Science fiction and fantasy                                            

Night's Engines

by Trent Jamieson


Night's Engines is the sequel to Roil, and it's a case of the barbarians at the gate as darkness closes in on civilisation on the world of Shale. David and Margaret seem to be the only ones with a fighting chance of saving the world from the threat of the Roilings. They're heading north towards the Engine of the World, a weapon of last resort. They have been warned that using it would be madness, and that like all last resorts its use comes at a high price.

Cadell, an Old Man, has chosen David to carry on his legacy. However he wasn't the only one of his kind, and there's something vampiric about their breed. The other Old Men disagree with Cadell's plan, so they're hunting David and Margaret down to ensure it never comes to fruition. They're always hungry, and so hard to kill that they seem practically immortal.

Meanwhile the Aerokin pilot Kara Jade is in the doghouse with her people's leaders, who are known as the Mothers of the Sky. They want to retrieve the ring that controls the Engine. Up in their floating fortress they feel safer from the Roil's advance, but a mild winter has allowed Roil spores to spread and even the sky is getting choked up. We're not told much about the way Aerokin look from the outside, but our view of their interiors is vivid.

This seems like a very science fictional story with alien lifeforms, high technology and quasi-vampires. However what it reminded me of most was The Lord of the Rings. Both tales have a cursed ringbearer, a quest up a formidable mountain, and allies who may turn against the main characters. Both Frodo and David are hunted at every turn, and both seem to be the least likely candidates for a heroic role. David is an addict, and not much of a fighter. As Cadell's ring exerts its influence on him he becomes less and less like himself, and he has to struggle to retain his own identity.

The feisty Margaret and the strange, conflicted David are characters that work well together in this fast-paced, exciting adventure. However the conclusion was not at all like I expected. It's a more confusing ending than I thought was being set up, if it's an ending at all. I liked that: Trent Jamieson has gone beyond a simple morality quest about good versus evil, finding courage and repelling the barbarians at the gate. Instead the author has produced something richer and much more thoughtful. This is the kind of book that will repay multiple re-readings.

29th May 2012

Book Details

Year: 2012

Categories: Books

  Science fiction

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