BOOK REVIEW: Eyes of the Void, by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Rating: 3 out of 5.
  • The Final Architecture (#2)
  • Published by Tor Books
  • First published in 2022
  • A grand Space Opera
  • 576 pages

The Architects have returned, but only Idris knows the terrifying truth. That something is controlling them. His quest for answers leads him deep into alien space. But even Idris cannot escape humanity. Nor the war that is about to come . . .

There is no such thing as an objective review. Anyone who claims otherwise is a liar. Even something as seemingly objective as grammar really boils down to personal taste. One reader’s ground-breaking structure is another’s awful mess. Further complicating the issue is the fact that reading does not occur in a vacuum. No two readers approach a book in the same circumstances. What one sees as charming, another sees as cloying and sentimental. When you review a book, you have to account for personal taste. I don’t ascribe to the philosophy of mood reading, but if I have a headache, of course books become harder to follow. Then there are more general points. Tropes I dislike. Narrative techniques that annoy me. No one is immune to these foibles, and they crop up whenever you least expect them. All of this preamble goes some way to accounting for my reaction to Eyes of the Void. Because while Tchaikovsky is one of my favourite authors, and I very much enjoyed the previous book in the trilogy, Eyes of the Void did very little for me. And I don’t know exactly why that’s the case.

Eyes of the Void continues the work set out by Shards of Earth. A scrappy crew try and stay one step ahead of their enemies while also uncovering a threat to galactic stability. The formula is a good one, proven many times over. And maybe that’s the issue. Tchaikovsky is one of the most inventive science fiction authors out there. But this is much more of a traditional space opera than his other work. All the ideas are executed very well, but a lot of them are ones I’ve seen before. Novelty isn’t the only thing that draws me to a book, but it does help. There are snatches of brilliance here. The Essiel remain a great species to investigate, and we do get more of them in this book, and the genetic engineering angle is a lot more balanced than a lot of contemporary writers.

Stories about ships and their crews require an interesting crew to work, and while Shards of Earth was largely told from two perspectives, in this sequel everyone gets in on the narrative game. Maybe there are too many viewpoints, actually. They’re clearly marked out so there’s no inter-paragraph head hopping, but there are still a lot of voices competing for attention. Having so many viewpoints in the same narrative role (that of Idris’ crew) brings the first half of the book to a crawl. Things do become much more interesting in the second half, as Tchaikovsky breaks out the big science fiction concepts for which he is known, but getting there is tough going if you’re not invested in the ragtag heroes.

Eyes of the Void is not a weak enough novel to make me drop the series, and I fully intend to read each Tchaikovsky novel and novella as they are released. But it is a rather disappointing wobble in a series that started off so strongly.

If you enjoyed this book, you might also enjoy:
Creation Engine, by Andrew Bannister
Embers of War, by Gareth L. Powell
The Stars Now Unclaimed, by Drew Williams

Published by Alex Hormann

I'm a writer, reader, and farmer, with an interest in all things speculative.

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