhow, thanks for providing the final nudge to start this, it was your 2022 TBR post that finally convinced me to give this a go.

      Like

      • The metaphysics concerning JEDD and Bridger are definitely a Great Mystery, but I have to say that Pure Fascination about the story trumps over any problems I might have with it. I’ll read Perhaps the Stars soon, but there is another 1200 page Malazan novel next in line. Also a very worthy series.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I can see no other way than either a fantasy aspect or alien ‘magic’ from another universe (or maybe an hitherto unknown ‘magic’ aspect of our own universe).

          I don’t have a priori problems with either option, it all depends on how its done, and on the (philosophical) implications for the rest of the books. We’ll see.

          Liked by 1 person

          • For the story, what is more important is what the inhabitants of this future world think about it. And for us, the readers, the most important thing is that it allows the reader to interpret the events of these novels in multiple ways and on higher abstract levels. The second book will make this clearer. The in-universe explanations are of secondary concern to the philosophical questions it raises.

            Liked by 1 person

  5. Woa, hold your horses! Putting one author into the middle of Herbert and Wolfe raises expectations beyond anything living authors could deliver.
    I have to rank this a bit higher on my tbr, right?

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ve been saying this since 2016 *cry*

      Liked by 3 people

      • Yes, I gladly stole your comparison, because I wholeheartedly agree. We’ll see whether it holds after I’ve read the 2nd, and the final 2 too.

        It’s obviously a bit dangerous to make such a comparison to such stalwarts of the genre, and I doubt it Palmer will manage to harness the same cult following – fandom is much more dispersed this day and age.

        I’ll need a bit of distance (and probably a reread) to really make up my mind, but even if the comparison turns out to not be fully valid – what comparison is anyway? – it will not be far off.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I think Palmer has much more in common with Wolfe than with Herbert, really. I mentioned Herbert because he is as you say a stalwart of the genre who inspired lots of discussion and essays. But as for textual games, Palmer is a Wolfe. But then again Palmer’s interests and philosophies are very different from Catholic Wolfe.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, agreed. But I do think Dune compares to Too Like the Lightning in that they both present a fully thought out future world with lots of backstory, detail, history, etc.

            Like

          • I just found this in an interview with Palmer on Track of Words. (I quote a bit more than just the Wolfe part because it might be interesting to others reading this.)

            “ToW: What about other influences within SFF? Are there particular authors, series or stories (whether current or otherwise) that you enjoy and draw inspiration from?

            AP: Yes, lots. The biggest is Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun, which was my model for complexity of world building and how complex a narrator can be, how many different onion layers of complication a narrator can add to a text. Also Delany, especially Empire Star, and Alfred Bester, both his short fiction and especially The Stars My Destination, which was a big influence on pacing, on my flashy party scenes, and on some of the themes, especially about humanity’s relationship with space and space travel.

            I’ve also really enjoyed discussing readers who are reading Terra Ignota in parallel with Malka Older’s Infomocracy and its sequels, since they both look at non-geographic political structures, and connect to the hopepunk genre of looking at futures which aren’t dystopia but also require hard work, and the discussions of the two side by side have been great. Same with Jo Walton’s Thessaly books, which she wrote partly in response after reading the first Terra Ignota books, and Ruthanna Emrys’s A Half-Built Garden, which isn’t out yet but is very much in that space and great to compare, all of them books about how we could make a society different from ours which could be better in some ways but still far from perfect, and the project of working to make those systems better.

            I also read a lot of Japanese science fiction, so people familiar with it will recognize influences from Osamu Tezuka, Naoki Urasawa, and some particular works like Gundam, and Revolutionary Girl Utena.”

            Like

        • OK, this is going on my 2022 to-read list. Thanks for the heads up, mate!

          Liked by 1 person

    • It’s tricky obviously – but I’m not really putting Palmer between those two, but I’m placing this book between two of their books. I’m not trying to be pedantic here, it’s just that it is a difference. As for Herbert: I think he’s way overestimated as an author. While I enjoyed my rereads of the Dune series, I only think the first book is truly a masterpiece. Overall I guess Wolfe is a better author than Herbert, even though my other ventures in his work have been a bit hit or miss – we’ll see about Short Sun and Latro. Palmer so far has only published 4 books, that in a way are 2×2 books in a linked series. We’ll see what here other output will be, to rank her as an author.

      But just this book merits comparison to those great works because it is really a singular thing. Not that is totally 100% original in every aspect: Henk, a reviewer on Goodreads, pointed out that there are some parallels to Ender’s Game (in the way they raise children), Fall of Hyperion (central plot), the last story from I, Robot (central plot too), and part of the utopia apparently has an Ayn Rand vibe. I haven’t read Ender nor Rand, and I basically forget everything from Fall & that Asimov story, so I can’t really comment on all that, but I’m willing to believe him. But the crux of the matter is the way she combines everything (and much, much more than just elements of these 4 sources) into a whole that is both entertaining and thought-provoking, in an impeccable prose, with a sense of wonder & detail that is simply unparalleled in most scifi novels I have read. The level of world building, detail and depth really is similar to the levels found in Anathem, Dune and BoTNS.

