Chaison Fanning, the admiral of a fleet of warships, has been captured and imprisoned by his enemies, but is suddenly rescued and set free. He flees through the sky to his home city to confront the ruler who betrayed him. And perhaps even to regain his lovely, powerful, and subversive wife, Venera, who he has not seen since she fled with the key to the artificial sun at the center of Virga, Candesce.
Schroeder sets a whole new standard for hard sci-fi space opera.
©2008 Karl Schroeder; (P)2008 Macmillan Audio
Audible listener since the late 1990s. I mostly listen to science fiction, fantasy, history, and science.
This is the third book in the Virga series, each of which has focused on a different character on the same continuing journey begun in the first book. As always, these books continue to amaze as examples of world-building. The novels are set in a scientifically plausible giant artificial gas bag in freefall, containing many small suns. Even if you are bored of sky pirates and rotating towns by this third novel, Mr. Schroeder has new amazements -- precipice moths! underground currency that gives license to commit crimes! battles between giant towns slowly sent crashing into each other, whole populations leaping from one house to another! There is plenty of the old sense-of-wonder going on here.
And yet, the plot of the book is a Hollywood action movie, specifically the kind of good-natured adventure movie of the old school - the hero is constantly in the right place at the right time to witness amazing things. Narrow escapes abound, nobility is a key virtue, and incredibly staged fights are common. The result can be a bit charactured at times, but is almost always thrilling.
The character at the heart of this book, however, is the least fascinating of the lot, but still quite interesting, overall. Start with the first novel - you'll enjoy this by the time you are three books in - it is well worth it.
Schroeder should win an award just for the sheer imagination displayed in this third book of Virga. The author obviously enjoys putting his characters in strange situations just to challenge his writing abilities . . . and he never disappoints. This book has a dragon unlike any dragon you have ever read about before, a chase scene unlike any chase scene, a flood unlike any flood . . . and that's just three examples. The book is chock-full of images and situations that are absolutely fresh and unique. Schroeder follows CS Lewis' advice, making me see in my mind what he is describing, no matter how unusual, rather than taking the easy way out and merely saying something is “terrible” or "infinite." With just a few words or sentences, he can make me inhale sharply at the terror on the page, or shake my head in astonishment at the enormity of the vista he has laid out. Add in great characters and a fast-paced story and you have a book that should not be missed. Excellent narrators.
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