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The Arthur C. Clarke award-winning author of Children of Time brings us an extraordinary space opera about humanity on the brink of extinction, and how one man's discovery will save or destroy us all.

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . .

Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade him in the war. And one of humanity's heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.

After earth was destroyed, mankind created a fighting elite to save their species, enhanced humans such as Idris. In the silence of space they could communicate, mind-to-mind, with the enemy. Then their alien aggressors, the Architects, simply disappeared—and Idris and his kind became obsolete.

Now, fifty years later, Idris and his crew have discovered something strange abandoned in space. It's clearly the work of the Architects—but are they returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy hunting for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, that many would kill to obtain.


First published August 3, 2021

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About the author

Adrian Tchaikovsky

161 books10.7k followers
ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY was born in Lincolnshire and studied zoology and psychology at Reading, before practising law in Leeds. He is a keen live role-player and occasional amateur actor and is trained in stage-fighting. His literary influences include Gene Wolfe, Mervyn Peake, China Miéville, Mary Gently, Steven Erikson, Naomi Novak, Scott Lynch and Alan Campbell.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,820 reviews
Profile Image for carol..
1,566 reviews8,210 followers
August 6, 2021
Sooner or later, Adrian Tchaikovsky is going to make me learn to spell his name. His output rivals Sanderson's, but his willingness to explore more worlds, without the same meticulous detail that tends to bog down other authors, makes him fascinating to me. Children of Time was one of my favorite books of 2020, and while Shards of Earth doesn't rival it, I found it  compelling. 

An exceptionally long 'Prologue' is the lynchpin between two characters that we will follow the rest of the book. It begins: "In the seventy-eighth year of the war, an Architect came to Berlenhof." Tchaikovsky is generally of the immersion school of sci-fi; he will give you the details, but you need to assemble the pieces, and the Prologue is no exception. There's a lot of ideas dropped here, but the main one is that the unfightable and unknowable Architects are remodeling life as they encounter it, and to date, no one has been able to establish contact. This moment in time will be pivotal, and both Solace and Idris Telemmier will play major roles. Solace is a soldier in the Heaven's Sword Sorority, "the Parthenon. Humans, for a given value of human. The engineered warrior women who had been the Colonies' shield ever since the fall of Earth." Idris is a Colonial and part of the newest 'weapon' deployed against the Architects.

The Prologue is a meaty piece of sci-fi, and I confess, after investing in it, I wanted it to continue. It was a version of The Expanse, tv show), space battle style, with human players against crushing odds in a complicated and only partially understood universe. Unfortunately, as the Prologue ends we get foreshadowing that the investment in world-building is about to pay uncertain dividends: "Thirty-nine years after that, they woke Solace from cold storage one more time and said her warrior skills were needed." Thus the epic space battle turns into a new book, that of a contentious crew of salvagers caught up in galactic events.

If you've followed me more than a few minutes, you know I've been on a sci-fi binge, and the crew-of-misfits in space seems to be one that I gravitate to. Between The Expanse (the show!!) and Suzanne Palmer's Finder series, I've been enjoying the outer reaches of the galaxy, at least after humanity has solved that pesky distance-spanning/lifespan issue. So when I say the rest of the story felt largely familiar, I'm not meaning any insult--it's a subgenre I like. I did hope that Tchaikovsky would bring some of his particular ingenuity, specifically aliens and lifeforms that felt alien, to his version of misfits-in-space. Sadly, it was only near the end where I felt a little bit of that mental frission when I encounter something unique. 

The odd-ball crew of seven contains two alien lifeforms and members of humanity from different Colonies, giving a glimpse into potential alien and cultural weirdness, particularly with Kittering, "a crab-like alien," and Medvig, "an intelligence distributed across a knot of cyborg roaches." Unfortunately, Tchaikovsky is willing to break genre rules about red-shirts, which means that the reader may reach out and connect with the different characters, but that experience may be cut short. Considering that this is the first book in what is presumably a series/trilogy, willingness to remove characters felt like an impediment to reader engagement. Contrast with The Expanse, which created a diverse group of people for the reader/audience engagement and took books to remove traces of their influence if they were removed from the story.

I'll also note there were a couple parts where I felt we were getting a little more fantasy than sci-fi, stretching the realm of genre rules (much like the proto-molecule), so take that for what you will. There's a bit about space travel and the unseen which is supposed to stand in for light speed/warp/etc and occasionally seems more mystical than science (don't argue with me: I know science at that level is mystical. Read this and you'll see what I mean). Reminded me of Anne McCaffery's The Rowan, published in 1990.

On the whole, it was engrossing, literally keeping my focus for four hours of a flight. That deserves a bonus all on it's own.

Many, many thanks to both Netgalley and Orbit for the advance reader copy. Of course all opinions are my own--you ever know me to be a mouthpiece for someone else? Also, of course, all quotes are subject to change. 
Profile Image for Nataliya.
781 reviews12.4k followers
May 4, 2022
2022 BSFA (British Science Fiction Award) winner for Best Novel!
“He was the mote in the mind of God, lost in that labyrinth of mirrors and moving parts.”
No matter what else he writes, Adrian Tchaikovsky will always be known as that guy who wrote about intelligent space spiders in a way that would make even the staunchest arachnophobe root for the crawlies. Well, you’ll be glad to hear that even in this very different space opera/ misfits-space-crew-adventure he still goes for non-humanoid aliens, from kinda-crabs to kinda-clamshells to grafted insectoids to kinda-space worms — to moon-sized worlds-reshaping* artistically inclined “Architects”. The guy can do weird, and do it well.
* Case in point: space flower sculpture formerly known as Earth:

“Earth would always be the same now. Earth was like a flower, forever turned towards the sun. An alien flower whose exemplar might grow in some fecund jungle on a distant world. A thing of creepers and reaching shoots, something more than vegetable, less than animal. Earth’s mantle and crust had been peeled back, like petals whose tips formed spiralling tendrils a thousand kilometres long. The planet’s core had gouted forth into yearning, reaching shapes, formed into rings and whorls, arches, curved arms… A hundred separate processes shaped from the living core of the planet as it writhed and twisted, then was left to cool. A flower twenty thousand kilometres across, splayed forever in full bloom; a memorial to ten billion people who hadn’t made it to the ships in time.”

I love the stories centered on a crew of misfits that form a found family. Misfits in space is even better. There’s something inherently appealing about a ragtag bunch of underdogs on an old but trusty ship that have bonded over years of shared adventures, taking on the world that doesn’t always treat them gently — especially if it also happens to be set in the well-done space opera expanse with its version of faster-than-light travel to a bunch of inhabited worlds and - of course - a looming threat to existence as we know it.
“My newfound surrogate daughter, you do realize we are a crummy little salvage operation here? We are not going to be fighting any star battles while I’m captain.”

