As you might be able to tell by my blog silence, I’ve been struggling a bit recently. I’ve basically thrown myself into work, which is fine as I love my job and am getting lots done, but just haven’t had the brain capacity for reading. Additionally – or because of that – it’s also been something of a slog getting through this last book. I’d like to blame myself, but really I think it was both of us …
Title: Every Sky a Grave
Series: The Ascendance Series #1
Author: Jay Posey
Publication Date: 9th July 2020
Rating: 3 stars
I feel like this book really shouldn’t have been so much of a struggle for me. We’ve got a complex system of political rivals, a language that can be used to commune with and, ultimately, destroy planets, lots of fighting for survival and a human race terraforming the universe.
We meet Elyth just as she completes a mission by basically back-flipping and fighting her way through a series of compounds to meditate with the planet she’s on and persuade it to die (in the next year or so). But then she’s immediately recalled to The Vaunt, the place where all of the First House “grey witches” train and is met by the Paragon, no less than the leader of the First House herself. She’s immediately sent back into the field, with less than the usual preparation, to investigate the planet Quel, which seems to have something wrong with it, but no one is quite sure. There are rumours of the Strain, a corruption of the Depp Language, and Elyth is sent to uncover the truth.
When it’s summed up, it sounds pretty exciting but, for a relatively short book, I just found that it dragged. And some of that might have been my own headspace. It wouldn’t normally take me weeks to read a book like this. But it wasn’t just me …
Elyth spends the majority of the rest of the book running blindly around a small area of Quel trying to find answers to questions she doesn’t understand. And reading it felt the same way for me. There wasn’t any huge pressing motivation to understand what was going on until the last 10% of the book, and then lots happened, but didn’t really answer any of my questions.
In addition, there are two ‘balancing’ sides to the Ascendance (ie human universal civilisation); the First House and the Hezra. The Hezra seem to be more involved in planetary armies and taskforces, and dabble a little in interstellar planetary control, whilst the First House guard the secrets of the Deep Language and use them to infiltrate on a small scale.
But I have a lot of questions about both of those factions that I don’t feel were really answered. It felt like there was a lot of opportunity for both sides to unbalance the other – the Deep Language is powerful – and only seems to be restricted by the way that it’s taught, whilst there are just way more Hezra and they’re all quite military and fighty.
Likewise, the shadowy figure of eth ammuin was so … shadowy. He felt like the kind of faceless character where you just don’t know who or what he’s actually like, or what his motivation is, but he’s there with you regardless. And it’s unclear how all of that will pan out in the future.
I think sometimes I find books where the main character is basically on the run for the whole things really challenging. It means there’s never any let-up in the anxiety, which means that it becomes kind of normal, rather than peaks and troughs of excitement. And it often means that the characters are kind of shoe-horned into the action; they’re forced along and stumble into things because they are literally running from one thing to the next. And when that happens in space on a very Earth-like planet, I get a little disappointed.
In all, not a bad story, but dragged too much for my taste, or my own headspace dragged it for me. Although, obviously, love the cover.
I received an e-ARC of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.