“A hero does not choose her trial.”
All the stars!
I wondered how Brandon Sanderson would manage to keep the quality of this series as Skyward was one of the most fabulous reads I have read these last years. And Starsight was my most awaited book with The Queen of Nothing. To say that I crossed fingers and toes when I began this book would be a gross understatement!
But Brandon surpassed my expectations!!
This story arc is clever as it managed to give me a Spensa forced to prove herself like she did when she wanted to become a pilot and bring forth a very important lesson: past our differences, we are all the same!
This sequel was once more exhilarating! I don’t have a better word to describe my mood and feelings while listening to Suzy Jackson brilliantly narrating Spensa’s adventures!
Brandon Sanderson gave me everything I love in epic stories:
- A kickass heroine who began as the underdog and had to fight teeth and nails to reach her goal;
- A new crew, comrades in arms;
- A villain who is not the most obvious one in the story;
- An incredible set of characters, extremely well fleshed out to make them feel like your real friends or foes once again;
- A quest with many ordeals;
- A fantastic world building;
- Very important messages and lots of wisdom that I think many kids and adults should soak and ponder.
Let’s detail these statements:
- The kickass heroine
If you have read Skyward, you know that Spensa had to fight from day one to get what she wanted: become a pilot. In this sequel, Spensa is still a daredevil but she also has to develop new skills as a spy and as a leader. She has no training in these fields but she is smart, quick on her feet and her bravery is inspirational! It’s been asked of her to not talk too much as she is undercover, be like a wallflower but of course, this is impossible for her. It’s Spensa we are talking about! Brawler Spensa! Hot headed Spensa. Queen of impulsivity and Empress of heroic and mad save!
She is my favorite kind of heroine: the self made one. A little hotheaded, a lot impulsive but brave and with the heart in the right place!
- A new crew!
I love crews in books. Because in science fiction or fantasy a crew usually means being united in a quest or in a fight against something! All the bonding between comrades, the friendship, the acts of valor …. I drink it like hot chocolate at Christmas!
Spensa had to leave behind her “our” old crew with Jorgen, Kymmelin etc. but she’ll unexpectedly join a new one. And what a crew! See the part about the characters here below but know that that crew was a “one of a kind” made of different alien races, with many loyal members and … one traitor (no telling more).
- A villain
And added quality is that our villain is not the one we’ll be focusing all along! I love it when authors lead us on LOL
- Extremely well fleshed out characters
Of course we have many details by now to imagine Spensa, her appearance and her personality. But all the new characters here will feel real. Not because Brandon Sanderson spends much time to describe them, well yes there is description of course, but because he makes them flesh and bones through their actions and interactions with Spensa!
- A quest
Spensa has been to the end of the galaxy to learn more about her Cytonic ability and also learn the secret behind the hyperdrive technology used by the Krells. Humans must have a mean to escape Detritus. Ready to spy and walk among the enemy, she never expected to find well … if not always friendship at least comradery! And the quest will also become more complex as new threats arise!
- Incredible world building
We are in space so of course you have planets but each planet is different. The alien races are where Brandon Sanderson excels. His imagination amazed me giving us so much diversity!
You will have “Figments” like Vapor, a special alien race that you can’t see but only smell. And their smell change with their mood. You’ll have Kitsune, like in the old Japanese tales with their proud representative being captain Hesho, poet and valorous warrior. You have Krells but also races creating “drafts” of their future kids by merging both parents and giving is a try for some months before deciding if his personality was something you wanted to be born “for good” like Morriumur. And of course, you also have the ominous delver!
- Last but not least: the wisdom and messages
That’s one of my favorite tropes that Brandon Sanderson used to make me fall in love with this story: the “we are not so different when we get to know each other”.
That’s maybe the biggest lesson here!
We hate what we don’t know and perceive as a threat.
Spensa hates the Krells who are killing her people for years, preventing them to escape.
But now, forced to blend in, she gets to participate in alien’s every-day life.
She eats their food, walk in their streets, learn their facial expression. She discovers that they have kids. Kids who love to play with water bubbles. Adults who have dreams and love.
This is a stunning realization!
Aliens, be they Krells, Figments, Kitsune or others do have feelings!
When you stop looking at a “people”, at a “whole” but get to know the individuals, the differences disappear and that’s where similarities come to play. Acceptance is the big message carried by Brandon Sanderson in a “non-patronizing” way! This is such a contemporary topic as we still witness wars, immigration and terrorism born from fearing “the stranger”, because we just don’t know him!
Scud! This has been such a long review again!
Let’s summarize with: I was enthralled, exhilarated, amazed and I want everyone to read/listen to it!
Have you read it? Or have you read Skyward?
Thanks for reading!