Back into the ancient future pirate antics of the Ness sisters and their dark-sailed ship Revenger. This final instalment is the strongest of the three: the first lacked clarity of the setting and the second got it’s characters bogged down but in this third outing there’s more action, plot and impetus.
Each novel has had a shift in perspective with the two central characters and the third adopts a third-person approach to follow the perspective Arafura and Adrana, alternating between the two. With ships of the authority in pursuit of them after their actions at the end of the last book disrupted the economy of the solar system, the sister’s set out to solve many of the mysteries that surround them.
Slow low-tech space battles, intrigue and ghostie gubbins, the work Reynolds put into establishing this run-down, cobbled-together and ramshackle space-faring solar system really comes together. There is both a very grounded sense of space practicalities (any journey for A to B takes days) but also fantastical elements with ancient alien skull communicators, nightmarish things lurking, the aforementioned ghostie gubbins and parasitic light vine plants.
Pushing the plot along is a quest for answers about this whole setting. Why are people living in this broken down world that depends on technology far beyond their understanding? Why do civilisations there rise and fall periodically and what is going on with those quoins? Here the book does less well and rather like the end of book 2, the answers when they come feel a bit tacked on and incomplete. Reynolds doubles-down on the idea that the aliens who are controlling the banks are instigating economic crashes for their own purposes, stepping directly into a mess of anti-semitic tropes (presumably unwittingly).
I listened to the audio book version narrated by Clare Corbett, which was a delight. She really got into the whole space pirate patter and did her best to give the sense of the different (but very similar) characters of the two sisters.