BOOK REVIEW: Bone Silence, by Alastair Reynolds

-Spoilers for Revenger and Shadow Captain

bone.jpg

Publisher: Gollancz

Genre: Space Opera

Series: Revenger (#3)

Pages: 602

Publication Date: 30/01/2020

Rating: 4/5

 

Arafura and Adrana, the sisters Ness, have embraced their pirate reputation. But raiding ships throughout the ruins of the solar system is not an easy life, and it only gets harder when the law comes down on them. yet even the threat of execution cannot get in the way of a conspiracy that spans across civilisations and even species . . .

The final volume of Reynolds’ Revenger trilogy has a lot going on, as evidenced by the sheer size of it. But while it’s the biggest in terms of page count, it’s also the most focused book of the series. Splitting the narrative between the two sisters, Bone Silence is largely set across two ships and a single colony. Against a massive and sprawling backdrop, this tighter focus rewards the attentive reader with callbacks to earlier installments. even seemingly inconsequential encounters from previous books have their fallout here. It’s intricate, glorious and a lot of fun.

One of the things Reynolds handles particularly well is the nature of a crew. By this point the Ness sisters have gathered a number of misfits and outlaws to their cause. Some of them more willing than otherwise. But this isn’t just another tired Found Family story. Rather than falling for the obvious trap, Reynolds gives us a more realistic look at the stresses facing a crew of strangers. There’s not a lot of trust going on. People blackmail each other just as much as they help one another. It’s grim, dirty and brilliant. This is a crew that has been pushed to breaking point and then on from there. As readers of his work will know, Reynolds is perfectly willing to kill and maim his characters, and that willingness is on full display here. Be they villain, hero or somewhere in between, no one ever feels completely safe. Which is just as it should be. Space, after all, is a dangerous place.

Throughout the series, Reynolds has teased hints as to the history of his far-future setting. The ruins of our solar system in the far future is an evocative setting, and one that poses many mysteries. Not all are answered, and several more are thrown into the mix. The origin of the quoins, the nature of the various aliens populating an otherwise human civilisation, all these are tackled. Some answers are surprising, others seem obvious in hindsight, but above all they all make sense. It’s a setting that could easily have many more stories told in it, but not, it would seem, just yet.

Bone Silence‘s only real weakness is that it seems unsure of where to end. With so many plot strands, it’s inevitable that not all will be wrapped up by the novel’s end. Reynolds’ decision to focus on the quoins and the Ness siblings is the solution that makes the most sense, as this is very much their story. But the last few chapters do drag somewhat, and even then the book is left open-ended. As Reynolds explains in the afterword, he may one day return to the Ness sisters, but it does feel as though the novel is incomplete.

Despite the lack of resolution at the end, Bone Silence remains a strong book, and a fitting conclusion to the Revenger trilogy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s