Hello, everyone! I’m excited to finally be reviewing Eyes of the Void by Adrian Tchaikovsky. I enjoyed the first book in The Final Architecture series. So, I was really looking forward to reading this sequel. I’ve been a bit behind on my ARC reviews, and I was hoping to get to this one earlier. I kept putting it off because I knew it was going to be chonky and super dense (but in a good way). It took almost a whole week of reading, which is a long time to spend on one book for me, but I’ve finally finished it!
The Arthur C. Clarke award-winning author of Children of Time brings us the second novel in an extraordinary space opera trilogy about humanity on the brink of extinction, and how one man’s discovery will save or destroy us all. After eighty years of fragile peace, the Architects are back, wreaking havoc as they consume entire planets. In the past, Originator artefacts – vestiges of a long-vanished civilization – could save a world from annihilation. This time, the Architects have discovered a way to circumvent these protective relics. Suddenly, no planet is safe.
Facing impending extinction, the Human Colonies are in turmoil. While some believe a unified front is the only way to stop the Architects, others insist humanity should fight alone. And there are those who would seek to benefit from the fractured politics of war – even as the Architects loom ever closer.
Idris, who has spent decades running from the horrors of his past, finds himself thrust back onto the battlefront. As an Intermediary, he could be one of the few to turn the tide of war. With a handful of allies, he searches for a weapon that could push back the Architects and save the galaxy. But to do so, he must return to the nightmarish unspace, where his mind was broken and remade.
What Idris discovers there will change everything.
***Thank you to NetGalley and Orbit Books for providing a copy of the book. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience. NOTE: This review contains some spoilers for book one of the series. If you haven’t read it yet, read on at your own peril.***
The ending of the first book in this trilogy left things in a very precarious place. The factions of humanity were on a knife’s edge teetering on the precipice of all out war. The world-destroying race of Architects was back and wreaking havoc at a rapid pace. Even the worlds previously protected by the revered clam overlords, the Essiel, now seemed threatened with destruction since the ancient artifacts they used as a shield didn’t seem to be a deterrent anymore. This book builds on all of these tensions in some pretty explosive ways. Will humanity come together, along with all the other species, to confront the common threat? Or will they splinter and destroy each other before the Architects get the chance? I’m not going to answer that question, but I will say that the politics and motivations explored by the author were fascinating to follow and provided interesting thought experiments that mirrored some relevant real-world situations.
The world-building in these books is truly an amazing feat of imagination. All the different locales and alien races were so much fun to read, even if things did get a bit dense at times. The mysteries of the Architects, Originators, and unspace were all heavily explored. The few answers this book gave just opened up even more questions, and it all has me really excited to see the direction that the third, and final, book takes. While interesting, some of the exploration of these concepts felt a bit too abstract for my taste, especially the information about unspace. There was also quite a lot of repetition in the way unspace was described throughout the book, and I got tired of it pretty quickly. For example, I lost count of the number of long-winded reminders of unspace not being real space. Despite these hiccups, the sheer amount of information about this universe and its inhabitants subtly weaved into the narrative was mind-boggling, and I found myself completely absorbed in it more often than not.
All of the characters were back for this sequel, which made me really happy. They make such a great team with all their VERY different personalities. The exploration into Idris’s psyche and what it meant to be an Int was quite fascinating. He had a lot to come to terms with in this novel, and I found his journey of accepting his prominent role in shaping the future of the universe to be a compelling one. I also really loved that Kris was given a bit more of the spotlight in this one. It allowed her skills as a lawyer and a fighter to be showcased, as well as some inner conflict about her instincts and her past. Most of the rest of the cast felt a bit static in comparison, but I didn’t mind because I just legitimately like this group of characters so much. Many of them did have subtle arcs, as well, but they just didn’t get the same spotlight that Idris and Kris seemed to get in terms of growth, which I think was mostly a by-product of having so many characters and POVs alongside the heavy focus on all the mysteries and conflicts.
Overall, I really loved this book. The mysteries, exquisite world-building, tense politics, and stellar cast of characters came together to create something truly unforgettable. I’m definitely looking forward to the conclusion. Idris and the rest of the characters have some huge, universe-altering decisions to make, and I’m curious to see what they will do with the information they learned at the end of the book. I rate this book 4 out of 5 giant clam overlords. 🙂