Revenger by Alistair Reynolds

Alastair Reynolds
Hachette, 411 Pages
Review: Benjamin Thomas

Pirating on the high seas: Except here the seas are leagues of space and these ships are crewed by integrators, bauble experts, and bone readers. Welcome to Alastair Reynold’s Revenger, a thrilling deep-space ride that follows two sisters, Adrana and Arafura Ness, as they sign up as part of Captain Rackamore’s crew, running from a seemingly privileged, comfortable life. Their intentions are good, as their family’s financial stability is not what it seems, however they quickly fall victim to the fact that no good deed goes unpunished.

The sisters show promise as bone readers, communicators between ships and worlds through whispers transmitted via mental channels, using skulls as relays. But when the ship is jumped – hijacked by a notorious pirate – Adrana is taken, and Arafura has to hide. In order to save her sister she is forced to shed her identity as Arafura and become Fura Ness, a thick-skinned pirate ready to do whatever it takes.

Revenger moves quickly and though I had the sensation that if I blinked I would miss something, I never thought the pacing was too fast, or that so much was happening it took away from the story. Reynolds is able to capture the tense, personal struggle and transformation that Fura goes through in the novel while never slowing down.

While the characterization, pacing, and dialogue, were all good, the tension – or lack of it – in the final third of the book left me wanting more. At several instances during the first half of the novel I found myself reading faster and faster because I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. However the last third of the book left me, while still entertained, not as antsy about what would happen when I turned the page. A minor gripe in another-wise phenomenal novel.

Revenger is a solid stand-alone work in a sub-genre that feels inundated with trilogies and series. If you want a taste of deep space adventure, but don’t want to commit to multiple books in order to complete the story arc, I strongly recommending picking this one off the shelf.