Book Reviews, Science Fiction

Review: Lords of Uncreation by Adrian Tchaikovsky

He’s found a way to end their war, but will humanity survive to see it?

Idris Telemmier has uncovered a secret that changes everything – the Architects’ greatest weakness. A shadowy Cartel scrambles to turn his discovery into a weapon against these alien destroyers of worlds. But between them and victory stands self-interest. The galaxy’s great powers would rather pursue their own agendas than stand together against this shared terror. Human and inhuman interests wrestle to control Idris’ discovery, as the galaxy erupts into a mutually destructive and self-defeating war.

The other great obstacle to striking against their alien threat is Idris himself. He knows that the Architects, despite their power, are merely tools of a higher intelligence. Deep within unspace, where time moves differently, and reality isn’t quite what it seems, their masters are the true threat. Masters who are just becoming aware of humanity’s daring – and taking steps to exterminate this annoyance forever.

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

This is the third book in a series, and though the review will be spoiler-free for this title, it will definitely include spoilers for the earlier books: Shards of Earth and Eyes of the Void.

Another trilogy conclusion, and I was nervously excited to embark on it given that I loved the first book but wasn’t very impressed by the second. I trust Adrian Tchaikovsky though, and was willing to give the series a second chance to see whether the grand finale made up for its middle book. I will tell you upfront that it certainly did! What gripped me the most in Shards of Earth was the cast of characters and the slow but steady reveal of what the Architects are capable and that they are not the ones choosing to attack and destroy planets. I was dying to know what greater force could be behind something that is already the size of a moon, and was hoping for more answers from Eyes of the Void. The fact that any other discoveries were skirted around in that book was the main source of my frustration, but I also struggled with the way the main crew of the scavenger ship Vulture God were split up. Having now read Lords of Uncreation I can see how a lot of what was done in book two was necessary, but I still think it suffered a bit too much from middle-book syndrome.

But anyway, onwards to what I actually thought of this conclusion! After uncovering the plot of a Nativist group to save only a select few of “pure” humans from Architect attacks to build a new civilisation on arc-ships, a coalition of humans, Partheni, Essiel, and Hivers was formed to repurpose these ships for general rescue and to find a way to attack the Architects on their own turf. The only problem is that their turf happens to be Unspace, the place between things where nothing actually exists while it is there. The only hope they have is to use the only functioning bit of Originator technology ever discovered to bring a bubble of the real into Unspace and destroy their enemy.

Idris Telemmier, one of the last surviving Ints from the first war with the Architects, is a key to this endeavour, but he has his own plans. His modified brain allows him to reach out and touch the mind of an Architect, and he knows that what they do to the planets they destroy is forced upon them, that they are simply slaves to some greater master. Since no one else seems to think it worth trying to find these masters, Idris is scouring Unspace for them in secret. But though this complex research is being supported by factions of multiple species and would benefit the entire universe, there are still those who will see it all burn to regain power and control of the generation ships and research station. As frustrating as it was, it’s depressingly realistic to see politicians and oligarchs causing conflict and sacrificing the majority just for the sake of keeping their status.

The tension that came from the political side of things was an interesting contrast to the tensions within the small team trying to kill the Architects, and upped the stakes because Idris and his fellow Ints are suddenly racing not only against these destructive beings, but also fleeing those who would try to sabotage them. And it showed the ways in which life and conflict carries on even outside the bubble of those trying to save the world, which isn’t always something I see in these kinds of stories. The other thing I absolutely loved was the way Tchaikovsky kept upping the stakes, cracking open the very nature of the universe, and the ending wouldn’t leave me for days after I’d finished it. I am a big fan of existential sci-fi stories and this was done very well.

It’s hard to talk about too much else without spoiling the twists and turns of the plot, but I will say that the great universal-truth reveals that we get in Lords of Uncreation were incredibly satisfying and what I have been waiting for since reading Shards of Earth two years ago, and that I really enjoyed the development of the characters, especially Idris, Olli, and Havaer. Idris has been alive for about a century, never ageing or sleeping, and though that made being in his point of view very depressing at times, I loved seeing him in the Unspace sequences where the strength of his mind could take control and he didn’t have to deal with his physicality or his emotions. Olli, the disabled machine specialist and captain of the Vulture God, is the character that grew on me the most throughout the series, and the way her story ends up entwined with the mysterious Essiel was a really cool element that brought in extra world-building and upped the tension. And Havaer has interested me from the start, because he gives an insight into the nature of the ever-shifting politics and I enjoyed his calm presence and his heroics.

Though the story has ended with Lords of Uncreation I could see the author doing other stories within the same universe, because there is so much left to discover, and I would definitely read a spin-off about Olli and her Essiel escapades, because I want to know more about these weird clam-aliens and what they actually think of the world. But overall I enjoyed the way everything was wrapped up, and I recommend the entire Final Architecture series for anyone looking for some epic space opera.

Book Info

Published: 27th April 2023 by Tor
Genre: science fiction
Pages: 624
Series: The Final Architecture, book three
Narration style: third person past tense, multiple points of view
Format read: eARC
Content Warnings: death, slavery, xenophobia, mass killings

1 thought on “Review: Lords of Uncreation by Adrian Tchaikovsky”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s