The Edge of Worlds by Martha Wells is the first in a spin-off trilogy set in the same world as her previous Raksura books. I found this a great place to jump in even though I haven’t read the previous trilogy, so have no fear! The Three Worlds are full of a vast array of intelligent and semi-intelligent species along with a unique ecosystem for them to live (giiiiiiiiiaaaaant trees!). I loved getting to know these characters and discovering this world and I’m definitely now hooked on these books.
Note: I received an advanced copy of The Edge of Worlds from the publisher. Some things may have changed in the final version.
The Edge of Worlds by Martha Wells (The Books of the Raksura #4)
Published by Nightshade Books on April 5th, 2016
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Page Length: 400 pages
How I got my copy: Publisher
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An expedition of groundlings from the Empire of Kish have traveled through the Three Worlds to the Indigo Cloud court of the Raksura, shape-shifting creatures of flight that live in large family groups. The groundlings have found a sealed ancient city at the edge of the shallow seas, near the deeps of the impassable Ocean. They believe it to be the last home of their ancestors and ask for help getting inside. But the Raksura fear it was built by their own distant ancestors, the Forerunners, and the last sealed Forerunner city they encountered was a prison for an unstoppable evil.
Prior to the groundlings’ arrival, the Indigo Cloud court had been plagued by visions of a disaster that could destroy all the courts in the Reaches. Now, the court’s mentors believe the ancient city is connected to the foretold danger. A small group of warriors, including consort Moon, an orphan new to the colony and the Raksura’s idea of family, and sister queen Jade, agree to go with the groundling expedition to investigate. But the predatory Fell have found the city too, and in the race to keep the danger contained, the Raksura may be the ones who inadvertently release it.
The Edge of Worlds, from celebrated fantasy author Martha Wells, returns to the fascinating world of The Cloud Roads for the first book in a new series of strange lands, uncanny beings, dead cities, and ancient danger.
- I was a bit worried about jumping in with The Edge of Worlds when I hadn’t read the previous trilogy (starting with The Cloud Roads), but it wasn’t a problem. There were a few references to past events, but for the most part there was enough explanation of terms and description of creatures that I didn’t feel lost at all.
- The Three Worlds are freaking fascinating. I had my biologist hat on immediately, pondering how such massive trees could evolve and what implications that would have for the other plants and animals. There are some excellent details like how enough dirt will accumulate in the branches of one tree that a seedling will start to grow until it gets too big and collapses down. Fascinating!!
- There are a fair number of secondary characters, but I had a lot of fun getting to know them all. Wells manages to make each have a strong and memorable personality despite the size of the group. I really felt like I could pull up a chair and chill out with all these Raksura.
- A lot of books have kind of a matriarchal society, but The Edge of Worlds has a lot of small details that really emphasize the different role that gender plays for the Raksura. The males defer to their mates for a lot of decisions, it is more socially acceptable for males to be physically and emotionally close to each other than for female Raksura, it is assumed the defensive and leadership roles will go to women. I loved running into these moments of “Wow, those two male Raksura are rather snuggly” and then realizing that it wouldn’t even seem noticeable if it was two female characters. It really puts our cultural expectations into perspective.
- Starting here does require you to be comfortable being thrown into a fantasy world and having to deduce some things. I had to pay attention to descriptions to infer how the Raksura society works, for example, whereas I suspect readers of the previous trilogy already understand that. Like I said above, I didn’t have too much trouble, but it is a specific style that not everyone likes.
- There are a lot of species in the Three Worlds and for some reason I had trouble visualizing them and remembering the details of each of them. We encounter a number of different humanoids with things like blue skin and silver plates, but I had trouble keeping those details connected to the characters that belonged to each species.
- Cliffhanger alert! The main plot gets wrapped up, but there is definitely still a big problem at the end of The Edge of Worlds that isn’t resolved and may have you shaking the book, demanding to know what happens next asap ;-).
The Edge of Worlds is a wonderful fantasy for fans of strong world-building and lovable characters. I found jumping in at this point wasn’t too difficult, though I do now want to go back and read the original trilogy. If you’ve been looking for a sweeping fantasy focused on non-human creatures and like matriarchal societies, you can’t miss this.
Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
The Edge of Worlds by Martha Wells
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