Empire of Silence (Sun Eater) by Christopher Ruocchio
|Empire of Silence (Sun Eater) by Christopher Ruocchio|
|Category: Science Fiction|
|Reviewer: James Donald|
|Summary: A simply incredible epic space opera that blatantly opens itself to be compared with the Dune series and comes out well in the comparison. Compelling and enjoyable from start to finish.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 624||Date: July 2018|
|External links: Author's website|
Hadrian Marlowe sits in the distant future writing the true account of his life to add context to a tale everyone in the Empire knows already. Empire of Silence is a hero's quest but it is made clear from the start that it will not end that way. We are millennia in the future, Earth has been lost and great houses rule portions of a vast empire. Hadrian Marlowe is set to inherit one of the great houses but following some terrible news he decides upon a new path instead.
I had the same buzz reading this book that I had with Dune decades ago. There are huge similarities between this and the original grand operatic science fiction opus: both have framing devices written in the future, both drop heavy hints of things to come, both have shield belts and a fear of intelligent machines, both use great houses and a gigantic empire… and yet they feel like completely different beasts. Ruocchio builds upon the conventions set by books such as Dune and produces a world that is magical, wondrous, complicated and yet utterly accessible. Empire of Silence doesn't talk down to you but it doesn't go out of its way to confuse either.
The world building in this work is incredible. We see only a tiny portion of an enormous whole and we know the rest exists in the author's mind. Characters are introduced in exquisite detail only to be killed off, off the page. We smell, feel and experience everything. Our protagonist is no Mary Sue, Hadrian makes Peter Parker's life look blessed but he prevails. Our framing device (much like Paul's vision of jihad in Dune) paints a picture of a vicious, bloody and brutal future for our protagonist but this is not the man we meet. Our Hadrian is kind, gentle, intelligent and thoughtful. We have someone we can relate to but who is capable of great violence, when necessary.
Ruocchio creates a tale that bobs when we expect it to weave and punches when we expect a block. It deftly meets all our expectations whilst simultaneously subverting them. It is a wonderful trick that never pulls big enough shocks to make us mad but always makes sure we never quite know what is happening next. Every time we think we have a handle on the situation we shift gear and perspective. This is, in short, a stunning debut. This is an incredible novel that I took my time to truly enjoy. I feel very lucky to have taken the first step on the journey with this character and his universe.
Further reading in this genre could be found with Polity Agent by Neal Asher.
You can read more book reviews or buy Empire of Silence (Sun Eater) by Christopher Ruocchio at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Empire of Silence (Sun Eater) by Christopher Ruocchio at Amazon.com.
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