Yeah, suuuuuuuuuure you won’t…

It’s definitely has that classic SF feel about it that I loved about Children of Time as well — and it would hold its own against the classics of the genre, being good enough to join that elite club. It may tread the ground already familiar, but in a way that still leaves it fresh and engaging and riveting. You do not need to subvert genre conventions to be memorable and good — but you gotta do more than just coast on the support of genre tropes, and Tchaikovsky does that “more” by being true to his form quite excellent.
“There was a future out there, and it was a terrible one. It included war and whole planets dying in the shadow of Architects. They were living in a fractured galaxy and it must come together, or it would fall into darkness one star at a time.”

(Image credit to hipydeus)

And as always with Tchaikovsky, the worldbuilding - that absolutely essential part of a good SF story - is exquisite and does not rely on countless infodumps but rather dropping you smack in the middle of a huge space battle scene and leaving just enough clues to work things out, trusting that you will catch on quickly. And a bit of politics. And a bit of post-war Balkanization of human space diaspora. And a bit of war. And a bit of space gangsters. And clashes between striving for freedom and perceived duty. And it’s all fun and suspenseful and very much engaging while still very thoughtful and clever, as is customary for Tchaikovsky.

I do love the idea of Unspace as a means of faster-than-light dangerous intra-universe travel. It reminded me of the “immer” in Miéville’s amazing Embassytown - an “unreal” space that only a select few can pilot through, with something(s) that just may lurk out there — and may just choose to reach out and tap you on the shoulder when you least expect it.
“Idris Telemmier reached out into the solitary infinite, like a man feeling for some precious dropped object in a dark room. And somewhere in that sightless expanse, he felt something was reaching back to seize his hand and pull.”

Oh yeah, and it you detest cliffhangers as much as I do, don’t worry — this does not end in one despite being billed as a series opener. It’s a complete book, and although there’s more story to come, it ends at a perfectly satisfying place and is a good standalone.

4.5 stars. It’s a gem. I may not want to visit the mind of an Architect, but I’m happy to take a vacation in the mind of Adrian Tchaikovsky.
“I made a judgement call.”
“A bad one.”
He nodded. “The problem with judgement calls is that they’re only ever good or bad in retrospect.”


My review of the excellent sequel, Eyes of the Void, is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...


Also posted on my blog.
Profile Image for Gerhard.
1,076 reviews549 followers
May 15, 2021
This is hands-down one of the best SF space operas I have read in a long, long time. I recently finished ‘To Sleep in a Sea of Stars’ by Christopher Paolini, which makes for an interesting comparison, as both recycle a lot of the well-known tropes of this particular sub-genre.

The one in the Tchaikovsky book I really do not have any fondness for is the concept of ‘unspace’, a kind of Lovecraftian hyperspeed realm inhabited by weird looming entities barely aware of our existence, but that are likely to induce instant madness if they ever turn their cosmic gaze on us poor human spacefarers.

The difference between Paolini and Tchaikovsky as writers is how the latter tackles this particular trope: It becomes an integral part of the nature and reality of the alien Architects, described in the Glossary as “moon-sized entities that can reshape populated planets and ships”. Yes, I am sure the Death Star reference is deliberate, while the Psychic Intermediaries (Ints) is an equally deliberate nod to the Guild Navigators of Dune.

Paolini simply has a tick-list of genre tropes that he dutifully runs through in ‘To Sleep in a Sea of Stars’, which really does not justify its length and rambles on for just one space battle too many. Yes, ‘Shards of Earth’ is also a monster of a book (in various meanings of that phrase), but I was never bored once or even found my attention wandering.

And despite this being the opener in a series, the ending is truly delightful and quite self-contained (as opposed to wanting to hurl your reading device at a wall in frustration, as is so often the case with SF series that end inconclusively as a kind of hook to get you to read the next, and the next…)

Tchaikovsky is one of the best writers of alien species and cultures out there, and ‘Shards of Earth’ is chockablock with some of the weirdest creatures I have ever encountered in SF. These are not the cutesy ugly-but-lovable ones that tend to crowd the Star Wars universe, or the endlessly humanoid variants of Star Trek, bar a few extra bumps on the forehead, nose or a different skin colour … Tchaikovsky’s aliens have a kind of baroque weirdness and gothic grandeur that renders them both inscrutable and utterly fascinating.

What I also respect about Tchaikovsky is that he does not spoon feed the reader. You really have to work at the beginning of this book to ‘get it’. But once you have a basic grasp of the intricacies of the narrative set-up, the reader is in for a truly wild ride that consistently surprises and amazes.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,100 followers
November 25, 2021
So, fanboy here. I've gotta sit down for a moment and tell you something rather important.

This is a freaking awesome space opera, ya'll.

It starts out with an amazing bang-up interstellar battle and ends with one, and every step of the way, in-between, is a gloriously fascinating tale that is parts Becky Chambers-quality characterization, part David Brin Uplift War worldbuilding, and every bit as exciting and vast as Christopher Paolini's To Sleep In a Sea of Stars.

High praise? Indeed. And it comes from an author who consistently writes some of the very best, most original SF in the past decade, without even counting THIS book.

So, is he a superstar? Well, to me, he is. That's why I've sat you down for this little talk to add one little extra bit:

If you haven't read this guy, then WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?

'Nuff said.

Prepare yourself for a massive head-trip across the stars, dealing with massively incomprehensible god-like aliens that are only partially in our 3D space, who like to transform civilized worlds into ART PROJECTS.


Profile Image for Nick Borrelli.
376 reviews381 followers
June 1, 2021
Adrian Tchaikovsky has really moved up the ladder for me in the pantheon of great space opera writers. In fact, only the legendary Iain M. Banks ranks above him in my hall of fame of SO authors. But if he keeps writing books like Children of Time, Children of Ruin, and now SHARDS OF EARTH, Banks may be in some serious jeopardy of losing his #1 position. It's also important to mention that Tchaikovsky is an immensely accomplished fantasy author as well.

The thing that I especially love about Adrian Tchaikovsky's books is he always injects a compelling mystery as the focal point of his stories. So not only do you get the mind-blowing science and futuristic technology, but there's also an incredibly intriguing story that keeps you turning the pages to get to the heart of the central mystery. Oh and he never disappoints when it comes to providing one heck of a stunning surprise or two along the way.

SHARDS OF EARTH involves a number of different players that contribute to the depth and beautiful complexity of the overall story. You have humans who have been scattered after a decades old attack on Earth. You also have bio-engineered super humans designed to communicate telepathically with the enigmatic enemy, The Architects, who seemingly appear and disappear without warning. Not to mention other factions like nativists and the even more radical Betrayed, who believe only pure humans are superior and anyone else should be treated with the utmost suspicion and disdain. So there's a lot going on here!

The book really kicks into high gear when a salvage vessel stumbles across something unthinkable floating in Unspace. The discovery causes old fears and questions to arise that maybe the long dormant Architects have once again returned. The ramifications of this possibility could be cataclysmic for what is left of humanity and their allies. But for what reason and purpose have they come back, if indeed they have? This is where SHARDS OF EARTH goes from good to an absolutely breathtaking level and it had me utterly spellbound.

