Thursday, 28 July 2011

Book Review: Spiderwork by L.K. Rigel

Title: Spiderwork
Author: L.K. Rigel
Series: Book #2 in the Apocalypto series
Release Date: 1 January 2011
Source: review copy provided by author
Purchasing Info: Goodreads, Author's Website, Free at Amazon, Free at Smashwords

Grade: 4 stars

Novellus superbus!
Goodreads appetizer:

Her fate was to hold the world together. His destiny was to tear it apart.

As a child, Durga was chosen by the goddess to save the world from sterility and extinction. Now her eighteenth birthday approaches, and Durga must take her place among the chalices, women made fertile by the goddess to ensure more souls for the universe. Durga's mission does not include love ... but Khai, the scion of Luxor, is unlike any man she's ever met.

Char Meadowlark once played a role in the goddess's plans. Now her lover, Jake Ardri, heads an emerging city-state whose enemies covet everything he has built. As Jake navigates the uneasy waters of political intrigue, his very existence is threatened. To save him, Char must share him with a chalice ... one trained to take him to the heights of sexual ecstasy.

In flagrante apocalypto: When the veil drops between life and oblivion, only love can save them from the abyss.

This review was originally posted at Book Lovers Inc.

My Thoughts: Spiderwork is the second book in L.K. Rigel’s Apocalypto series, and it being the sequel to Space Junque, the comparison arises. I thought as Space Junque was Char’s story, Spiderwork would be about Durga, but was pleasantly surprised to see that although she was certainly one of the main characters, there was enough time and space to focus on others as well: we got to revisit some characters we got to know in the first book like Char, Jake and Magda and a whole new set of characters were introduced: emerging leaders of the new empires/settlements, chalices and the inhabitants of the settlement Jake and Char have built.

I confess that I didn’t like Durga in Space Junque and because of that wasn’t really looking forward to Spiderwork, but she grew up to be a quiet and serious young woman who made me forget about the precocious little girl who irritated me with her arrogance and know-it-all attitude. It was good to see she had a more human side behind the mask of mission and that despite being the chosen one feared and respected by all she still had human emotions and needs.

The world setting became even more complex and detailed and thanks to L.K. Rigel’s writing my biggest concern and fear regarding sci-fi and fantasy (namely that I won’t be able to picture the abnormal settings/creatures/things) wasn’t realized here. Everything was described in great detail and even though I consider myself not too imaginative when it comes to sci-fi, I saw the extraordinary settings and strange species clearly.

Though the Apocalypto series has strong romance storylines and love is interwoven all through the story this series has many other focal points: it explores tyranny, democracy, politicians’ unethical behaviour, environmental issues, religious beliefs, love and one of the most important ones: reproduction. (but fear not, despite these serious issues it is most certainly not dull or boring!)

I have to confess that I was in turmoil over this specific aspect of the Apocalypto series. In this faraway future women are infertile, so when a goddess resurfaced and assembled a dozen girls giving them fertility and long life (they will live until they are 150 years), they were also given a mission: they have to populate the Earth and provide men with children. Of course through this construction these women become breeding machines, having no say in choosing the fathers or how many children they give birth to. They can’t have bonds with their babies as it would make the separation harder. The whole procedure reminded me of mail order purchases: the rulers of the settlements chose their chalice based on what kind of baby they wanted and then got the baby after the pregnancy. This inhuman and cruel, impersonal breeding upset me.

As one of the characters said:
"Not every woman who bleeds longs to become a glorified prostitute"
And that is exactly what I thought of these poor women, I didn’t see them as revered and being in enviable positions :-/

What makes L.K. Rigel’ sci-fi series very enjoyable even to sci-fi newbies like me is that despite the rich extraordinary world she creted she explores in depth her characters and their thoughts and feelings, and it is these emotional layers which make the story whole.

"Sometimes when I look at her my heart feels like it's been torn out of my chest. It hurts."
Jake about his love for Char

Verdict: I found Spiderwork even better and more vibrant than Space Junque and am looking forward to Bleeder, to see where L.K. Rigel is taking the characters and the big arch of the storyline in the third book.

This section of a song sang in the story describes the series perfectly:
"And if the old world has died, then let a new world arise
He'll live out his days, and hold her so long, hold her so strong
He doesn't even wonder now.
And he'll remain a man though the gods are changing"

Plot: 8/10
Characters: 8/10
Ending: 7/10
Writing: 8/10
Cover: 9/10 - cover perfection! It is gorgeous, atmospheric and suits the story perfectly!

L.K. Rigel's Apocalypto series:

Spiderwork is free at Amazon and Smashwords right now so hurry, don't miss it.

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