Review: Martha Wells, The Cloud Roads and The Serpent Sea

I’m reading Martha Wells’ The Serpent Sea right now. It’s the sequel to The Cloud Roads, and, like it’s predecessor, it is an excellent read. These books are hard to capture in a review of any reasonable length. This is because they are dense, and complex, with truly amazing world building, and non-human characters who are quite genuinely alien, yet still comprehensible and sympathetic.

The characters, particularly the protagonist, Moon, are compelling and flawed and likable. Stone and Jade are also excellent. The plots are solid and fast moving. But it’s the world that…just, wow! There is a depth and breadth and sheer alienness here that I have rarely seen in any novel. Shape-shifters, flying ships, city-trees, six kazillion sentient races, floating islands, and on and on and on, and yet it isn’t too much. Every bit of it makes sense in the context of the world.

I’m normally not a big one for writing reviews, and certainly not for books I haven’t finished. But I love these books and I want them to be widely read so that Martha gets to keep writing them, and I have to read them slowly because there’s simply so much to digest and think about. So, I’m going to post this now in hopes of driving a few more people to go pick them up.

Also, since it’s always worth mentioning when speaking of Wells’ work, if you haven’t read her earlier books The Element of Fire and The Death of the Necromancer, which are among the best fantasy novels written in the last thirty years, you should go find copies and read them immediately.