These are the coolest stories in my opinion, especially when it comes to SF. I always find myself sucked into a book that engages me right off the bat with mysterious artifacts or some sort of alien species that eludes discovery but leaves subtle clues as to their origin. It's why I love Jack McDevitt's books and others that explore similar themes. Tchaikovsky has created a superb one here with The Architects, and the nuggets that he feeds you slowly really build the tension for what is to come, both in this book, and future ones to follow.

In addition to The Architects story angle, there is also a fascinating one dealing with political and social clashes with regard to the various factions that I mentioned at the beginning of the review. Much of it stems from what happened to humans after The Architects attacked and how prejudices have gradually developed as a result. It's a keen nod (whether it be intentional or not) to how radicalism can also creep in and poison our own society in today's world.

Just a quick warning, Tchaikovsky never spoon-feeds his readers. There are a ton of high-concept ideas, intricate technology, and moments of real hard science here as well. This isn't a light popcorn SF read by any stretch of the imagination. So concentration (especially in the opening chapters) is essential for getting the most out of this book. But if you do invest the time and attention required, I promise that you will be rewarded, as by the end I was astonished at how brilliantly everything came together and set things up for what should be an amazing sequel.

SHARDS OF EARTH is another outstanding space opera from a real master in Adrian Tchaikovsky. I'm dejected that I don't have the next book in my hands, but I take heart in knowing that the groundwork has been laid for what could be an unforgettable landmark SF series. I'm constantly amazed at how Tchaikovsky keeps churning out these mind-blowing epic stories in so short a time period. The first book in The Final Architects series is just the latest sparkling jewel from an author with a firm grasp on his craft. SF readers across the globe should gobble this one up with much delight.
Profile Image for La Crosse County Library.
571 reviews158 followers
October 13, 2022
4.5 stars/5 stars

Try as I might, I can’t help but be entranced by Adrian Tchaikovsky’s space operas. Immersive and action-packed, worlds-spanning and epic, with a unique cast of misfits tasked with saving the day. I first encountered Tchaikovsky's writing through his "Children of Time" duology (2015, 2019), in which humanity flees a dying Earth in search of a new home.

In the first entry of his newest series, “The Final Architecture,” Shards of Earth (2021), humanity has fled an Earth destroyed by a moon-sized alien intelligence named an “Architect,” for the way it artfully arranged Earth into an otherworldly flower via extreme gravity.

(See the front cover if you're curious. I think the artist did a good job visualizing that terrible spectacle. Yes, apparently destroying a planet is an artform for these Architects. Seems psychopathic to me.)

The destruction of Earth is the opening salvo in a war in which humanity faces extinction after a series of devastating Architect attacks on various human colonies throughout the universe.

Standing in the way of humanity going the way of the dodo bird are the Parthenon (genetically engineered human women soldiers, basically space Amazons or Valkyries) and the Ints (enhanced humans designed to communicate mind-to-mind with the Architects in an attempt to stop them from their artistic destruction).

It’s 80 years since Earth was destroyed, and veteran Solace, a high-ranking Partheni soldier, is taken out of suspension for a new mission. An Architect hasn’t been seen in a while, so humanity has gotten back to life as normal.

Yet, the Parthenon believes in preparing for their return, and they need an Int. Knowing Solace has a history with fellow veteran Int, Indris, her superiors send her on a quest to recruit him to their cause.

Idris has been piloting for a crew of misfits on The Vulture God, and doesn’t want anything to do with his past, or Solace. When Solace joins the crew, the past doesn’t seem to give him a choice.

Especially after the crew finds the wreck of a ship that appears to have been destroyed Architect-style and they’re thrown into a whole mess of intergalactic intrigue and danger. It gets all Indiana-Jones-in-Space when they recover ancient alien artifacts in their quest to find answers, and all of a sudden a whole bunch of people are willing to kill for them.

If you like space operas, read Shards of Earth.

How about a story featuring a crew of misfits, consisting of an alien whisperer and pilot extraordinaire, a space Valkyrie, a knife-wielding lawyer, a kick-butt tech savant, an extremely sarcastic mechanic, a crab-like alien who negotiates like a Ferengi, a cyborg collective intelligence, and a tough but loving captain/father figure?

If yes, read it!

An ending leaving you wanting more?

Check! Read it!

Trust me, I think you’ll enjoy it!


See also:

Children of Time (2015) by Adrian Tchaikovsky

Skyward (2018) by Brandon Sanderson

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Profile Image for Library of a Viking.
182 reviews3,001 followers
July 18, 2021
An epic space opera!

I have been wanting to read more sci-fi in 2021, so I was incredibly excited when I received an arc of Shards of Earth. As some of you might know, I mostly read and focus on Fantasy literature. I haven’t really figured out if the Sci-Fi genre is for me. Tchaikovsky is well-known for his epic space operas, so I was interested in seeing what all the hype is about.

Shards of Earth is the first book in Tchaikovsky’s new series The Final Architects. Shards of Earth is an epic space opera, featuring multiple races of aliens, several different habitable planes, complex cultures and politics, advanced technology, and action-filled starship battles! Shards of Earth starts 50 years after the Earth was destroyed by the architects. Architects are massive creatures that travel through space to reshape or destroy entire worlds. The Architects threatened to wipe out humanity, but then just suddenly disappeared but. Now 50 years later, there is undeniable proof that they might return.

I finally understand why Tchaikovsky is such a popular Sci-Fi author. Tchaikovsky’s ability to create a vast and complex universe is quite astonishing. Shards of Earth has everything a sci-fi reader wants in a space opera. Shards of Earth is set in a universe with fleshed out history, religion, politics and technology, making the story feel believable.

Furthermore, Tchaikovsky ponders ‘what would happen to humanity if we were forced to leave our planet forever?' Shards of Earth tells the story of how humans left the earth, and how humanity was scattered across the whole universe. Tchaikovsky also demonstrates the massive cultural challenges in working with different alien species, in trying to conquer and defeat the ruthless architects.

Unfortunately, I did struggle a lot with reading this book, and this mostly due to my personal preference and experience with the Sci-Fi genre. Shards of Earth feels like it is written to avid fans of the sci-fi genre. I wasn’t prepared for such a complex story, where the reader is introduced to countless new species, planets and scientific terms, such as unspace. The complexity of the story did overwhelm me at times. I feel like I need to reread this book, to truly appreciate what Tchaikovsky has crafted in this book. Fortunately, there is a glossary and a timeline at the back of the book, to help readers keep track of all the names and terminology.

My main criticism is the first 20%. The introduction to this story is incredibly dense, with way too much information for my taste. I do worry that the ‘information dumps’ at the beginning will discourage a lot of readers. The story does pick up after the first 20% and becomes much more character and plot-focused.

In conclusion, Shards of Earth is an impressive space opera with epic world-building, high stakes and an intriguing plot. I absolutely do think that Sci-Fi readers will love this book, but unfortunately, it was not for me. The complexity and the dense introduction did overwhelm me, making it difficult for me to get fully invested in this story. However, I will still give this book a high rating, since I can appreciate that this is a well-written story. If you are a fan of Space Operas then I can highly recommend picking up this book.