      As for the overall literary value, I’ll reserve my judgement until I’ve read the next book, that more or less closes one part of the story.

      Obviously there are other authors who do interesting and as worthy stuff too (KSR, Egan), but they operate in slightly different ways (not better or less qualitative, just different) and I haven’t read a book by them with the same level of speculative intricate depth & detail. That is not to diss KSR or Egan, as I think they are overall better/more interesting authors than both Herbert and Wolfe.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for your elaborate answer. I’m out of my depth, because I haven’t read the book under discussion.
        One day, maybe, I’ll read it, and then we can continue the discussion in my review 😉

        As for KSR, Egan vs Wolfe, I can’t see the first two on par with Wolfe. Not by far. But that’s only my opinion. (And you already know that I’m a big fan of KSR)

        Liked by 1 person

        • I must admit I’ve probably haven’t read enough Wolfe to make such a statement, it’s just a hunch, based on the fact that Long Sun 3 was a disappointment, and I’m lukewarm about The Knight as well. So far, Egan and KSR haven’t disappointed me.

          Liked by 1 person

        • (And as for Herbert vs. KSR or Egan, there’s no comparison. Almost everything I’ve read outside of Dune and its sequels has been a disappointment; and in a a way the sequels have been disappointments too.)

          Liked by 1 person

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  7. This is one of the books (and series) I’ve been somehow in awe of because it was easy to perceive its complexity from some of the reviews I read in the past, and your post confirmed that while this is as far from a “beach read” as possible, it might also turn into an intriguing and challenging exercise to be tried when I know I will be able to give it my undivided attention.
    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Interesting how my reservations about this book exactly mirror yours! (before you actually read it). Maybe I should give it another chance? I did read the first few chapters.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good question. My hunch is that if didn’t click after 50 pages, it never will. But where to draw that line? 35 pages? 25? No idea.
      Why did you stop reading? Those reservations – mainly the pretentiousness? Or no click with Diderot and the likes?

      Like

  9. I think maybe the way it was written? But while I laughed at your quote – I mean, Diderot, Voltaire….and Alfred Bester? – the fact that he’s an influence is a really useful insight into what sort of book Palmer was trying to write, as I’m guessing she meant to mimic Bester tonally (a good thing).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mmm. If you didn’t like the writing style, it might be hard. Still, I’d give yourself enough time to get used to the narrative voice, and be hooked by the story.

      I’ve only read 2 Bester books, and I can’t say I remember a specific tonality. She said in an interview it partly had to do with his pacing, and I can see where she is coming from (see somewhere in the other comments for that interview, in which she talks about other influences too, like Wolfe).

      Like

  10. When I say tonally, I just mean it sounds like the sort of book Alfred Bester might have written. Tiger, Tiger/The Stars My Destination has a certain headlong momentum; it’s also a very busy book with a lot going on in it. So there seem to be certain broad corollaries.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I had long hesitated because of the pretentiousness you mention – but seeing how well it turned out for you and Jeroen, I’ll put Palmer on this year’s TBR. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I’m so glad you appreciated this one. I still feel very unsure about a lot of it, but I do want to read on … because I have so many questions!!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I completely bounced off this and DNFed it at about 80 pages, but I’m glad that even someone who liked it also found Palmer’s quoted afterword to be almost painfully, embarrassingly pretentious.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes I can understand people bouncing off this 100%. It’s a cliché, but I really think this is one of those love it or hate it affairs.

      As for the afterword, having finished the full novel, I think it’s less problematic as I explain in the review, but there sure is something in Palmer’s tone that’s rarely done in public this day and age.

      Like

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  15. I’m glad to see your enthusiasm for this one. It caught my attention when it first came out but I’ve not gotten around to reading it. Just pushed it up my queue a bit. I found it interesting that you (and others) interpreted her quote as pretentious as it didn’t strike me that way. I saw it more as passionate, ambitious, wishful, that overpowering desire to contribute to something greater than yourself. Always fascinating how we all see things differently. Granted, my context is strictly what I’ve read in your review as I know nothing else about the author so I could easily be missing something that might shift my opinion. But regardless of any of that I look forward to one day trying the series, and I look forward to your reviews of the future volumes to see if they continue to hold your attention. Thanks for the thoughtful review.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sharing your perspective – it’s good to be confronted with such different interpretations. But I agree, after reading the full book I see it more as passionate/ambitious/wishful than pretentious.

      I’m about 100 pages in book 2 atm, and while the start of that was a wee bit rocky, I’m loving it as much so far, so I have high hopes for the entire book being as good as the first.

      Liked by 1 person

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