Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Ancestral Night by Elizabeth Bear: Blog Tour Review

Series: White Space, Book One
Publisher: Gollancz
Format: Paperback
Published: 7thMarch 2019
Number of Pages: 512
Book: For Review*
Genre: Sci-Fi, Space Opera, Action-Adventure, Mystery, Adult
Recommended Age: 15+
Contains: Violence, Death, Swearing, Alcohol and Drug References
Author’s Site: Elizabeth Bear 

Blurb From Goodreads:
Haimey Dz thinks she knows what she wants.
She thinks she knows who she is.
She is wrong.
A routine salvage mission uncovers evidence of a terrible crime and relics of powerful ancient technology. Haimey and her small crew run afoul of pirates at the outer limits of the Milky Way, and find themselves on the run and in possession of universe-changing information.
When authorities prove corrupt, Haimey realizes that she is the only one who can protect her galaxy-spanning civilization from the implications of this ancient technology—and the revolutionaries who want to use it for terror and war. Her quest will take her careening from the event horizon of the supermassive black hole at the galaxy’s core to the infinite, empty spaces at its edge.
To save everything that matters, she will need to uncover the secrets of ancient intelligences lost to time—and her own lost secrets, which she will wish had remained hidden from her forever. 

Haimey Dz is a salvager and engineer – together with her partner Connla and their shipmind Singer, she travels through space to locate old ships that have been abandoned and lost.
It’s during one such mission that she encounters the mutilated body of one the largest sentient beings to exist between worlds and an ancient ship with long forgotten technology...
Despite the obvious evidence of a crime, Haimey investigates the ship.  And there she discovers technology beyond belief – technology with the power to change the universe.
And the power to ruin her life.
Because now she’s on the run – from both the government and pirates – anything to keep this technology from falling into the wrong hands.
Such as the beautiful pirate Zanya Farweather, who holds secrets from Haimey’s past and threatens to crash through all her defences…
I’ve been reading more sci-fi lately – space operas are really beginning to grow on me after reading a few of Alastair Reynolds’s books.  So when I was offered the chance to read Ancestral Night, I of course agreed – especially when I was told my review would be part of the blog tour!  And so when my bookish package came through my letter box, I instantly got stuck in.  To begin with, I felt totally in over my head – as I always do with sci-fis, especially if I dip into a space opera after reading a bunch of fantasy.  But I soon realised not only is Bear brilliant at making heavy scientific facts seem fairly easy to understand, she’s also brilliant at weaving humour into the story.  I soon got to grip with all the terms and fell totally in love with the world building.  I was totally hooked and literally speed read the book to find out what happened!  
Plus oh my gosh, I’ve never read a truly feminist, girl-power space opera before.  This is literally everything I’ve been searching for in my life.  I am in love.  I did not know how badly I needed this book until I had this book in my hands. Because not only is Haimey a brilliant heroine – she’s also a believable one, capable and witty, brilliantly female and unapologetically gay.  Yes, if you haven’t gathered, I really loved Haimey.  I just loved that she wasn’t perfect or flawless or amazing at everything.  She made mistakes, she failed, she picked herself back up again and tried again.  Plus I just loved her wit and snark and stubbornness.  And I also loved how we slowly got to know more and more about her.
The rest of the cast was great – especially her crew!  I loved the dynamics between Haimey, Connla and Singer.  They were totally like family – bickering and bantering: it was perfect!  I also want to shout out Cheeirilaq for being totally unique and weirdly adorable.  And the cats for being just everything: they were everything, you guys.  Everything.
But yes, there was a lot of world building – mainly cause there were loads of worlds and ships and futuristic stuffs to explore.  I’m awful at science (I haven’t done it for years, in my defence) but I found everything really easy to understand – or, well, simple enough that I didn’t feel totally confused.  I think it really helped that the heavy science-y things were interspersed with jokes and drama and excitement and twists and turns a-plenty.  Basically, Bear nailed it.
Also I continue to be intrigued by the concept of ‘rightminding’ – basically manipulating your brain chemistry to affect your mood.  I don’t know if this is something that happens a lot in sci-fis (I’m still fairly new to this genre) but it was just something I found really interesting! 
I believe this is the first in a series – and I really hope it is.  I enjoyed this so much and I need more female-powered space operas in my life.  Please.  And guys, if you’re looking for a non-stop adventure through space, pick up Ancestral Night.  It’s really one of the most fun sci-fis I’ve read for ages and I can’t recommend it enough!

Star Rating:
4 Out Of 5 Stars

Read this book if you liked:
The Illuminae Files by Jay Kristoff and Aimee Kaufman
Prefect Dreyfus Emergency by Alastair Reynolds
Skyward by Brandon Sanderson

Happy Reading
*This book was received from Gollancz in exchange for an honest review


Previous Stop On The Blog Tour: Cover 2 Cover
Next Stop On The Blog Tour: Sci-Fi Bulletin, Rambling Mads


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