3 / 5 stars

A special thanks to UK Tor, BlackCrow and NetGalley for an arc of this book.
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,195 reviews114 followers
August 9, 2021
"It had singled out the system's inhabited world, as architects always did. Because they must have their art, and their art demanded death."

Tchaikovsky's first true space opera effort is deftly executed, thrilling and epic. And yet, and yet. I can't help but feel a wee bit of disappointment as I've come to expect the unexpected from him, and Shards of Earth felt mostly conventional and daresay predictable, with many tropes that will feel familiar to long time readers of modern space opera from the likes of masters such as Alastair Reynolds, Peter F. Hamilton, James S.A. Corey, Neal Asher and others. To be clear, it's a terrific story, yet it doesn't push the envelope, especially when it comes to the mind blowing science, as much of his previous sci-fi has. Still, I'm on board for future installments as my curiosity is now piqued to see how the epic mystery at the heart of this ultimate galactic threat evolves and if humanity and its allies, with all their divergent groups and innate xenophobia and bigotry, can transcend their rivalries and get their collective shit together to meet the challenge. Oh, and yes, there are some bugs :)

"There was a future out there. And it was a terrible one. It included war, and whole planets dying in the shadow of architects. They were living in a fractured galaxy. And it must come together, or it would fall into darkness. One star at a time."
Profile Image for Gary.
442 reviews193 followers
December 31, 2021
Adrian Tchaikovsky’s penchant for one jaw dropping SFnal idea after another is on full display in Shards of Earth, a new far-future space opera in which humanity – and all sentient life in the galaxy – faces extinction (I kid you not) at the hands of massive alien ships that aesthetically rearrange everything to their liking: everything from starships to entire planets, regardless of (or perhaps, especially) if it is inhabited by billions of living beings.
And if you think that sentence was exhausting, you have no idea what you’re in store for. If you’ve read Children of Time, you know that Tchaikovsky writes as if he is in fierce competition with himself over how many speculative rabbit holes he can swan dive, as well how many big questions from the entire human history of scientific and philosophical thought he can tackle on the way down, all while cramming in as many awe-inspiring alien cultures, knuckle-skinning chases, and explody space battles he can fit between its covers. In other words, literally everything you could ever want from science fiction.
Profile Image for Phrynne.
3,321 reviews2,143 followers
August 9, 2022
Another amazingly good science fiction/fantasy from this talented author. Am I allowed to complain that he writes too many books? I am unable to keep up with all of them but I am very glad I chose to read this book which is the start to a new series.

The Architects of the title are huge entities who appear to be attempting to 'redesign' the planets which are occupied by life forms. Redesigning involves opening and peeling the planet surfaces back like flower petals. Earth has already gone, killing billions of people, and those who fled in time have colonised new planets. Now the Architects are coming for them.

As usual Tchaikovsky drops the reader straight into the action from page one. World building happens along the way. Characters arrive complete on the page and you must wait for their back stories to be filled out at suitable moments. He makes the reader work but it is really worth it. Idris is one of the best characters I have met yet in a sci fi. book. He is an unexpected hero, small in stature and apparently insecure, but he has some very special talents, one of which is being able to make contact with an Architect.

I enjoyed all the characters, especially of course the crew of the Viking God. I liked that the aliens we met were not humanoids. Tchaikovsky is good at imagining the strange. There was a lot of action both on and off planet which was all good. I especially loved the scenes of Idris piloting the ship through Unspace and the way he used it to escape.

It is a long book, just over 500 pages, and it is a book to read slowly to absorb all the facts, but it is also a very difficult book to put down. It is the first in a series, but still finishes really well and is complete in itself. Nevertheless the enemy is still out there, hiding in the depths of space, and one day they will return. I cannot wait!
Profile Image for K.J. Charles.
Author 59 books8,593 followers
April 4, 2022
Hugely enjoyable space opera with chaotic crew of spacers saving the galaxy from alien threat. Nothing wrong with a classic set up, it's all in the execution, and this executes terrifically, with high stakes, genuine jeopardy, wonderfully imagined races and societies, and great characters. Tchaikovsky excels at making complicated worldbuilding feel easy, and this is no exception. A page turner.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,206 reviews3,192 followers
April 24, 2022
4.0 Stars
From the premise, this sounds like yet another space opera adventure. It has many of the classic tropes like ancient aliens and political upheaval. Yet in the hands of a seasoned author, this science fiction epic was fantastic. 

The story itself is dense, yet very rewarding. Told over multiple perspectives, the plot was complex and intricate. The worldbuilding was equally strong and expansive in scale. I was fascinated by the mysterous Architects. I soaked up every detail about them because I badly wanted to know more about them.

In terms of storytelling, I did find the author's narrative style to be quite detachee, always keeping the reader at a distance from the characters. It's a stylistic choice, but the prose were not completely to my tastes. I often felt like a far onlooker, when I would have preferred to be closer to the characters and their experience

This is definitely one of those books that benefits rereading. This book is long, detailed and complicated. Admittedly I read it twice in order to fully appreciate it. I am looking forwarding to revisiting this one again when the sequel comes out.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for Peter.
709 reviews48 followers
June 8, 2021
Knowing the kind of creative stories this author is capable of, this run-of-the-mill space opera with Mass Effect vibes was a disappointment. It's better than most space operas I've read in a while, but I struggled to get into it and ended up not really caring about anyone. It wasn't exactly short either and it felt like it too.

The world was pretty generic with humans in a far off future living among various alien species. A handful of ideas were suitably clever, but nothing stood out as truly original. In fact, my biggest gripe with the world was how similar in concept it felt to the Mass Effect games. My mind kept comparing the two and this book kept consistently feeling inferior in execution, even though I know we're not exactly comparing apples with apples here.

As for the characters, they were decent for the most part. I'm rarely a fan of constant POV jumps and this was another case of why that is. There are clearly two main characters who are far away the most interesting to follow, but we kept jumping to secondary characters who weren't developed at all and only existed to show the reader a different perspective on certain events. The motivations for many of them were also lacking with antagonist characters feeling shallow and petty, while secondary characters seemed to exist solely to provide some interpersonal conflict for the sake of it. I think it tried to be a character-driven story in many ways and only succeeded on the most basic level to make me care about the main characters, and even then, only towards the end.

The plot felt tired and drawn out. For most of the book, it seemed like we were on a bunch of random side-quests that I just couldn't engage with. My mind kept wandering off during the often-prolonged action scenes while the quieter moments lacked depth. The stakes were consistently underwhelming thanks to the huge threat that wasn't actually a part of the story until right at the end. It just didn't work for me on a structural or creative level.

However, for space opera fans, this hits many familiar notes that I know a lot of people enjoy about the genre. The writing was generally strong with mature prose and consistent pacing. Its exploration of themes was on the basic side, but not distractingly bad in any way. Ultimately, I think this just didn't do anything innovative or unexpected enough to make my ears perk up.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,390 reviews4,908 followers
August 26, 2021

This is the first book in 'The Final Architects' series by award-winning science fiction writer Adrian Tchaikovsky.

