Book Reviews, Science Fiction

Review: Eyes of the Void by Adrian Tchaikovsky

What waits in the shadows as we fight our greatest foe?

After one great battle, the Architects disappeared. Yet humanity’s fragile peace is brief. For, forty years later, the galaxy’s greatest alien enemy has returned. This time, the artefacts that preserved entire worlds from destruction are ineffective. And no planet is safe. The Human Colony worlds are in turmoil as they face extinction. Some believe alliances with other species can save them. Others insist humanity must fight alone. But no one has the firepower or technology to ensure victory, as the Architects loom ever closer.

Idris spent decades running from the last war’s horrors. Yet as an Intermediary, altered to navigate deep space, he’s one of humanity’s only weapons. He’s therefore forced back into action. With a handful of allies, Idris must find something – anything – to stop the Architects’ pitiless advance. But to do so, he must return to the nightmare of unspace, where his mind was broken and remade. What he discovers there will change everything.

Thank you to NetGalley and Tor for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.

This review will contain spoilers for book one in the series.

Almost exactly a year ago, I read and reviewed Shards of Earth, the first book in the Final Architects series and have been eagerly awaiting its sequel since then. Adrian Tchaikovsky is the reason I started reading sci-fi so I am always keen for his works. Sadly, this time he didn’t quite meet my expectations and I didn’t find myself satisfied by this book like I was by the first one. In book one, as well as the brilliant characters and the various alien species that mingle with humanity, there is the exquisite mystery of the Architects, the giant beings that appear out of nowhere and reshape planets to their will. I loved the slow discovery of these vast creatures, and to find out at the end (spoilers) that they are being controlled by some other power was something I loved! More mystery! I had my theories, and it’s been something I’ve wondered about quite often over the course of the year. That, and thinking about the great presence that lives in the Void, which was another aspect I loved.

What I think happened with Eyes of the Void is that it was both too much of the same and too slow. The book opens with another planet being destroyed by the Architects, this one a Hegemony planet, run by clam-like aliens that have, up until this moment, been able to repel any attacks with ancient technology. The Architects have found a way around this, though, and news spreads throughout the universe that nowhere is safe. This leads to Idris and his crew being invited to Arc Pallator, another Hegemonic planet under siege by an Architect; because of how many of the Originator ruins they have, it has slowed the Architect so much that researchers are able to observe the creature as it interacts with the planet. This was very cool, and a perfect chance to learn more about the history of this universe as well as the different factions, both human and alien, and the tensions that run between them.

Idris, with his modified brain, is able to sense the Architect in a unique way, and I was looking forward to bigger revelations during the scenes on Arc Pallator, but it ended up mostly building the tension between the Nativist (those who believe all modified humans are race-traitors) and the Parthenon (genetically grown warrior women). And when Idris did learn something, he only ever hinted at things and then got distracted by the conflict around him. This keeps happening throughout the book, right until the very end when the climactic discovery ended up being a disappointment to me.

I will say that Eyes of the Void does a lot more to develop the alien species present in this series, and I did really enjoy that. It’s one of my favourite things about Tchaikovsky’s writing, and he seems to have an endless imagination for that sort of thing. And, to make up for the Architects’ mystery being kept vague, there was some cool conspiracy stuff going on that I enjoyed. I also liked that some of the side characters of book one filled out a lot more in this second book, especially Olli; I didn’t like her much in Shards of Earth but she really grew on me this time as she took on a bigger role within the group and in the action. Funnily enough, the two characters I loved in the first book – Idris and Solace – ended up getting on my nerves this time around!

I really wanted to love this book after waiting so long for it, but sadly it just didn’t stand out for me, perhaps through a combination of being the middle book, being overly hyped up in my mind, and the fact that I read it right after I finished Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey, which I am currently obsessed with. I will definitely still pick up the next instalment because I still need to know and Tchaikovsky always writes very well so even his less-enjoyable works are still good.

Book Info

Published: 28th April 2022 by Pan Macmillan
Genre: science fiction
Pages: 608
Series: The Final Architects, book two
Narration style: third person, past tense, multiple points of view
Format read: eARC
Content Warnings: death, violence, racism, suicidal thoughts

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