Review: Bone Silence (Revenger 3) Alastair Reynolds

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.

3 thoughts on “Review: Bone Silence (Revenger 3) Alastair Reynolds

  1. I really enjoyed this series, it was a great, fast-moving adventure. But as with GRRM, you don’t dare get too attached to any given character.

    I grew up in a small town knowing and hearing absolutely nothing about Jewish people and their religion apart from Fiddler on the Roof and Yentl, so the possible tropes would never have occurred to me. I thought that the actions of the alien bankers made sense after the reveal. (Is any reference to a banker with a hidden agenda automatically anti-Semitic?) My main quibble with the series is that there are several “logical leaps” where one of the main characters figures out something important without, in my opinion, having been given sufficient evidence to actually come to that correct conclusion.

    I loved the inventive worldbuilding, even if some of it was a bit hand-wavy.

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    1. //is any reference to a banker with a hidden agenda automatically anti-Semitic?//

      Not just a banker but a race of bankers manipulating the economy to make people work for them whom [spoiler] jurer bapr freinagf/fynirf bs uhznavgl naq gur bar jub erirnyf guvf vf cneg bs n dhnfv obyfurivx eribyhgvba ntnvafg pncvgny. Now, clearly Reynold’s isn’t trying to be antisemitic but tropes do their own work.

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      1. Thanks, this is just one of the reasons why I love reading your posts, because you’re incredibly well-read and really see the deep implications among disparate things which would just never occur to me.

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