The story takes place in the distant future when humans have colonized space and encountered many kinds of intergalactic species. The most frightening of these is an entity called an Architect, a creature as big as the moon, with crystalline spikes radiating from its surface.

An Architect appears suddenly over an inhabited world, then quickly reshapes it into a gigantic sculpture, killing everything that lives there. Architects seem unaware they're destroying sentient creatures, almost like humans view gnats.

An Architect destroyed Earth, but humanity still exists on planets and moons elsewhere in the universe. All worlds containing intelligent beings are on high alert, ready to evacuate at a moment's notice, in case an Architect appears in the sky.

Nevertheless, 'sculpturing' by an Architect is so rapid that few can escape, and no weapons - even gravitic drives or mass looms - seem able to stop them.

The first being to successfully interact with an Architect was a human girl called Xavienne Torino. Xavienne's brain could 'connect' with an Architect somehow, and on one occasion Xavienne 'persuaded' an Architect to cease an attack and go away.

Xavienne was dubbed an Intermediary, and an Intermediary Program was started to modify human recruits to mimic Xavienne's abilities. The modification - which consists of genetic manipulation, surgery, and intense conditioning - is so extreme that it kills most trainees.

However a few people get through the Intermediary Program, and several Intermediaries - working together - put a pause in the Architect attacks.

The Intermediaries also have another ability. They're able to guide spacecraft through 'unspace', a dangerous region that permits rapid travel across the universe. Unspace drives almost all creatures insane, and - except for Intermediaries - travelers must be sleeping to get through safely.

As the story opens, there hasn't been an Architect attack in decades, and planets across the universe are engaged in all manner of commerce, import, export, mining, trade, etc. that requires space travel. Thus all societies want Intermediaries.

Of the few existing Intermediaries, all but one are 'leashed' (under binding contracts). The lone 'free' Intermediary, named Idris Telemmier, is a navigator aboard a salvage vessel called the Vulture God, whose crew consists of a handful of humans and aliens.

Any number of organizations, gangs, armies, businesses, politicians and so on - both human and alien - are trying to get their hands (or claws or tentacles or whatever) on Idris....and they'll do ANYTHING to accomplish this goal. Thus everyone seems to be on the lookout for the Vulture God, to get access to the Intermediary.

Idris and the other crew members of the Vulture God are at the center of the story, and we follow their adventures as they crisscross the universe.

One group that wants Idris is the Parthenon, whose members are genetically engineered human women. The females, called Partheni, are among the best fighters in the universe, and they'd like Idris to join their ranks. The Parthenon sends one of its own, a woman called Solace, to recruit Idris, and she (temporarily) joins the crew of the Vulture God to try to persuade him.

On one of it's salvage jobs, the Vulture God finds an object that suggests the Architects are back, and this is the underlying theme of the book.

There's plenty of action in the story, with fighting, shooting, stabbing, stealing, killing, destruction, death, and so forth. There's also plenty of prevarication, scheming, conspiring and negotiation. All this makes for an excellent space saga.

Tchaikovsky does a good bit of world-building in the story, and describes all manner of humans; aliens; societies; civilizations; spaceships; weapons; criminals; soldiers; etc....everything you'd expect in a sci-fi novel.

It can get confusing, but Tchaikovsky helpfully includes a glossary as well as lists of worlds; characters, species; and ships. Best of all the author includes a detailed timeline - an outline that depicts the events in the universe that brought it to it's present state.

I enjoyed the book and look forward to the next novel in the series.

Thanks to Netgalley, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Tor Publishers for a copy of the book.

You can follow my reviews at https://reviewsbybarbsaffer.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Montzalee Wittmann.
4,598 reviews2,309 followers
December 20, 2021
Shards of Earth
(The Final Architecture #1)
by Adrian Tchaikovsky
This book is going in my favorite folder! Wow! Loved it! This is a complex story wrapped in worlds of wonder with the most imaginative characters ever!
I felt like I was there, like I knew each planet and their society. For each world! I felt I knew the characters, and there are plenty, each stood out and I was able to keep them straight because the author made each character so vividly alive!
The many concepts of space and unspace were made comprehensible and it fascinated and terrified me!
I can't wait to read the next book! This has so much going on! Politics, societies and their issues, strange creatures/species, plants, the unknowns, the bond between team mates, the Ints who use their mind to navigate space and unspace and battle the Architects! There is so much more too! Awesome!
Profile Image for Phil.
1,754 reviews126 followers
May 8, 2022
Something a little different from Tchaikovsky, akin to a homage to 'classic' science fiction space opera with modern sensibilities. This was a buddy read with Nataliya, who writes much better reviews them me, so check her's out as well. Right of the bat in the prologue, we are introduced to humanity at war (and losing) to some alien beings/ships deemed the Architects. When an Architect ship arrives in system look out, because it transforms entire planets into some kind of bizarre alien art; they/it seems to need populated planets for their art, however, as if death helps with their macabre sculpture. The prologue, however, marks the end of the war-- in a climatic battle, newly minted 'Intermediaries' are flown out to 'communicate' with the Architect and it seems to work! After some trials and tribulations, the Architect menace seemingly abated...

After the prologue, we are gradually introduced to the world of now, roughly about 250 years in the future. The first planet 'shaped' by the Architects was Earth, but due to some new found alien friends, humanity has already colonized many worlds before their arrival. The 'war' lasted for about 80 years, but it was pretty one-sided to be sure; only the advent of the intermediaries turned the tide. What are the intermediaries? Basically they are humans that have undergone some arcane (and little discussed) surgery/treatment whatever that allows them to communicate with the Architects; the prototype was a young girl who came into contact with one during the war (she was a passenger on a freighter running away) who managed somehow to turn the Architect back. Unique brain? Not really sure. As a bonus, intermediaries (known today as 'Ints') can pilot spaceships in the 'unspace'.

It seems a prior civilization created/found various pathways through unspace that, coupled with a type of gravity drive, allow for FTL travel along certain 'Throughways'. The problem is that for humans (and it turns out most species) unspace can turn them insane, homicidal, etc. Ints, however, can stay awake in unspace and therefore pilot off the Throughways and hence they are highly prized. Some 'today' work for space exploration agencies for example.

Now, a bit on the plot. Tchaikovsky does not do a lot of info dumps, so the above set up is basically dropped in via short flashbacks/introductions etc.. The story centers on a rag tag crew of a space tug, who happen to have one of the 'original' Ints as a pilot; this allows them to salvage far beyond the Throughways. Besides the pilot (also the main protagonist Idris), we have Rollo the captain (human), Kris (human) who is a lawyer, Olli (human) a drone specialist, Barney (human) an engineer, Medvig, a 'hiver' (an A.I. hive mind), Kit, a Hannilambra (a crab like alien who serves as their factor) and Solace, a Partheni soldier and agent. Really a harsher version of Firefly in a way, and an old trope in science fiction-- rag tag crew on a decrepit ship earning their keep on the fringes of society.

