Reviews

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi

sunscour's review against another edition

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4.0

This was an excellent hard science fiction story. I loved the mystery and the science. Thinking and memories, weird stuff.

siborg237's review

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adventurous challenging mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

3.25

korl's review against another edition

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adventurous emotional mysterious reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.75

(I'm sorry this is an audio review idk how anything is spelled)

What a fun scifi about memories and who people really are. I loved the different factions and will probably continue on, but don't feel that I *need* to because this book let me know what every faction was about despite only giving me context clues. So well written and what a fun world to build. I loved how the Xoku (?) were just brainrot gamers, the Sovernost (?) were the exact end of "a million of myself" and the Martians were representing tradition, even if that tradition was made up.

The twists didn't feel super... twisty just because
of course every main character is somehow related
but I still thought they were set up well. I also really didn't care about Jean le Flambeur that much but that's okay because the supporting cast was amazing! I want to learn more about Miehle (?) and her culture

Also the ship is best girl I love her

samhenrichs's review against another edition

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adventurous lighthearted fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

3.5

princessvee's review against another edition

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adventurous challenging mysterious tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

3.5

A super humorous, quick-witted yet emotionally intelligent mystery novel, perfect to get out of a reading slump. A complex opening due to the immense world-building necessary, but overall a wonderfully action-packed read.

timinbc's review against another edition

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5.0

Five stars, not because it's perfect but because it gives a hearty kick to the boundaries of SF. And it's a mind-stretcher.
Neal Asher's review in this thread noted the complexity, and Asher is no stranger to complexity and challenging concepts.

You MUST be comfortable with hard SF to have any chance at all of enjoying this. And if you need everything explained, go rread something else. Dan Schwent's review here is a good overview.

Several people here mentioned reading it twice, and it won't hurt to read a glossary. The one on Wikipedia mentioned herein is gone, but if you Google "Flambeau glossary" you'll find several versions.

I got many of the literary/language references, but for about 200 pages I couldn't stop thinking that Mieli was a dishwashing machine.

There's an enormous collection of vastly powerful entities here, but most are believable. I felt Rajaniemi went a bit far with Mieli's ship - an interesting character in its own right - when he told us it's grown from coral and built by Mieli singing.

I am going to look for Volume 2 now, but first I'm going to read several lightweight space operas, or some fluffy fantasy. My brain hurts.

amblygon_writes's review against another edition

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3.0

Being a fellow Finn, I had to read this and see what all the hype was about. To put it simply: my opinion of it is that it was good, but it did not deserve the hype.

I began the book carefully, trying to avoid any expectations. To be honest, I think it was a very good book in the beginning - it had so much potential. The characters seemed mysterious and exciting, the setting had the familiarity of a sci-fi book but was still unique and intriguing, and the plot definitely had sunk a few hooks into me. I even enjoyed his writing style; although not perfect, it was a great achievement for a first novel.

However, before I even reached the middle of the book, I felt that the story had started to wilt, and by the end, it fallen flat on its face. I just don't understand what happened to those animated characters and the explosive setting that they were exploring. After getting bogged down on that one planet (which was an interesting planet granted), the plot starts to crumble and the characters are forced into narrower and narrower plot twists that end up flattening them. I think he had a great story (the whole wide universe was brimming with plots that I would've loved to hear more about), but some strange decisions were made that ultimately disappointed me.

To keep it short, I'll mention only one specifically. I felt that one of the biggest disappointments was all the family drama at the end. The relationships and characters seemed artificial, and for me it had too much of a Skywalker-family feel to it.

A last quick comment on his use of science. Some reviewers said that they felt that the book had too much science jargon, but I personally found it to be at a perfect level. Even though I didn't understand everything completley (physics is definitely not one of my strongest or most favoured subjects), I did not feel hopelessly lost. There was just enough technicalities to remind me of the complexity of physics, but not too much to make me feel like an idiot.

