A review of Martha Wells' The Edge of Worlds

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Martha Wells' The Edge of Worlds will be published by Night Shade Books in April 2016.

Information about Martha Wells:

Martha Wells is the author of five Ile-Rien novels (The Element of Fire, The Death of the Necromancer, The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air and The Gate of Gods), Books of the Raksura trilogy (The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea and The Siren Depths), City of Bones, Wheel of the Infinite, the Emilie series (Emilie and the Hollow World and Emilie and the Sky World), two Stargate Atlantis novels (Stargate Atlantis: Reliquary and Stargate Atlantis: Entanglement) and one Star Wars novel (Razor's Edge). She has also written short stories and non-fiction articles.

Click here to visit her official website.

Information about The Edge of Worlds:

An expedition of groundlings from the Empire of Kish have traveled through the Three Worlds to the Indigo Cloud court of the Raksura, shape-shifting creatures of flight that live in large family groups. The groundlings have found a sealed ancient city at the edge of the shallow seas, near the deeps of the impassable Ocean. They believe it to be the last home of their ancestors and ask for help getting inside. But the Raksura fear it was built by their own distant ancestors, the Forerunners, and the last sealed Forerunner city they encountered was a prison for an unstoppable evil.

Prior to the groundlings' arrival, the Indigo Cloud court had been plagued by visions of a disaster that could destroy all the courts in the Reaches. Now, the court's mentors believe the ancient city is connected to the foretold danger. A small group of warriors, including consort Moon, an orphan new to the colony and the Raksura's idea of family, and sister queen Jade, agree to go with the groundling expedition to investigate. But the predatory Fell have found the city too, and in the race to keep the danger contained, the Raksura may be the ones who inadvertently release it.

The Edge of Worlds, from celebrated fantasy author Martha Wells, returns to the fascinating world of The Cloud Roads for the first book in a new series of strange lands, uncanny beings, dead cities, and ancient danger.


Martha Wells' The Edge of the Worlds is an outstanding and delightfully original fantasy novel for adults. It's a wonderful new instalment in the Books of the Raksura series. It's an unputdownable novel that hooks you from the very start, because it begins a new story arc that expands the author's fantasy world in an entertaining and exciting way. It's an excellent antidote to bland and mediocre fantasy novels that most bookshops are filled with, because it's pure quality from start to finish.

The Edge of Worlds is every bit as good and intriguing as the previous Raksura novels. It's everything that fans of the series have come to expect from the series - it's an entertaining, exciting and enjoyable novel with excellent characterisation and original story. It continues the saga of the shapeshifting Raksura in a fascinating way, because the author explores her fantasy world further and reveals new things to readers. It takes the beloved characters on a journey of discovery towards an ancient and unknown city that may contain something dangerous inside its walls.

Readers who are familiar with the previous novels will get the most out of The Edge of Worlds, but I think that newcomers will also love it, because it has been written in a way that allows new readers to enjoy it. It's possible that a few things may be difficult to understand if you haven't read any of the previous novels, but I'm sure that you'll enjoy the intriguing story. It's nice that the author reveals bits and pieces about the Raksura and their way of life as the story begins to ulfold, because it gives new readers an opportunity to get to know them better and old fans will be able to refreshen their memories about them. It's possible that The Edge of Worlds may be a bit overwhelming reading experience to new readers due to the amount of new names and races, but I advise readers to bear with it, because they'll be rewarded with a good story and everything will make sense when the story unfolds.

After being fascinated by the three previous novels and the two excellent short story collections, I had high expectations for this novel. I was positively surprised when the story exceeded my expectations and the author delivered the anticipated delights big time. I have to admit that I'm amazed at the amount of freshness this novel has. The author has created a strong story that rivals the previous novels and even surpasses them on certain levels. This novel is an irresistible tour-de-force of excellent storytelling and fine characterisation. I honestly think that we need more this kind of adult fantasy, because there are way too many mediocre fantasy novels that lack originality.

I consider The Edge of the Worlds to be one of the most addictive and entertaining fantasy novels of the year, because it's a thoroughly enjoyable and satisfyingly original novel that lacks all the weak spots that plague many contemporary fantasy novels. Martha Wells moves the story forward in an entertaining way and doesn't get stuck on meaningless issues, but masterfully keeps everything in motion and delivers surprises and fascinating scenes to her readers. It's great that she has paid attention to developing a good story and doesn't prematurely rush into action.

