Review: Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky


The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . .

Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade his mind in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.

Eighty years ago, Earth was destroyed by an alien enemy. Many escaped, but millions more died. So mankind created enhanced humans ­such as Idris – who could communicate mind-to-mind with our aggressors. Then these ‘Architects’ simply disappeared and Idris and his kind became obsolete.

Now, Idris and his crew have something strange, abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects – but are they really returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy as they search for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, and many would kill to obtain it.


Adrian Tchaikovsky is the author of the acclaimed Shadows of the Apt fantasy series, from the first volume, Empire In Black and Gold in 2008 to the final book, Seal of the Worm, in 2014, with a new series and a standalone science fiction novel scheduled for 2015. He has been nominated for the David Gemmell Legend Award and a British Fantasy Society Award. In civilian life he is a lawyer, gamer and amateur entomologist.


I feel like I should set out my usual reading habits to give some insight as to my thoughts on this book. I’m pretty open to what genre I read in and tend not to favour any one genre, mostly listening out for buzz on books from fellow readers or going through stages of bingeing a particular genre for a few months or so. I’m certainly not a stranger to sci-fi fiction but I would say I’m more of a casual reader of it.

I picked up The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky last year and it was the first of the author’s work I’d read (I’m glossing over the fact that Children of Time has been on my TBR since the dawn of time). I enjoyed that book and so was very keen to take the opportunity to read Shards of Earth.

To cut to the chase….wow, this was great! It certainly takes you on an adventure and one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

The book throws us straight into the action. We’re on the front lines of a battle to stop the Architects from destroying Berlenhof, a planet at the heart of the colonies (the surviving human worlds following the destruction of Earth), with Solace and her sisters of the Parthenon and Idris, the fairly newly minted Intermediary. The scenes here are purely cinematic and I was gripped as we watched their desperate attempts to use Idris, this new “weapon” to beat back the Architect. 

Once we then move to the present day, we really start to get into the world that Tchaikovsky has built. It took me a while to get to grips with all the different species, the planets and their governments but there is helpfully a glossary, list of key players and timeline included in the book which is a good reference point for when you get too confused.

We get to know Idris and Solace and are introduced to the crew of the Vulture God and I LOVED them. They’re a bit of a ragtag bunch, with members of different species making up the crew. I got some Firefly vibes at first, but they soon disappeared as I got to know these characters and they made their own impression on me. Idris is quite a sad character at first, somewhat despondent and always seemingly on the edge of utter exhaustion and ripe to tip into insanity at any moment. We get to know his history and not only what he has been through but what he continues to be exposed to as he navigates his crew around space and unspace, the menacing place lurking just behind real space that Idris can guide the ship through to travel around quicker.

Solace is also an interesting character, seemingly more layered than the initial descriptions of her might suggest which becomes more and more apparent as she gets closer to being a fully fledged member of the crew. The rest of the crew too are great, I’d hope to see more of Kris in the sequel as she had an intriguing background.

This was an adventure story for me, following the most unlikely people who you would expect to be the ones trying to save….well, the universe. There are some creepy parts, some terribly sad parts and some humorous parts along the way.

I have friends who don’t read sci-fi, its not for them they say. But underneath all of the alien species, the strange planets and the spaceships, this is a story about people fighting to save life as they know it and fighting to save their friends and family.

I cannot wait for the next book to come out and I can see myself re-reading this one. I noticed that Sophie Aldred has narrated the audiobook version. I listened to her doing the audio of The Doors of Eden and thought she did a great job so might pick up the audio to catch myself up ahead of sequel coming out…..which I hope will be in the not to distant future!

5 Stars

Thanks to the publisher Tor and the author for an advance copy of the book, as well as The Write Reads tours.

2 thoughts on “Review: Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky

  1. An insightful review. It’s interesting that you’re read another book by this author. This was the first book of his I read. It felt more “Expanse” than “Firefly” to me, but it’s the same sort of thing. A motley crew with wildly different backgrounds pushed together in a salvage ship. I enjoyed it, too. 🙂


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