I speak here somewhat frequently of my desire for authors to take risks, even within the confines of their own genre. And boy does Robinson do that in spades here – and yet they all work to combine to make the book so much better than the sum of its parts. He speaks of politics and religion – two areas he tends to not discuss with any level of commentary even while building in numerous allegories through many of his books – and yet it totally works within the context of the story he is building here and never feels preachy at all. He has much more nudity than is typical of his books, which while sometimes pretty gory are almost never explicit nudity. (Though to be clear, no sex scenes, just nude bodies.) The man who literally named a character “F-Bomb” yet rarely actually drops them in his writing uses several of them here – and again, within the context of this story they work to enhance the realism. Even the more pure fantasy elements – again, something Robinson typically doesn’t use – work well to enhance the story here (and are used fairly sparingly, even though critical to the plot at points).
Overall simply one of Robinson’s best in recent memory, and a bit more arguably one of the best he’s ever written. If you’re looking for Robinson to return to the frenetic balls to the wall action of some of his earlier tales – you’ve found it. Very much recommended.
And as always, the Goodreads/ Amazon review:
The Master Takes Risks. In this latest book from the Modern Day Master of Science Fiction, Robinson takes some risks he is usually far more conservative with – and they totally work within the context of this particular tale. Robinson generally doesn’t get very close to fantasy level tales, generally avoids out right F-bombs (even when he literally *names a character F-Bomb!*), and generally avoids the copious nudity it seems so many authors rely on at times. He also generally lays off religious or political commentary. And yet this particular book contains all of the above. The fantasy elements work well, reminiscent of Loki’s armor showing up in The Avengers while he is speaking or walking around somewhere. (And another point is reminiscent of another MCU scene from a more recent movie, but openly discussing that one gets closer to spoiler territory than this reviewer would like to get.) Continuing to seemingly build to an Avengers Level Event 2, Robinson here gives himself what will quite likely become his “Hulk” level character if that ever comes about. Excellent book, and very much recommended.