Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

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Publisher: Tor UK

Publish Date: 27 May 2021

Page Count: 592 pages

Today is my stop on the Ultimate Blog Tour for Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky! A big thank you to TheWriteReads and Black Crow PR for allowing me to take part. Despite following Tchaikovsky’s writing fairly closely, it’s been far too long since I dove into one of his novels, so I’m excited to participate!

This book has received an incredibly positive reception so far. Check out #TheWriteReads and #ShardsOfEarth on Twitter to see what the blog tour gang has been saying.

This high-stakes space-based adventure will be perfect for those who loved Children of Time, also by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . .

Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade his mind in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.

Eighty years ago, Earth was destroyed by an alien enemy. Many escaped, but millions more died. So mankind created enhanced humans ­such as Idris – who could communicate mind-to-mind with our aggressors. Then these ‘Architects’ simply disappeared and Idris and his kind became obsolete.

Now, Idris and his crew have something strange, abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects – but are they really returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy as they search for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, and many would kill to obtain it.

Shards of Earth is the first instalment in The Architects Trilogy and delivers all the far-future worldbuilding and biological strangeness that many readers loved about Children of Time. The book dives straight into the action and doesn’t slow down. There’s a steep learning curve with different names, places and organisations to get your head around, but the handy glossary helped jog my memory between reading sessions. 

While the story and the narrative voice with its subtle, dry humour are recognisably Tchaikovsky, the author describes Shards of Earth as his first foray into space opera. In contrast to his previous science fiction work anchored in scientific plausibility, The Architects uses fictional elements such as faster-than-light travel that Tchaikovsky describes as leaning more towards the fantastical. 

I mention this since it led to some very cool concepts, and experiencing Tchaikovsky’s curious imagination in full was my favourite thing about the book. Who else would come up with ideas like incomprehensible moon-sized aliens that can manipulate matter on a molecular level? Or a spacecraft that substitutes propulsion with a ‘grabby drive’, harnessing ambient gravity to flit through space like an interstellar fly? Discoveries are vast in this story set in a post-singularity far-future.

The plot closely follows a ragtag salvaging crew who are in just a bit over their heads, and there’s plenty of drama of the personal and world-saving variety to keep up the tension. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like I really connected with the characters, but I might have been more emotionally invested in the book had my schedule allowed for longer reading sessions. 

While I didn’t love Shards of Earth quite as much as I did Children of Time, the overarching mystery of the Architects has me excited to see where this series goes next. 

Trigger warnings:

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