Luna: Moon Rising

If you've been following the Hotlist for a while, you are aware that every single Ian McDonald adult novel I've read since creating this blog has ended up in my Top 10 for that year. Hence, I was pretty excited when I learned that he was taking a break from his foray into the YA market to return to the more hardcore science fiction works that made him an award-winning author. And yet, although Luna: New Moon was another quality read, it wasn't quite as captivating as books such as River of Gods, Brasyl, or The Dervish House. As the first installment in a promising two-book cycle, it wasn't as self-contained and satisfying as those stand-alone novels.

Imagine my disappointment when I learned--after finishing reading Luna: Wolf Moon, it must be said--that this series was now a trilogy. I was expecting a thrilling endgame and a great finale. Not a middle book. Still, McDonald definitely upped the ante and that second volume set the stage for what could be a memorable finale.

Which brings us to Luna: Moon Rising, the final chapter in this series. I had high expectations for this one, it goes without saying. And unfortunately, suffering from the same shortcomings that plagued its predecessor, the book failed to live up to the potential generated by the first two installments. It's a good book, mind you. Trouble is, Ian McDonald has accustomed us to great scifi works, not merely good ones.

Here's the blurb:

The continuing saga of the Five Dragons, Ian McDonald's fast-paced, intricately plotted space opera pitched as Game of Thrones meets The Expanse.

A hundred years in the future, a war wages between the Five Dragons—five families that control the Moon’s leading industrial companies. Each clan does everything in their power to claw their way to the top of the food chain—marriages of convenience, corporate espionage, kidnapping, and mass assassinations.

Through ingenious political manipulation and sheer force of will, Lucas Cortas rises from the ashes of corporate defeat and seizes control of the Moon. The only person who can stop him is a brilliant lunar lawyer, his sister, Ariel.

Witness the Dragons' final battle for absolute sovereignty in Ian McDonald's heart-stopping finale to the Luna trilogy.

Understandably, Tor Books continues to market these novels as Game of Thrones on the moon. With rivalries between families/corporations at the heart of the story, to a certain extent it is an apt description. But it is much more than that. To all ends and purposes, it has more to do with rival mafia families than competing corporate entities, so in many ways it is more The Godfather than Game of Thrones. Like George R. R. Martin's bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire, it's an extremely devious and cutthroat environment where absolutely anything can happen. There is no law on the moon. Everything can be negotiated. And in the end, everything is.

As always, Ian McDonald's worldbuilding is incredible. Using the moon as a backdrop, the author managed to capture the essence of what living and thriving in such harsh conditions entail. His prose once again brought the moon and its inhabiants to life in vivid fashion. His eye for details creates an imagery and an atmosphere that is nothing short of stunning. Whatever the premise of his novels, McDonald's narrative always makes you feel as though you're part of the action. In that regard at least, Luna: Moon Rising features the same kind of superior worldbuilding that made River of Gods and The Dervish House such amazing reads.

Once more, characterization was the aspect of this book that left the most to be desired. The multi-perspective narrative habitually works well for Ian McDonald. Still, one has to wonder if there was need for so many POV characters in Luna: New Moon and Luna: Wolf Moon. Too often in this trilogy, it feels as though lots of scenes and/or points of view turn out to be extraneous material that bring little or nothing to the storylines. The enormous cast of characters is comprised of disparate protagonists and you can never tell how these multilayered plotlines will come together at the end. As always, there is the usual confusion of not really understanding where the author is taking the plot. If you are an Ian McDonald fan, that comes with the territory, no matter what book you're reading. And when the various threads come together and you finally understand what is actually going on, it is usually awesome. Problem is, the Luna novels are a veritable mess of POVs. And since most of the names sound the same, too often was I forced to go to the back of the book to peruse the Dramatis Personae. As a big Malazan fan, numerous protagonists/plotlines have never been a problem for me. But when it's hard to differentiate them from one another, regardless of what family they're from, it becomes a serious issue. Ultimately, I felt that Luna: Moon Rising would have benefited from a more limited amount of perspectives.

In terms of rhythm, Ian McDonald more or less followed the same blueprint he used for the first two volumes. The pace is relatively slow for the first 2/3 of the book, and then things pick up and the endgame turned out to be quite unpredictable. The finale was compelling and closed the show with style. Still, as was the case with its predecessors, a more balanced rhythm would have made Luna: Moon Rising more enjoyable.

Mostly known for his stand-alone science fiction works, given the smaller wordcount Ian Mc Donald has always excelled within a more constraining framework. Writing a trilogy meant that he could really open things up and it appears that the author may have gone a little too over-the-top with the characterization. Which, in the end, certainly didn't work as well as I thought it would.

As I mentioned, the Luna trilogy is a good series, but not as gripping and engrossing as some of his previous works. As such, if you are not yet acquainted with the author, these books may not be the best jumping point for new readers. I'd recommend reading the aforementioned science fiction titles by Ian McDonald before giving his latest series a shot.

The final verdict: 7.5/10

For more info about this title, please follow this link.

1 commentaires:

lakso said...

I tried the link and it routes me to Amazon UK.
However from Sweden we are only allowed to buy Kindle books from Amazon US for some reason.
Thus the new way of linking does not work for us.