After the war, humanity starts factionalizing (of course); we have 'Hugh', the governing body of the human colonies, the Parthenon, a breakaway group of genetically modified Amazon like warriors, and within the colonies, we have Nativists, who scorn genetic tampering and distrust/hate Ints and the Parthenon. We also have a rival civilization deemed the hegemony, who basically dominate several species in their empire and several human colonies who have 'bent their knee' to them as they claim a way to keep subjugated planets safe from the Architects. Whew.

While peace as seemingly been achieved via the Architects, war simmers on the fire as the various human factions are being drawn apart. The Parthenon, however, while better armed and with better warships, lacks Ints. Hence, Solace-- she is sent on a mission to induce Idris to come to the Parthenon so they can learn the secret of Ints. Solace and Idris have a history-- both fought together in the war with the Architects and became friendly-- so that explains her role on the tug. Of course, the others on the ship distrust her intensely...

Lots going on here, but I will stop with the plot. This is really a departure for Tchaikovsky, who dazzled with his Children of Time and usually has some crazy biological transformed species featuring in his work; Dogs of War has, for example, genetically modified dogs who rival humanity for intelligence but still want to be 'good dogs'. Here, we have a lot of crazy aliens instead-- the crab like Hanni, the giant clam like Essiel behind the hegemony, the worm-like aliens that gave humanity the gravity drive 200 years ago, a lobster-like symbiote who pairs well with humans from the Hegemony, and the locus=like aliens who travel space on huge arks, transforming entire planets into raw materials to make more arks (they are something of a insect hive mind).

Basically, Tchaikovsky gives us a classic space opera here, full of politics and intrigue, with lots of interesting aliens in a Star Wars kinda way. We even have 'clam' gangsters! Great world building as well. This reminds me of other British science fiction authors like Neal Asher and Peter Hamilton who have been penning great space opera over the last few decades. I was expecting a little more here on the mind blowing scale I typically employ for Tchaikovsky, but it turn out he can do more 'traditional' space opera very well, thank you. 4.5 alien seafood salad stars!
Profile Image for Trish.
2,015 reviews3,434 followers
November 26, 2021
What a barnstorming kick-off to a new trilogy!

Earth has been destroyed. Actually, Earth itself still exists but it now looks ... like a flower:

The planet has become an art project for some form of alien life that humanity has dubbed The Architects (they are about the size of a moon and can bend matter to their will).
Seemingly unstoppable and so alien that not even communication is possible, they move from solar system to solar system, "transforming" planets and killing billions in the process.
Home sapiens and homo ... whatever ... have spread to several systems and space travel is pretty mundane. Thus, there were refugees fleeing to other worlds and different militaries banding together to try and stop the alien entities. But it wasn't until some enhanced humans, the intermediaries, were created thanks to a mix of chemotherapy and psychosurgery and flung into the action that an Architect actually was deterred and they just ... vanished altogether.
And this, bookworms, is just the foreword to this novel. *lol*

What we get throughout this first installment is a look at the different planetary systems several decades after the Architects have vanished. Because there are hints that they are coming back.
Then there is the mystery over what the enhanced human beings are actually doing / how they were enhanced / the effects on a human brain / the horrors of traveling through un-space.
And, last but certainly not least, the riddle of the un-space itself, especially off the shallow pathways and what all of it has to do with the alien „artists“.

I loooved the big bang in the beginning because although it was clearly a retelling of events (meaning someone must have been alive to tell the tale), I was 150% invested, holding my breath while sitting on the edge of my seat.
And then we get a nice little romp through no-space, great character development and heartbreaking stories (especially that of Idris, of course) before the big twist rears its unedited and quite ugly head (and we still don’t know why the Architects did what they did)!

Wonderful writing, the pacing was off the charts and I adored the massive worldbuilding as much as the detailed characterbuilding. Just the psychological effects of no-space and what that actually was … priceless!

This author has written many books, most of them excellent, all of them at least great. But this ... this is knocking it out of the park and I can't wait for the 2nd volume to be out - thank goodness Tchaikovsky is a machine so we won't have to wait too long!
Profile Image for Liviu.
2,283 reviews641 followers
February 14, 2021
Shards of Earth is the opening novel of the Final Architects series and it delivers everything I expected and more in a 500+ page package with a great ending at a good stopping point which promises a lot for the next installments; there is also a Glossary, character list, and timeline which are highly useful and with no real spoilers as the novel's storyline goes, giving a choice to consult it early (as I did and that added a lot to my reading experience) if the book opening chapters seem too dense or obscure regarding the universe, timeline, jargon (most terms like "unspace" are space-operaish but there are some that take a while to figure out directly), species etc - everything is explained as one goes through the book, but it takes a while so it's a matter of choice if one wants to consult the glossary/timeline early or not.

Shards of Earth has a proper serious space opera feel I've been missing recently with various strands of humanity, including the Parthenon, a utopian warrior female race, the Hive, a cyborg-like creation of humanity, now independent, but also "nativist" humans and their extreme wing, The Betrayed who hate everyone not "human normal" while sadly getting more followers and even representants at the highest colonial government level with more and more influence, and also humans that serve an alien religion/cult, both the alien empire and the alien "mafia", aliens of various kinds and of course the mysterious Architects - seemingly invincible moon-sized intellects that just appear from "unspace" the medium of ftl travel and reshape populated worlds, destroying them of course in the process.

Stopped cold for the first time some 45 years before the start of the book, when an Architect attacked the new human capital planet and devastated the largest ever human-alien fleet assembled to fight them, only for the weapons of the fleet and the 8 Intermediaries (genetically created humans that can somehow communicate with them) to somehow destroy the Architect, the Architects later were successfully engaged in communication by the Intermediaries and just disappeared after a few years.

Sadly in the following 40 or so years, the first in three generations when humanity didn't live with having continually the bags packed so to speak, with the possibility of a sudden Architect appearance and flight for whoever can from there, the relative unity shattered and now various human polities are on the brink of war with each other, not to speak of major internal unrest etc; and so the novel starts in the year 123 after the reshaping of Earth.

The novel is structured with chapters from the POV of a few main characters, Idris the unsleeping, unageing intermediary who just wants obscurity and freedom after helping end the war decades ago, Kris his personal lawyer, handy with a knife and well versed in the colonial and alien laws, (as newer intermediaries created after the war are generally serfs of the main human colonial government as they can pilot starships through uncharted paths in unspace, Idris needs said lawyer with him always to prevent powerful people grabbing him as fugitive - although Idris is a free man with all the rights of colonial citizen under his parting agreement decades ago -, especially that even after all these decades he looks still 25), Solace a Parthenon warrior linked with Idris from way back, still young as she was mostly kept on ice in hibernation since and later an agent of the colonial government who gets entangled with the main cast and brings a needed different perspective.

The locale is also quite varied and inventive, from a human planet in the process of voting itself to secede from the colonial government and accept the rule of the alien Hegemony, to a gangster planet nominally part of the colonial government, to the capital planet itself and other cool places, while the storyline moves fast and the pages turn by themselves.

