Seven Surrenders by Ada Palmer
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Thanks to the publisher for the ARC of this novel!
This is one of those situations where extremely high expectation meets flawless delivery, and I can't be happier for it.
Too Like The Lightning was a futuristic political thriller with very heavy under and overtones about the meaning of God and what it means, with great variety and depth of exploration, to a people who are both jaded and very reliant on old Enlightenment ideas and ideals even though they're firmly set in the 25th Century.
By way of great reveals and thriller moments, we're invested in the machinations of seven enormous political entities defined by the ideals they hold since nations' borders are pretty much a dead issue with near-instantaneous travel.
We're introduced to so many great elements in that novel and even more that I'm not even touching upon here, such as gender questions, practical and general philosophy, and especially the whole realm of politics and its basic nature.
However, while all of these issues are also important in the sequel, the one that really strikes me as most important is the whole issue of God and/or Gods.
Things get really hairy when an actual incarnation of a deity in the shape of a growing little boy who is now a young man who really can perform miracles, potentially unlimited miracles, finally has the attention of the rulers of this strange, nearly utopian Earth on the brink of war and total dissolution.
On the other side of the coin and firmly in the political arena is another deity who has been locked away from his ineffableness and who has been seated firmly in the body of a regular human. His is knowledge without power as the other is power without knowledge. This spinning coin is truly hypnotic even as the enormous world-building and the political maneuvers reach a screaming intensity, and let's not lose sight of the truly wonderful characters of Mycroft and Sniper and Carlyle that carry this tale all the way through to a fascinating conclusion.
Not that this is the end of the tale, of course.
Ada Palmer has done something truly brilliant with these tales and the sheer density of ideas and the drives of such a strong underlying tales are more than enough to make me a lifelong fan and rabid reader of much, much more. I suspect that we're far from done with this. I was satisfied with the end of Too Like The Lighting and I was very satisfied with the end of Seven Surrenders, too, which is a very neat trick for any tale so complicated as these. Even so, I was heavily motivated to re-read the first in preparation for this one and I was very happy to do so.
These are extremely re-readable tales with a lot of easter eggs and multiple layers even while the text is quite easy to follow. It's a mark of something quite amazing, I believe. Just the really late realization of what the Masons really meant even though all of it had been staring in my face all along made me grin like an idiot for a good fifteen minutes. I love being surprised and being shown that I'm rather dim-witted. :)
This is a very smart read and well-worth a lot of close attention. I know that both of these novels have rocketed up to my top-favorite tales. :)
Keep a close eye out for these! The quality is quite amazing. :)
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