All in all, an interesting read; I definitely don't regret reading it. I would give the beginning 4 stars, maybe even 4.5, but the end barely deserves 2 stars. Right now, I'm eager to read more of his work in which he hopefully will let his characters bloom and explode and develop in vivid and wonderful ways.

lotak's review against another edition

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medium-paced

3.0

guppyur's review against another edition

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3.0

Takes a while to get going, ends up quite good. I don't read a lot of harder sci-fi; it was a little hard to get past some of the made-up terminology since it's never really explained, but you learn to roll with it. Ended up enjoying it, but I did consider abandoning it once or twice. By the end there is some very cool stuff going on, plotwise.

aceinit's review against another edition

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5.0

This book was my first foray into literary sci-fi. I stumbled onto it via an article about the cover artist, and found the synopsis interesting. Unfortunately, the writer’s style combined with a gross unfamiliarly with the genre almost turned me off of the novel.

As the quests and stories of the novel’s central characters—imprisoned master thief Jean le Flambeur, his warden/rescuer Meili, amateur detective Isidore Beautrelet—are slowly brought forth to be unraveled, the shape of the world and its unusual terminology also becomes clear.

The reader is thrown into the thick of action via Jean’s prison break, and the author throws his terminology around without context for the first third or so of the novel, leading to a profound sense of bewilderment, and I feel the novel would have profited by explaining the critical concepts (such as the gogols, the gevulot system and the unique life cycle of Mars in relation to the living/Quiet) earlier to prevent initial reader frustration. As things stood, I almost gave up on this novel. It was only be deciding to suffer through one or two more chapters that I got to the heart of the story and my headache-inducing initial read paid off big time.

As Jean continues his search for the portions of his identity he has hidden even from from himself, and as Isidore and his mysterious psudeo-benefactor the Gentleman delve into the mysteries and conspiracies surrounding the moving city of the Oubliette, their stories slowly come together to form a beautiful and unexpected narrative.

Perhaps it was because I was out of my element with this book, but each twist came as a genuine surprise. The developments concerning
SpoilerRaymonde as The Gentleman’s true identity and the twist pertaining to Jean/Le Roi and Raymonde as Isidore’s parents
both threw me, and when Jean realizes the final price he must pay for regaining his lost memories his old life, I was riveted.

Now, onto the criticisms. For such a complex novel, I was surprised to see it suffer from a plethora of basic typos (you instead of your and a few other pronoun mistakes being the most prominent), particularly in the second half.

I was also surprised by how, following a huge battle in an art gallery when Jean and Meili attempt to win over a potential ally, news of the event is nowhere to be found in the Oubliette media, yet news of Isidore’s drunken night at the zoku party is the talk of the town. News of the massive, destructive disturbance at Raymonde’s apartment? Never mentioned again. In fact, very little news of damage seems to get through to the general public. I am on the fence about whether this was a deliberate comment on the state of
Spoilerthe exomemory/government control/whatever
or a genuine plot hole. I am leaning towards the latter.

There is also an issue of
Spoiler paternity that the story would have been just fine without. Not everything has to be infused with “Luke, I am your father,” drama, yet it seems like everything I have read lately has felt the need to use this gimmick. There is nothing gained from a learning Isidore’s parentage that could have not been accomplished through Raymonde simply having a conscience, which she already has. And I found the whole “the prince must inherit the key to the kingdom" thing just plain silly.


Both Jean and Isidore are beautifully rendered, and though I found Isidore the more engaging character, the glimpses we are given into Jean’s past are both poignant and intriguing. This is a man who has been around long enough to refer to this world’s gods as his old drinking buddies. I look forward to finding out more about his past in future installments.

Rajaniemi has left a lot of unresolved threads in this novel, the first of a trilogy. I am looking forward to the future volumes, and will be adding them all to my collection. It will also be interesting to see if, and how, Jean and Meili cross paths with Isidore again, or if his part of the story has come to an end.

A few random notes:

Sherlock may be the most adorable pet in all of sci-fi petdom. No, I don’t have a lot to draw from. But he is awesome.

As an avid player of MMOs, I found the concept of the zoku particularly fascinating. I really loved the concept of an entire species evolving from an MMO raiding guild, and I feel their representation was fairly accurate of exactly how that species would behave.

Perhonen was also delightfully charming. A spaceship who is a shameless flirt and who can kick ass. She won me over far faster than Jean or Meili.