Overall awesome and highly highly recommended, top 5 novel of the year for me for sure, while the sequel is of course a huge ASAP
Profile Image for Dave.
3,101 reviews353 followers
August 9, 2022
Those who know the story of Marvel’s Silver Surfer will find themselves on somewhat familiar ground with Tchaikovsky’s new trilogy. The Silver Surfer, as you probably remember, was encased in silver and had a space-riding surfboard, and acted as a scout for Galactus, a hungry behemoth that ate up whole worlds, inhabitants and all. He eventually pleaded with Galactus to have mercy on Earth and thus was rewarded with a prison around Earth for all the rest of his days. In Shards of Earth, the first book in the trilogy, destined for an August 2021 release, we find a universe where Architects, vast planetoid-sized beings, appear out of nowhere and find inhabited worlds which they then carve up like jack-o-lanterns or other great works of art. Fortunately, there are Earth colonies out there and, when Earth is carved out and the earthlings flee (although billions don’t make it), there are a few places that they can land and hope beyond hope the Architects don’t find them.

But, the earthlings are not the only ones on the run from the Architects. There are others even more ancient who are completely unlike us and to be feared as well. They too cower in the face of the Architects. Others aliens have found a means of escape by holding onto original regalia left behind in ruins hundreds of thousands of years hence. Those who are willing to be subservient to these aliens can survive on these planets while the Architects molest all else.

The colonies survived the Architects once by the use of ints, who have been bred and altered so that they can navigate through unspace (sort of like the guild navigators in Frank Herbert’s universe, but more humanlike). Somehow three hardy ints were able to communicate with one Architect and the Architects disappeared for at time.

Now the story opens some decades later with a complicated political scene, with factions battling for control, with cults arising, and few left from the last war. The myrmidons, the battling angels bred for nothing but perfection and battle, are in their corner. The last of the original Ints who battled the Architects to a standstill is on a salvage freighter with a motley crew of beings that are difficult to describe. Their mission is to gather a lost ship and bring it back, but bringing it back will be something that they all regret as forces across the universe battle for what they found and the return of the fearsome architects lurk in the background.

What a great story! It is more than just another space opera, filled with depth, with history, with politics, and rather dense and intimidating at times as the reader tries to absorb who is what and who stands for whom among the diplomats, the cults, the warriors, and the hive beings. It is filled with a crew as diverse as you would find in any space bar, but complex as anything you might find out there as each party has its own goals and missions and even allies like these might not be helpful.
Profile Image for Evelina | AvalinahsBooks.
878 reviews446 followers
June 22, 2022
How I read this: Free ebook copy received for a blog tour from publicist and tour managers via NetGalley

WOW WOW WOW. Unforgettable story. A 560+ page beast that I gobbled up IN TWO DAYS. Grand, looming and incredible. If you:
- are a fan of Mass Effect
- loved The Three-Body Problem
- love not-only-human and not-only-able-bodied casts
- love cool strong fighter women
- love a dark story
- are prepared for many pages and a whole series of that


I have a long review right here, so please come visit my post if you want to know more about why I absolutely loved Shards of Earth:

I thank the publisher for giving me a free copy of the ebook in exchange to my honest review. This has not affected my opinion.

Book Blog | Bookstagram | Bookish Twitter
Profile Image for Hank.
820 reviews79 followers
June 19, 2022
I imagine stereotypical readers of certain genres, the slightly overweight, pipe smoking, 60+ man in his hardwood appointed room obsessively reading Horatio Hornblower and other sailing books. The thin, glasses wearing, bookish type delving into mystery after mystery. The bored housewife waiting for dinner/dishes to be done so she can plunge into her romance guilty pleasure. Then there is me, middle aged scientist whose brain is not fully present in the real world reading space operas, if the shoe fits... For the record, 99% of my goodreads friends don't fit this stereotype and yes we could have an adult conversation about me not thinking stereotypically but it is what it is.

As I have said before, this is my wheelhouse, spaceships, weird aliens, a group of misfits trying to survive an overpowered force trying to destroy "things". Tchaikovsky does it better than most, his characters are great and his imagination is awesome yet not so weird as Mieville.

5 stars, can't wait for the next one.
Profile Image for Javir11.
543 reviews178 followers
May 20, 2023

He dudado mucho entre las 3 y las 4 estrellas, pero al final le puse 4 no demasiado convencido, quizás porque me gustó más que la saga de Children of time, al cual le puse 3.

La idea global me ha gustado bastante, el desarrollo no esta mal y tiene buenos momentos, pero al final le falta esa chispa que te haga desear seguir leyendo, cosa que no me ha pasado, leía, disfrutaba más o menos según el capítulo, pero no estaba con ansias de llegar a casa y continuar la historia.

A su favor tiene el worldbuilding, el cual me ha gustado bastante y tiene cierta "originalidad" siempre teniendo en cuenta que está casi todo visto dentro de las Space Operas. Los personajes no están mal, pero tampoco me parecen memorables, de hecho terminé este libro hace un par de semanas y ni recuerdo sus nombres. La trama apunta maneras y creo que si leo los siguientes será por ver que pasa y descubrir las muchas respuestas que han quedado pendientes.

¿Recomendable? Creo que si te gustan mucho las Space Operas te gustará esta lectura. En ese aspecto es bastante clásico y además lo adereza un universo bastante sólido y con elementos muy interesantes, ahora bien, si buscas una lectura repleta de acción y aventuras, pues aunque las hay, sobre todo lo segundo, digamos que no es el objetivo primordial de la historia.
Profile Image for Natalie  all_books_great_and_small .
2,220 reviews80 followers
May 27, 2021
I received an advance reader copy of this book to read in exchange for an honest review via netgalley and Black Crow PR.

Shards of Earth is an explosive new sci-fi series that has amazing potential to be one of the best so far!
This fast paced space opera kicks off straight at the heart of the war which I really enjoyed!
The Architects are utterly ruthless and terrifying and had me gripping my phone as I read the pdf version!
This explosive beginning gives a great build up to the modern day times that unfold in the book rather than going back and forth too much.
Idris is the main character in this story - a navigator has history from when the Architects first arrived.
We meet a host of amazing characters in this book and I especially liked Solace! I hope to read more of them and their back stories in the next books.
I wasn't sure about the 'unspace' theory but it did seem to work well within the book. The word building and settings are amazing and such a strong backbone to the book!
This is a breathtaking space opera all sci-fi fans need to read!
Profile Image for Faith.
1,898 reviews535 followers
June 28, 2022
This wasn’t for me. I have enjoyed this author in the past, but I am not a fan of space opera or military sci-fi. The beginning bored me with all of the info dumping of back story and too many characters/alien species were introduced at once. I made it to the 20% point and realized that I was dreading continuing this long book and reading the next two books of the trilogy is unthinkable. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,063 reviews1,473 followers
May 2, 2021
Actual rating 4.5/5 stars. This is the first instalment in The Final Architects series.

Earth is but a distant memory and the humans who survived the planet's destruction are scattered across the universe, alongside other alien races. Idris was once one such human, until he became utilised in the war against what had destroyed his home-planet and his brain remade into something that could fight against it. He did just that. However, forty years has passed and humanity quickly forgets to fear as it strives for growth. What had once tormented them could be returning and they are as unprepared as they were before to face it, with only Idris and a few of his kind left in their arsenal.

