Review: Revenger by Alastair Reynolds

I could have sworn I’d written this review already but apparently not. So a bit less than fresh, as I read this several weeks ago. Sorry.

It is the ancient future! Humanity lives among the stars on strange space habitats of unfathomable age, populated with other aliens, inscrutable technology and eccentric robots.

Between the artificial worlds, space ships catch the solar winds on the massive sails and plough the depths of space in search of treasure! Secreted across the trade routes, booby-trapped citadels hold incredible secrets – alien technologies, some benign and some effectively cursed. Humans with special talents read the thoughts of eldritch skulls that speak across the vast distances between worlds.

Humans with special talents read the thoughts of eldritch skulls that speak across the vast distances between worlds. While other humans follow a more traditional profession – PIRACY!

Yes, swash your buckles and hoist your mainsail! This is a bloody tale of pirates and revenge on the high seas, um, spaceways.

Reynolds is a dab-hand at space opera and Revenger helps show his range. The strange habitats and deep future have a little in common with his book House of Suns but otherwise, this is an unusual setting for Reynolds – with a bit of a Gene Wolfe feel and a classic pirate story of an innocent who learns to become a woman to be feared.

There are twists but few surprises as if Reynolds wants to fit in everybody’s expectations of a dark tale of one sailor’s encounter with a notorious, almost mythical pirate ship. The setting is decidedly space fantasy with technology that is unapologetically close to magic.

Dark escapism told impeccably well.



  1. JJ

    camestrosfelapton: I didn’t think of Revenger as YA until JJ mentioned that it had been classed as such (at which point I could see why).

    I just kind of rolled my eyes when I saw that Locus had classed it as YA. Perhaps their reviewers hadn’t read much YA, and they were scraping to fill the category. The main characters are 18 and 17 at the start, but the content of the book itself is definitely not YA.


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