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Tillabooks: Will's Book Blog

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Ragamuffin by Tobias S. Buckell

Ragamuffin by Tobias S. Buckell. New York: Tor, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-7653-1507-6

When I picked this book up off my local library's new books shelf, and even when I started reading it, I had no idea that it was a sequel to another book, Crystal Rain, which I reviewed back on March 18 of this year. I guess I didn't notice for a couple of reasons. For one, Crystal Rain was Buckell's first novel, so he was an author new to me. When I picked up this book, I knew I'd read something by him recently, but I didn't pay enough attention to realize this was the sequel, even though it's mentioned in the flyleaf blurb.

But more significantly, when I started to read the book, there was nothing initially that seemed to even remotely connect with the previous story. Crystal Rain took place on a single planet, with humankind fighting against inimical alien control, with the assistance of another set of aliens.

Here, instead, we have a whole region of space, a whole array of galactic locations, joined in a complex, but limited web of wormholes. Referred to as the "Benevolent Satrapy" in the star map printed at the front of the book. When the book opens, we find ourselves in a society in which various alien races are treating humans as pets. A clever woman kills one of them, and escapes. She seems to be a hired gun assassin, a physically enhanced fighter, who narrowly escapes capture, and is on a mission of her own.

Meanwhile the so-called Benevolent Satrapy no longer seems entirely benevolent. It seems to have begun turning on humankind, and beginning a policy of genocide against them. About half-way through the book, we're back on New Anegada, the planet where Crystal Rain took place, picking up the lives of the characters where Crystal Rain left off. Things get complicated, but let's just say that various human factions are not only fighting various alien races, but sometimes each other, in an attempt to better the overall position of the human race.

It's a complicated universe, and I can't say as I quite understand it all just yet, but it makes for a good story line, with plenty of action, and plenty to try and twist your mind around. Buckell is a good writer, even if the universe he's created is a bit more complex than would seem to be required. Recommended for most SciFi fans. BTW, you can read a significant portion of the book online, for free. Of course, you can read it for free via your local public library, too.

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