I knew Emily Tesh is a talented author, as I’d read and enjoyed her novella Silver in the Wood – see my mini-review. And when I spotted this offering on the Netgalley dashboard, I immediately requested it, hoping for something special. And I wasn’t disappointed. In fact I was completely blown away…
BLURB: While we live, the enemy shall fear us.
All her life Kyr has trained for the day she can avenge the murder of planet Earth. Raised in the bowels of Gaea Station alongside the last scraps of humanity, she readies herself to face the Wisdom, the all-powerful, reality-shaping weapon that gave the Majoda their victory over humanity.
They are what’s left. They are what must survive. Kyr is one of the best warriors of her generation, the sword of a dead planet. But when Command assigns her brother to certain death and relegates her to the nursery to bear sons until she dies trying, she knows she must take humanity’s revenge into her own hands.
Alongside her brother’s brilliant but seditious friend and a lonely, captive alien, she escapes from everything she’s ever known into a universe far more complicated than she was taught and far more wondrous than she could have imagined.
REVIEW: For those of you who are interested in such things, the title of this science fiction timeshift adventure is taken from Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ describing a gas attack in WWI in terrible detail. The final four lines read thus:
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.
It’s a wonderful poem, I urge you to look it up if you don’t know it. And the subject matter and sentiment is absolutely spot on for the tenor of this story.
Gaea Station is one of the final holdouts for humanity that remains true to our species, now our home planet has been blown up by the alien’s sentient governing A.I., the Wisdom. Although there are traitors who have thrown in their lot with the majo who are responsible for killing fourteen billion human beings, Gaea is still raising children with the warbreed genetic strain. So they are bigger, faster, deadlier than the average human and committed to revenging themselves upon those who destroyed our world and its military might. And one of the most committed and loyal is Kyr, who is determined to serve by training the hardest. After all, she has a point to prove – her elder sister fled the station in a disgraceful act of disloyalty. This is where Kyr is at the start of the book.
And from then on, she finds herself confronted with nasty truths that increasingly undermine this version of her life and her ultimate aims. It forces her to act in ways that would have been unthinkable only a short time previously… And yes – this is familiar and oft-trodden territory for sci fi space opera adventures. But rarely have I seen it done so well. While Kyr is a teenager, I really like how her sexuality is handled. It makes perfect sense that she is so incredibly committed, she has locked down her aberrant sexual desires. For starters, like every other youngster on the station, she is malnourished and worked incredibly hard. She doesn’t have the time or inclination to start wondering why she isn’t remotely attracted to any of the boys and men training alongside her – other than to feel resentment at their inbuilt extra strength. This is a refreshing change from so many books dealing with youngsters in dire circumstances, where they constantly are examining and acting on their sexual desires, no matter the dangers they are being exposed to.
The other characters are also vividly portrayed with perception and depth, so I found myself rooting even for obnoxiously clever Avi, who does something terrible. The storytelling is fabulous – the descriptions of the station and the nearest planet are wonderful and this book reminded me all over again just why I LOVE science fiction so much! My one sorrow… it’s a standalone, so I won’t have another slice of this world through the eyes of Kyr. Very highly recommended for fans of superb science fiction adventure. While I obtained an arc of Some Desperate Glory from the publishers via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.