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Blood of the Mantis

Posted by Steve the Bookstore Guy On Monday, June 14, 2010

We love Adrian Tchaikovsky. There really is no way around it. It can be an inconvenience at times, seeing as we stare at other novels and wish that they were another novel in the Shadows of the Apt series. It turns out Tchaikovsky just keeps putting out novels that continually feel fresh, and that are immensely fun to read. Now the third book of the series, BLOOD OF THE MANTIS, could have been awful. Tchaikovsky could have tried to go even bigger than DRAGONFLY FALLING. That would have been a terrible mistake. There was such huge-scale warfare in book 2, that to try to one-up it would have been nearly impossible. And yet we see it all the time.

BLOOD OF THE MANTIS didn't do this. In fact, there was no real large-scale war at all in this novel. No, rather Tchaikovsky went MUCH smaller scale, but also went MUCH more personal. The result is an extremely character oriented novel with more a more distinct focus on the sinister, political and spy-ish aspects of the world.

The plot of MANTIS is essentially the search for the Shadow Box introduced in book 2. Tchaikovsky does a fantastic job keeping this item mysterious while at the same time giving the reader a good idea as to how dangerous it is. Mostly this is done through the attitudes of the characters. When someone like Tisamon or Achaeos becomes frightened over the possibilities the Box brings, the readers naturally feel the same way. This is truly a tribute to how well Tchaikovsky writes his characters. Again, as in previous novels, new characters are continually introduced. Somehow we are interested in all of them. We were anxious follow their adventures, and feared for them during their plights. The world is legitimately dangerous, and that sense is transferred onto the characters.

In this third novel, the evolution of warfare is continued. The character Totho--one of our least favorites during the majority of books 1 and 2--suddenly becomes extremely interesting due to changes in his attitude. An assassin is introduced that has almost no screen-time, yet has us giddy with his prospects. Entire races and their circumstances (specifically the Bee-kinden) were so effortlessly made important and interesting.

Really, all of these things are Tchaikovsky's strengths. Does he have weaknesses? Sure, but they seem to be slowly vanishing as each book progresses. His PoV jumping is far less noticeable. His clarity has improved, as has his pacing.

BLOOD OF THE MANTIS ends in a cliff-hanger...a very, "Holy crap, what happened!?" cliff-hanger. As intelligent and awesome as we are, we still have no idea how this particular story-arc is going to end. BLOOD OF THE MANTIS was a fantastic novel, and in many ways the best of the series thus far.

In Tchaikovsky's Shadows of the Apt, we have one of the most interesting worlds created by a modern fantasy author. This is a projected (at least) 10-book series that will be broken into segments. If you aren't reading this series, you must have eaten paint-chips as a child. Or someone terrible like Goodkind has you under some form of Stockholm Syndrome.

Unfortunately for all you, SALUTE THE DARK isn't released until September. Fortunately for us, Steve has the ARC for it in his greedy hands. WEEEEE!

Again, we love Adrian Tchaikovsky.

Recommended Age: 15 and up.
Language: Not so much.
Violence: Yeah, but nothing graphic, and well described.
Sex: Mentioned, but not focused on or shown in any detail.

Tchaikovsky's Website:

Also, the cover for this book is awesome. John Sullivan really is an incredible artist.


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