Here's a bit of information about the story:

- At the beginning, Moon and the other Raksura share a nightmare about the Fell attacking the Reaches and their colony. The Raksura feel uneasy about the shared dream, because nothing like it has ever happened before and nobody seems to know why it happened.

- A bit later, Moon and the others meet a Golden Islander called Delin who tells them of an ancient city that has been found by the people of Kish-Jandera. Delin fears that the city may have been built by the forerunners, just like the city that was discovered on the northwestern coast. Callumkal, Master Scholar of the Conclave of the Janderan, intends to enter the city and wishes to be as forearmed as possible. There are signs that the Fell may have found the ancient city.

- The Raksura decide to help the groundlings. A group of them accompany the groundlings to the ancient city...

If there are readers out there who haven't read any of the previous Raksura novels, below are a few words about the Raksura, because in order to fully enjoy this novel you need to know something about them.

The Raksura are shapeshifting beings who have the ability to shift their appearance from a winged form to a groundling form. The Raksuran court is ruled by a queen. There are two breeds of the Raksura: the Arbora who have no wings and the Aeriat who are winged Raksura. The Arbora are divided into four castes: hunters, mentors, soldiers and teachers, and the Aeriat are divided into warriors, consorts and queens.

I'll also say a few words about the Fell who are the enemy of the Raksura. The Fell are divided into major kethels, minor dakti, rulers and progenitors. Major kethel is the largest of the Fell and the dakti are smallest of the Fell, but neither are very intelligent. The rulers are intelligent and can control the lesser Fell.

The Raksuran colony and social hierarchy has an intriguingly entomological structure, because the author uses elements that remind readers of the insect world and how insects behave in hives. This adds an intriguing layer of depth and originality to the story.

One of the things that makes this novel a success is the social dynamics of the Raksura, because the author writes excellently about issues related to the Raksuran behaviour, relationships and court manners. What goes on in the Indigo Cloud Court and among its inhabitants is genuinely interesting, because the author examines politics and relationships in a fresh way. I love the way the author writes about these issues from Moon's perspective, because Moon is a bit different from the other Raksura and he easily notices the differences between him and the others.

The characterisation is excellent, because the author has created fully fleshed characters that continue to develop and grow with each new novel. Although the Raksura are not humans and differ from humans in terms of appearance and social structure, they resemble humans in certain ways and have humane feelings. It's great that all of the characters have their own distinct voices.

Moon is a genuinely interesting and wonderfully three-dimensional protagonist. In this novel, Moon has settled into his life as Jade's consort, but he still has a few things to learn. Because he grew up alone, he doesn't know everything about the Raksura and their secrets and abilities. He has accepted certain things about himself and the other Raksura, but still has a bit of problems with some of them. The other Raksura have learned to accept him and his slightly strange and independent behaviour, which differs quite a lot from what they've come to expect from consorts.

I enjoyed reading about Moon's struggle with his feelings, because the author writes convincingly about his feelings. He has a lot of things on his mind, because he has a clutch and should stay at the court, but he is not an ordinary consort. Because he is not a normal kind of a consort, he decides to participate in the voyage to the ancient city.

The dialogues between the different Raksura are nuanced and wonderfully poignant. Martha Wells has a talent for writing realistic dialogues that feel believable. I find it intriguing that there are small grains of humour and sarcasm in some of the dialogues, because it's refreshing to read this kind of dialogues.

The relationship between Pearl and the other Raksura is fascinating, because there are tensions. Pearl is a queen who has her own opinions about many things and her vision of how things should be may clash with the others. She has good days and bad days with some of the other Raksura. The loss of her consort seems to have affected her greatly and she hasn't recovered from it.

Rorra is an interesting character, because she's a sealing and can produce different scents that may be recognised by others. She has lost a set of fins and has been changed by a healer to be able to breath air at all times. She has found work with Callumkal.

Kalam is also an interesting character, because he's of different race and has recently chosen his gender. He hasn't yet learned to be wary of strangers, but is interested in exploring places.

