The Weight of the World (The Amaranthine Spectrum) by Tom Toner

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The Weight of the World (The Amaranthine Spectrum) by Tom Toner

Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sean Barrs
Reviewed by Sean Barrs
Summary: This is the second book in a hugely ambitious science fiction series, and, like the first book, the action is layered upon lots of intertwining stories of ancient humans and other interesting races.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 496 Date: February 2017
Publisher: Gollancz
ISBN: 978-1473211391

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One thing great science fiction needs is solid world building. When I pick up a book like this, I need to imagine that the universe has existed before the plot has started and will continue to do so after: it needs a strong sense of history and future. With this book, and series, I feel like I have just had a brief glimpse into something much larger. A great deal happens in the plot, but even more is happening, and has happened, across the Firmament.

Indeed, this picks up right directly where the first book The Promise of the Child left off, and builds upon the already established history of this vast space opera series. There are many factions and races all under the thumb of a mighty race of immortals called the Amaranthine. They've lived for thousands of years, and have ruled for almost as long. Their oldest member becomes the head of state, though with such advanced age also comes insanity and a sense of detachment from the affairs of mortals. Such a ruler could only ever be problematic, so all the other races have become restless and frustrated under such absent and cruel leadership; they want change, and they are more than willing to fight for it. And this is where the novel begins to feel dystopian as yet another war for freedom begins to brew across the stars.

There are a large number of characters in here. Each views the war through a different pair of eyes; thus we see glimpses, glimpses that together create an image of an impending crisis. Sotiris, the newly appointed leader of the Amaranthine, is trying to hold the pieces of a crumbling empire together. Lycaste, a once reclusive artist, may hold the secret to helping his friend succeed against the incoming waves of enemies. Both men are being manipulated, however indirectly, by a mysterious figure called Aaron the Longlife, whose unclear motives kept me wondering who has the real power here.

The story also shifts back in time, relaying events that happened long ago. The significance of them is yet to be revealed as they provide yet another mystery that complicates this universe. As the story progresses, the significance of the child born at the end of the last book is expanded upon. Again the child's purpose is far from clear or concrete; however, what we do know that the child will play an immeasurable part in things to come as its destiny begins to unfold. Despite this being the second book in the series, it is still just the beginning. So far this series has been highly imaginative, and I really am looking forward to seeing how far this imagination stretches.

If you've not read the first book in the series, then don't even think about picking this up. Due to the complex nature of the plot and sub-plots, plots that can only be enjoyed by constant reference to the intensive glossary, I only recommend this to returning readers. But that's not exactly a bad thing. Toner builds upon his previously established universe, and with his eloquent prose he makes it seem just as beautiful the second time around. This is another good book in the series, but it really needs intensive knowledge of the first for it to be appreciated. This really isn't a series to dip in and out of.

The real talent of Toner resides in his ability to shift narrative point of views so smoothly. He juggles the sheer multitude of these characters' lives with deliberate efficiency. So I recommend this series to those that have enjoyed other complex science fiction books such as The Algebraist by Iain M Banks and The Reliquary Ring by Cherith Baldry. Overall, though, this is an excellent second installment in the series.

Buy The Weight of the World (The Amaranthine Spectrum) by Tom Toner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Weight of the World (The Amaranthine Spectrum) by Tom Toner at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Weight of the World (The Amaranthine Spectrum) by Tom Toner at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Weight of the World (The Amaranthine Spectrum) by Tom Toner at Amazon.com.


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