When I reviewed Century Rain a while back, I mentioned that I planned to catch up on Alastair Reynolds’ earlier books. And I’ve now got round to reading the first one. Revelation Space was first published in 2000, so I’m a wee bit behind with this…
What we have here is big bold space opera, which is the kind of thing I’ve always had a soft spot for.
Dan Sylveste is virtual ruler of a small colony and leader of an archaeological expdition on an isolated planet. For reasons that are not at first clear, he is driven to discover more about the Amaranthin, the former occupiers of the planet, destroyed the best part of a million years earlier. At a crucial point, his regime is overthrown, and he is imprisoned.
Ana Khouri, formerly a soldier in the wars on a planet known as Sky’s Edge, finds herself separated from her husband and obliged to work as an assassin in Chasm City, a place damaged by a previous catastrophe on Yellowstone. She is recruited by someone known only as The Mademoiselle for a special mission. She joins the crew of a “lighthugger” ship which is heading for Resurgam, where Dan Sylveste is imprisoned.
What follows is complex and rewarding. Information is delivered gradually, and hardly anything is as it first seems. As the book ends, it’s apparent that something Very Bad has been alerted to the existence of humanity. The same something that destroyed the Amaranthin, and many other civilisations. Something left over from wars in the distant past.
There’s a feeling of a huge depth to the universe Reynolds has created, with many details only hinted at here. Perhaps more will be revealed in his other books. I’ll be reviewing his second book once I’ve finished reading it.
 No faster-than-light stuff here.