Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Book Review: Conquest by John Connolly and Jennifer Ridyard

Pros: compelling story, political machinations, minor romantic elements

Cons: slow opening

Conquest takes place roughly 16 years after the Illyri, a race similar to humans, take over the Earth.  Syl, conceived among the stars and the first Illyri born on Earth, lives with her father, the governor of Britain and Ireland, in Edinburgh castle.  On her 16th birthday she and a friend sneak out of the castle and encounter two human teenagers, members of the Resistance just as a bomb goes off on the Royal Mile.  Events spiral into a series of political machinations that change the world as these 4 youths know it.

The book gets off to a slow start, as there’s a lot of background information the reader needs to know in order to follow what happens after the bombing in Edinburgh.  Once things start happening they happen fast.  By page 100 I found that I couldn’t put the book down, I was so invested in the characters and what was happening.  

While a lot of the politics happen off stage, given the ages of the protagonist, there’s still a fair amount of political maneuvering, among the humans (different resistance groups) but mainly among the Illyri (the sisterhood, the military and the diplomatic corps).  It’s the alien politics that fascinate, and I’m hoping the next book includes more information about the sisterhood.

There are a lot of SF elements borrowed from other sources, but the authors do a great job of using those elements in new ways.  The addition of a burgeoning romance between one of the humans and Syl only enhances the difficulties the two races face.  And the ending contained some great twists.

This book is more complex than humans: good, aliens: bad.  Having protagonists on both sides makes both sides partly sympathetic.  And partly not.  It’s a great start to a series.

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