Epeolatry Book Review: Shards of Earth by Adrian Tchaikovsky


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Title: Shards of Earth
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: 3rd August, 2021

Synopsis: The Arthur C. Clarke award-winning author of Children of Time brings us an extraordinary space opera about humanity on the brink of extinction, and how one man’s discovery will save or destroy us all.

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery . . . Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade him in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers. After earth was destroyed, mankind created a fighting elite to save their species, enhanced humans such as Idris. In the silence of space they could communicate, mind-to-mind, with the enemy. Then their alien aggressors, the Architects, simply disappeared—and Idris and his kind became obsolete. Now, fifty years later, Idris and his crew have discovered something strange abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects—but are they returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy hunting for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, that many would kill to obtain.

Shards of Earth is Book One of Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Final Architecture series. I found Tchaikovsky through his Children of Time series and was excited for another epic sci-fi series from him. So far, he has not disappointed me.


Tchaikovsky brings us an entire universe where Earth is no longer and humanity lives in scattered ships and on distant planets. Only instead of destroying ourselves, the planet is transformed into a twisted gothic art sculpture by mysterious moon-sized entities nicknamed the “Architects”. The Architects are a fascinating concept in this series; unknowable vast creatures that sculpt the universe around them, shaping planets and ships into new shapes, regardless of whether they are inhabited or not. Nothing could stop them or slow them down until Idris Telemmier touched their minds.


Idris is part of a special class called the “Intermediaries” or “Ints”. The Ints are forged through a dangerous and complicated transformation process that kills more than it creates. After the war drove the Architects away, Idris moved from war-hero to obscure navigator on a salvage ship called the “Vulture God” complete with a ragtag crew of misfits. This crew is the heart of the book and, I assume, the series. Their personalities and backgrounds make them unique, and their interactions elevate the story. My particular favorite characters include Solace, the “warrior angel” from an all female race of soldiers born in vats, Kris the knife-fighting lawyer, and Olli the gruff spacer who never holds her tongue. 


The plot is simple on the surface–the crew finds potential evidence of the Architect’s return and they are chased by everyone and everybody who wants to get their hands on it. But like any solid first book in a series, this simple plot structure introduces the world-building and the overarching plot and stakes regarding the Architects and the secrets of the universe.


It’s an excellent opening to a new epic sci-fi series, and I am excited for the rest of it.


Available from Amazon and Bookshop.

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