This was such a fascinating insight to both space and the future. I loved the travel between distant stars and planet and the explanations provided for what thrived there, and how they functioned as they did so. The multitude of perspectives also allowed the reader to get differing viewpoints into a host of governing bodies, those at opposing junctures of each planet's social hierarchy, and those who served alternate roles in serving the longevity of their species, their planet, and their own body. It also allowed us to realise that many humans are still as limited with their acceptance of differences as they are on Earth and in the present-day.

Alongside my fascination with these features was my dual absorption with the politics of war. Action-scenes were allowed to dominate but running concurrently were the behind-the-scenes and often underhanded interventions between planets and species. I was sometimes overwhelmed by the sheer density of information that both these sides presented, but never anything other than engrossed as I attempted to puzzle them out.
Profile Image for Terry.
366 reviews77 followers
February 7, 2022
Short take is that I loved it!

Sci-fi is a genre that I've tried to read more of the past couple of years. I'm forever fascinated with the idea of alien life, and ancient alien technology, and am always on the look-out for books that include this. I also want to get lost in a story that feels like a plausible future, a reality that I can picture as believable and real. I went into Shards of Earth without knowing really that much about the storyline and was very pleased to discover that it included these elements.

This is space opera of the highest order with a large cast of characters, alien worlds and interesting technology. It is filled with lots of action and great pacing. There were some hard sci-fi elements to the story, but nothing that I thought made the story hard to follow. It was filled with the best characters I've read in a space opera in a while (my favorite being Solace!). I loved the crew of the Vulture God, and was so invested in the story, that I felt like I was a part of that crew. Can't ask for more than that! It's much the same feeling as I've had with some recent fantasy books I've read.

Overall, this was a 5.0/5.0 stars for me, and I cannot wait for book 2 to be released later this year.
Profile Image for Vivian.
2,847 reviews398 followers
April 28, 2022
Arthropods — EVERYWHERE!

This was entertaining. A space opera featuring a misfit crew with hearts of gold and irreverent speech. A little bit of space folding, a dash of Valkyries, tinkers, accountants, a lawyer, the well-meaning detective, and a cantankerous captain. What’s not to like?

Oh, space bugs. Like Earth being 85% inhabited, so goes space.

Hanni were a competitive species amongst their own kind. Kris had seen business deals concluded over wrestling matches, impenetrable puzzles and even dance-offs. The Hanni didn’t wage war, funneling all their disagreements into a myriad of contests.

3.5 stars rounded up because I read it in about one day.
Profile Image for Carrie .
985 reviews469 followers
May 31, 2021
*Like always my reviews may have slight spoilers*

This was my first time jumping into the mind of Adrian Tchaikovsky, even though I've had his Fantasy books on my shelves for sometime (I should really get to those), and I have to say I was not let down.

A century before the Earth is destroyed, humanity finally makes contact with aliens, we learn there are other intelligent life forms. We learn about unspace and how to travel it, and over time start to establish colonies on other planets. We establish relationships, and conflicts.

Shards of Earth takes places multiple generations after the destruction of the Earth and other colonized planets at the hands of the Architects, an alien godlike moon sized entity who not only destroys the planet but reshapes them into works of art, beautiful in design whilst killing all life that remains.

There are humans, Intermediaries, who are tweaked with and designed to stop these Architects. There is success with Idris, he stopped them the last time, and they left. Ending the war, becoming a hero. But now it looks like they could be coming back. And Idris wants to know why. And he wants to stop them.

The density at the start of this book made getting into it slower than I thought it would be, but with that being said it didn't take away from my overall enjoyment just slowed me down a little and once we got past say the first 20is% smooth sailing. I liked the politics. How after all that has happened to multiple worlds we still all have tensions and war is still something that could happen. It amazed me to see the cult like religious group, even after all these years away from Earthly religions there is still something that people will follow. Does it surprise me when we encountered the Nativists? No there will always been sets of humanity that think they are better than others. After all that has happened, humans and other intelligent life still go back to how they were, not heading advice and doing things for their own gain.

I REALLY enjoy Shards of Earth, after my mind was able to click with density and the witting style I was hooked. The concept intrigued me, I kept on thinking okay is this going to go this route or this route, and I was wrong with all of my guesses and theories. I was kept on my toes and on the edge of my seat the whole book.

Adrian Tchaikovsky did a great job of setting the atmosphere. I could imagine the events as they took place. I was there on the planet Berlenhof, with the adapting nature among the ruins of the Originators. Some of my favorite parts are when traveling the throughways and unspace. The feeling and idea of the presence. Honestly I would have actually liked more of those scenes, it was horrific and I had chills. The story played out like a tv show in my mind. This is a story that deserves a visual medium as well. It also could be that for the most part my main science fiction experiences have been mainly television or cinema, I'm working on that.

The cast of characters, especially those that make up the crew of the Vulture God will make you smile, the relationships with each other is a perfect found family. There's bickering but they have your back. The scenes with them are my some of my favorites through out the story. As to a favorite character, it's hard to pick but Idris is among the top of the list.

The ending surprised me, like I said previously I assumed so many other outcomes.

This is a book that I know I will read again, so that says something.

I can not wait for book 2.

But in the mean time, I will content myself with reading Adrian Tchaikovsky's backlist.

I would like to thank TheWriteReads, UkTor and BlackCrowPR for the opportunity to take part in this book tour.

Happy Reading!

I Can Has Books?
Profile Image for Trike.
1,526 reviews162 followers
December 18, 2021
This is twice as long as it should be. A tight 270 pages would’ve made this a ton better, because it really drags in parts.

So basically Tchaikovsky stuck Firefly into Mass Effect and shoehorned 343 Guilty Spark from Halo into the crew. We get it, Adrian, you play video games. That description sounds like there would be a lot of moving parts, but there’s really not. This is as complex as Space Invaders, without any of the inventive worldbuilding of his sentient spiders and uplifted octopus novels, Children of Time and Children of Ruin.

There’s also a character who acts like the Silver Surfer from Marvel comics, heralding the arrival of Galactus the World-Eater, but he has like two lines and then goes away. I mean, it seems like you could get at least three chapters delving into that apparently immortal alien warning thingy/person, but it’s a throw-away character. Weird.

And the climax is bizarrely bifurcated because he inexplicably pauses for like 150 pages. It’s as if Star Wars has the rebels approaching the Death Star and you hear, “Lock S-foils into attack position,” and then we cut to a whole different movie and watch that before continuing with the story.

I also don’t know why he called his version of the Reapers (https://masseffect.fandom.com/wiki/Re...) “Architects” since they’re more akin to Death Star-shaped kaiju who use gravity to twist spaceships and whole planets into crazy shapes. Architects design things, not reduce them to wreckage. Call them Bulldozers, maybe, or, if you’re generous, Sculptors. I dunno, it’s just one of the many disconnects I had with this book, which feels like it was churned out in a hurry.

I listened to the audiobook, which I don’t recommend. It reads better than the performance.
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