A review by anna_hepworth
Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky

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


Reading this was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Warrior (Lynesse Fourth Daughter) goes to ask for help from the Sorcerer In The Tower, who is actually no such thing, but an anthropologist, left behind. And the threat, described as 'demon' for half the book, is a creeping eldritch horror that was more convincingly awful than many I've read in more explicitly horror books. And there is a strong element of body horror in the way that this presents. 

This is a novella, so there isn't anything complicated in b-plot. But there doesn't need to be. The world building is lush, and complex. The exploration of how the past/future are alien to us was done really well, particularly in the chapter where two stories are told together in separate columns--this is a stylistic choice I've seen done a few times, often to juxtapose the colonial and colonised perspectives--which really highlighted the way that language can shift. 

The characterisation is strong, but some what difficult to relate to. Given that one of the viewpoint characters spends a lot of time actively (and effectively) suppressing all sensation of emotion, this is probably a necessary side effect of an accurate portrayal of the inside of their mind. 

Expand filter menu Content Warnings