I also liked the way the author wrote about Delin, Vendoin and Callumkal. In my opinion, she writes fluently about them.

It was fascinating to read about the forerunners and their secrets, because the Raksura and the Fell come from this ancient species. The forerunners are a mystery to the Raksura, because nobody knows anything about them.

It's nice that the author writes fluently and maturely about the sex life of the Raksura. Their different kind of biology allows them to have easy, friendly and casual sex. Breeding may be a serious business because of the various bloodlines, but sex is an altogether different matter.

The author also writes well about a species that chooses their gender when they're near maturity. I think it's great that she has created this kind of species, because it's difficult to find something like this in other fantasy novels.

Reading about the shared dream was very intriguing for me, because it had never happened before to the Raksura. They were aware of the fact it's theoretically possible for it to happen, but nobody had ever experienced it and knew nothing about it. They were worried about the dream, because it predicted doom for them in the form of the Fell attacking the Reaches.

I enjoyed reading about the voyage to the ancient city, because the author wrote well about it. It was genuinely intriguing to read about how Moon and the others travelled to the ancient on the flying boat and what they encountered during the voyage. I'm aware of the fact that there are readers out there who are used to constant action scenes and think that novels containing long voyages may be boring to read. I can say to these readers that there's nothing boring about the voyage in this novel, because the author's writing will keep you absorbed in the story.

The ancient city is a magnificent and mysterious sight. It will please readers who enjoy reading adventure stories that feature old and possibly dangerous cities. It was nice to read about how the Raksura tried to enter the city, because they feared that the Fell might spy on them. There's a wonderful sense of mystery in this novel, because the Raksura don't know what they may find in the city.

Just like in the previous novels, the fight scenes with the Fell are admirably executed and fresh. When you read about how the Raksura fight against the Fell, you'll be able to feel how much they hate and distrust the Fell.

The Edge of Worlds features a good balance between entertainment, originality, depth, adventure, politics and characterisation. It's actually amazing how fluently all of this works in this novel, because nothing feels forced or artificial. All the tiny pieces and different elements fit perfectly together and form a fantastic story.

One of the reasons why I like this novel and the whole series is that the author explores perfectly how the groundlings feel about the Raksura and vice versa. There are several tensions between them, because the groundlings often mistake the Raksura for the Fell due to their similar appearance. The groundlings may be confused, frightened and even hostile when they meet the Raksura.

What makes The Edge of Worlds stand out among other fantasy novels is the author's passion for storytelling and and her strong worldbuilding. Martha Wells has created a strong and addictive story that adds depth and more sense of wonder to her fantasy world. She has also created three-dimensional characters that are wonderfully realistic and even have flaws that make them all the more interesting.

Worldbuilding is excellent and stunningly original. The Three Worlds is a vast place that consists of different areas and is inhabited by several different species. The author writes fluently about the different areas and their inhabitants. I like the way she writes about the various species and how they differ from each other, because there's plenty of diversity in her fantasy world. There are fascinating differences between the species, because many of them are totally different from each other. In this novel, the author continues to reveal more information about her fantasy world and its various species.

I won't go into details about the ending, because I might end up revealing too much information, but I'll mention that it is excellent and offers intriguing happenings, well written action scenes and unexpected surprises to readers. The story will continue in the sequel, The Harbors of the Sun.

Before I write the final paragraphs of this review, I'll mention that I like the cover image by Yukari Masuike. It's a perfect cover image for this novel.

The Edge of Worlds is so impressive a novel that I can hardly wait to read the next novel. I think that everybody who reaches the final page will want to get their hands on the sequel as soon as possible. I'm sure that the next novel will be something special.

Martha Wells' The Edge of Worlds can be recommended to readers who want to read something out of the ordinary that immediately evokes feelings of fascination, mystery and wonder in the reader. It's not your average run-of-the-mill fantasy, because it has everything you could ever hope to find in an original and engaging fantasy novel. If you expect addictive storytelling and fascinating characters from your fantasy novels, you won't be disappointed by this novel. You're in for quite a rare treat when you let yourself be hooked by the story.

The Edge of Worlds is an essential and satisfying fantasy novel for those who love quality fantasy and want originality from their novels. Please, do yourself a big favour and read this fantastic novel as soon as possible.

Highly recommended!