Salute The Dark

By Adrian Tchaikovsky

Salute the Dark by Adrian Tchaikovsky
It's fair to say that the Shadows of the Apt series has become one of my favourites of recent years, I'm unapologetically a fan and with good cause, they're great books, complex yet easy to read, gripping and nicely paced, simultaneously thrilling and moving they are, in short, superb fantasy and Salute The Dark, the fourth in the series, keeps the same high standards as its predecessors.

We rejoin the story with the vampiric Mosquito mage, Uctebri, putting the last stages of his plan into place having finally got his hands on the Shadow Box. He plans to enact a dark ritual that the Wasp-kinden Emperor believes will grant him immortality but Uctebri's own plans are very much in favour of his own kinden.

Meanwhile Stenwold Maker, erstwhile spymaster of Collegium must see which of his allies will stand now that the war has finally arrived on his doorstep. The massed Wasp armies are on the march and this time the Empire will not stop until a black and gold flag waves over the city.

Unfortunately, following their failure to capture the Shadow Box, Stenwold's closest friends disband to wage their own battles across the world. Tisamon the Mantis Weaponsmaster takes a path that leads him to abandon his friends and his daughter, facing degradation and loss but possibly bringing him before the Wasp Emperor with a blade in his hand. His daughter Tynisa, distraught at the near-killing of the Moth, Archeos, follows her father into the heart of the Wasp capital and Che, having accompanied Archeos to the Moth-Kinden City so he can receive the medical care he needs, sets out on her own journey with former Was Rekef major Thalric for company.

Once again Tchaikovsky has wrought a magnificent tale, multi-layered, rich in texture and full of reward for the reader. I've waxed lyrical on several occasions of his talent for characterisation and flair for plot and all of these qualities are in abundance here along with pitched battles, aerial dogfights, vaguely steampunk technology and a slight dash of mysticism. The only major surprise was that the book could serve quite well as an end to the series. All of the major plot threads are brought to a close, character arcs are brought to a close in mostly satisfactory ways - although some sorrow is inevitable in the aftermath of any war - and in many ways it's hard to see what could happen next, so it's with much anticipation that I await the next installment, The Scarab Path.

If you haven't read this series yet, there's never been a better time to start, so do yourself a favour and invest in these books now, no fantasy library could be complete without them.

Salute The Dark is published by Tor through Pan Macmillan and is available from, Blackwell, and all good book stores.

There's bonus material and more information at the website.

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