for big book aficionados, for a story that takes its time in unfolding, for a plot that weaves in and out and around until you’re entirely surrounded in it, for adult Paolini goodness that shows how much he’s grown as an author
During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.
As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.
While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope . . .
The elephant in the room is actually the book itself, because it’s about as big as an elephant. It’s about 820 pages of story, with another 50 or so pages of addenda at the end. Yes, if you decide to commit to this book, you need to really be ready to commit to this book.
And the obvious followup question is if it’s worth it. To that, I would say definitely yes, but there will probably be times when reading where it doesn’t feel it. This was a strange experience where every time I read the book, I loved it and couldn’t wait for more. But in between sessions, I almost grimaced at the thought of picking it back up again because I had been reading it for so long already! I think this is ultimately a personal issue, which I navigated by reading a few shorter books of other genres during the month-ish time that I tackled TSIASOS. If you’re the same, have a plan going in.
Paolini definitely delivered on content and story in that amount though. There was hardly a dull moment, and the story just grows and grows and grows until you find yourself amazed at where you’ve ended up only halfway through compared to where you started. And let me tell you, where you end is even more incredible of a journey.
Take your time with this one. Savor it. Don’t try to cram it in, because that will probably ruin the feel of it. Does it need to be this long? I guess the answer is no, not need, but it’s mostly earned its page length.
There was one specific section of the plot that seemed entirely unnecessary due to the way it concluded. We spent a chunk of time pursuing that point, and yet I felt like at the end we were nowhere different than before we’d started. There were a few key changes resulting from it, but they could have been implemented in another way that didn’t require such a roundabout start. To the very end of the book, I kept thinking that the events there would come into play again…. and they never did. So I’m slightly baffled by that. It’s the kind of open question that makes me wonder if it’s left unknown for a spin-off or followup regarding it.
But, honestly, I’m not sure I would want spinoffs or more in this universe! I absolutely loved the way this ended. Sure, the plot was wrapped up well, but what I really appreciated was the tone and emotion that sent it off. I felt unsure, but hopeful and optimistic. That’s a really lovely combination of feelings, especially after such a long, convoluted ride with these characters.
(Who am I kidding, I would totally read more set in this universe.)
Ultimately it felt open ended in a way I liked: a lot of questions left, but in a comforting way, like it lent the lives a bit more humanity because who ever actually has all their plans in life sorted out neatly? It ended in a way that implied the characters left go on, and that, for me, was absolutely brilliant.
Special note here for the delightful additions at the end of the novel!! I feel like that kind of thing gets neglected far too often, and I refuse to let that happen. Paolini went to extreme lengths to make this book scientifically accurate. He used actual research and included the physics of antimatter and how light can cause movement in space and if FTL travel would make time travel possible or not. That effort alone is positively heartwarming for me! The lore at the end delivered some of this info through excerpts of the world itself, like a multigenre expose. And please, please, read the author’s note and acknowledgments. There are fun little treats there. ^.^
Thanks to Tor and Bookishfirst for a free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.