Crystal Rain by Tobias Buckell-- Review
I really enjoyed reading this book. It is the first book in the Ragamuffin series. Ragamuffin was the second book. There is a third book in the series which I am hoping to read soon. I thought this book was better in many ways than Ragamuffin. The setting is wonderful. It is set in the country of Nanagada, on a planet in the far future. Caribbeans and South Americans settled the planet originally creating two distinct cultures, the Azteca and the Nanagadans. There are also the Tolteca who are mentioned briefly in the story who have fled the Azteca homeland.
The story is set around one John De Brun, a fisherman who has lost his memory. He is also the hero of the story who has to make a long journey to recover a fallen starship. He must escape the Azteca, and save the day. There is escape, capture, intrigue, fighting, and all the good stuff that makes an adventure story. I like the soldiers of the Nanagadans, the Mongoose Men.
The Azteca are a group of humans who are ruled by the Teotl, aliens who have taken on the role of cruel gods from humanities past. The aliens are trying to keep humans in a fallow state as worshippers and soldiers. They have reshaped human culture along ancient lines to be cruel and ruthless. The aliens are masters of biological engineering and have created a few monsters to add some spice to the story.
There is a counterpart among the Nanagadans, the Loa, a group of aliens who have taken on religious purpose of their own. When the humans arrived on the planet, they became involved in an ancient conflict between the Loa and Teotl. Humans became unwitting pawns in the initial conflict. There is a faction of humans, the Preservationists who have driven the Loa underground and redeveloped human technology.
The technology in this story is interesting in addition to the Caribbean and Aztec style cultures. Most of the fighting occurs using steam age technology. There are battles in airships, in the jungle, on the ice, and on ships. You see glimpses of a bygone cataclysm. There are rusted hulks of ships in the oceans, in the north, there are frozen over cities with glass office towers.
As the story advances, we learn John De Brun is more than he seems. He does not age, and sometimes he has uncanny skills of survival.
An intriguing story with a unique setting. I really enjoyed reading this book.