Seven Surrenders, by Ada Palmer
Science Fiction; Speculative Fiction
Book two in the Terra Ignota series, Seven Surrenders was a fantastic follow-up to Too Like the Lightning. More kernels of information about the nuances of the peaceful “utopian” culture, interlaced with interpretations of philosophies of old directly creating attitudes and behaviors was a nerdy bonus I couldn’t help but love.
Series Summation Thus Far
I found this on Ada Palmer‘s website. It’s a much better summation than I could give of the Terra Ignota series:
Science fiction often has asked contemporary questions of an imagined future. In the four-volume Terra Ignota novel series, author Ada Palmer has reflected this tradition back upon itself, exploring the questions the brilliant world of 2454 might ask when faced with its own unknowable future. After citizenship and religion, family and language, law and freedom have been utterly reformed over half a century of war and three centuries of peace, where do the denizens of a near-Utopia turn for answers when their world order faces upheaval? A notorious criminal genius is the historian of the world’s remaking; a mysterious spiritual counselor seeks truth in a world that has atomized religion; carnality and high politics join to preserve the old order as a rumored god, an omnipotent child, a celebrity assassin and a living myth struggle to shape the future as a rediscovered orator calls for inevitable war.
A Masterfully Told Story Continues
A masterfully built world continues. Precise amounts of information slowly trickled out through interactions and tellings of interactions is a beautiful exercise in allowing the reader to be shown rather than told. I’m a fan.
I especially love the use, or should I say non-use, of pronouns. Attitude dictates sexual connotation rather than gender. This point is seen more in Seven Surrenders than in Too Like the Lightning (purposefully done to ease us in?), and as confusing at it can be to remember, or even know, who is male or female, it’s a fantastic exercise in realizing IT DOESN’T MATTER.
Continuing a path through different philosophies, it was refreshing to have different sides of an argument stated clearly. Any telling of a story is typically sided to an agenda, however benign that might be. Here, we find a story that, as soon as we think what way we’re being swayed, we’re taken back the other way. I love that. Our narrator, Mycroft Canner, is the epitome of objective observation. This point is pressed upon us in a conversation he has with the child Bridger, the one he’s been the most careful to lead purposefully to a greatness the child should find of his own decisions, rather than the tethered lead of others.
We also see more of the crossing intricacies of each faction, which, realistically, creates points of contention that aren’t necessarily correct, or most important to the greater story, except to those characters who don’t have the information the others do, especially the reader. The reader isn’t given all points of view, but much more than others in the story. I found it entertaining to see characters making decisions based on bad, or assumed, information. I greatly appreciate and respect this level of writing. My brain hurts thinking about the notes and outlines that must have gone into the planning for this series. My favorite book, Dune, by Frank Herbert, has nothing on Ada Palmer‘s politics 😉
The rush to save the world from pending war comes to a head in Seven Surrenders, with an ending that took me by surprise. I’ve already pre-ordered The Will to Battle, book 3, which releases on December 19th, 2017. I’m such a fan of these books, I’ve even ordered physical copies, rather than the typical Kindle version that has taken over 99% of my library.
Happy reading! 🙂
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