Book Review: Too Light the Lightning; by Ada Palmer

From the paperback back cover:

Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of twenty-fifth century, to wander the world being useful to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a Senssayer – a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away.

The world into which Mycroft and Carlyle have been born is a hard-won utopia built on abundance, but also on mandatory systems of labeling all public writing and speech. What seem to us normal gender distinction are now taboo. And most of the world’s population is affiliated with globe-girdling clans of the like-minded, whose endless competition is managed by all-powerful technocrats. To us it seems like a mad combination of heaven and hell. To them, it seems like normal life.

Mycroft and Carlyle have stumbled on the wild card that may destabilize the system: the boy Bridger, who can effortlessly make his wishes come true. Who can, it would seem, bring inanimate objects to life…


I Loved This Book


This book hit my top 5 most favorite books ever list before I’d even finished it. The culture we’re immersed in I found, at times, a strange sort-of satirical realism, wondering if maybe Ms. Palmer wasn’t poking fun at current cultural directions and postulating where they would lead us in a few hundred years, all while maintaining a clear point-of-view of those living in the world who only know this way of thinking. It all made perfect sense, even in its complete jump from present-day norms. In its perfect sense, it posed deep questions I was forced to contemplate in a real, philosophical way while pulling me along to see where these questions would lead the story.

When they say this book has some of the best world building ever, they’re not overstating.

I also appreciated the reference, and application, of timeless philosophers, explaining differing schools of thought in the manner of which characters, and sub-cultures, in the world conducted their lives. Like a practical guide to applying philosophical dogma, it was great “watching” interpretations of schools-of-thought present themselves as the story moved forward, as well as seeing these differing schools confront alternate ways of living/thinking.

Told as a history from the point-of-view of those who lived the tale, I was easily pulled along by being given just enough information to know what was going on, yet wondering more about both the individual characters and the main story. Often, I got so side-tracked by a sub-plots, that I forgot about the main story, only to find this seeming irrelevant tangent, while spectacular in interest, was directly involved with the impending climax.

On completion of Too Like the Lightning, I instantly picked up book two; Seven Surrenders, and am currently waiting with bated breath for Book Three to be released in December.

This Speculative Fiction, Science Fiction is a must for anyone who enjoys these categories. As a huge lover of Frank Herbert’s Dune universe, Ada Palmer easily joins the shelf of forever favorites.

Curious how I review? Read this.


2 thoughts on “Book Review: Too Light the Lightning; by Ada Palmer

Add yours

  1. I keep seeing this book everywhere, and love my science fiction, but for some reason have not added this to my shopping list… done! Your review has inspired me and piqued my interest. Now I just have to stop time and indulge in reading many, many books on my ever increasing TBR…


    1. I’m so glad you’ll add it to your TBR!
      My list also seems to grow exponentially. I actually stopped opening up my Pixel of Ink and Bookbub emails to limit my susceptability to buy more books! These are real problems! 😉
      Let me know how you like it!

      Liked by 1 person

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