No Present Like Time – Steph Swainston

Note: This one was written quite a long time ago – certainly more than a year – but I never got around to publishing it anywhere. Maybe I would write it differently now, or maybe not. Anyway, I thought that it might be of interest to some, while I’m trying to find the time to finish and review Blue Remembered Earth by Alastair Reynolds.

I’ve already reviewed one book by Steph Swainston – the first part of her Castle series, consisting of four published titles (and another one to come): The Year of Our War, No Present Like Time, The Modern World and Above the Snowline. Here is a link to the text, which is in Bulgarian. If you are already familiar with the setting of the series, you can skip the following two paragraphs. If not, I will try to outline briefly the world of the Fourlands, because worldbuilding is certainly one of Swainston’s greatest fortes. The story takes place on a small continent (or a big island, depending on the point of view, I guess), partitioned territorially by the four nations living on it. In this case we can even speak about distinct human species, as the Awians in the north are winged (although flightless) people with hollow bones and the Rhydanne inhabiting the Darkling mountains are also strinkingly different with their thinner, longer limbs and superhuman speed and agility, not to mention their ferocity and seemingly pathological individualism. Continue reading

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