Nutshell: survivor of genocide uses general belligerence involving all prior protagonists as cover to retrieve numinous object.
The number and variety of perspectives increases beyond the point of easy management in this volume. Narrative twists and turns like a twisty turny thing as the plot assimilates added perspectives and kills off plenty of folks.
Volume opens with what is a standard ruling class perspective, the emperor of the wasp empire; this type of narration is fast becoming my bete noire
. The emperor has the gall to opine that his slaves were his "jailers" (13), which is likely intended to mark him out as deplorable and naive. Why bother presenting the perspective of an adherent of master race doctrine & slaver? To present the perspective is to invoke sympathy for it, even though the intention is certainly opposite. I'm going to start adopting a standard of authorial intention similar to the definition found in the criminal law: the result of an act is intentional if the person actually intended the result, or if the result is substantially certain to follow upon an act knowingly done. No need to take any one author, such as here, to task too harshly, as it is a genre-wide shorthand, allowing for the centralization of plot in an easily producible and readily consumable package--needless to say, life outside of heroic fiction doesn't work that way (how many among ye have access to the President of the United States?). More likely that those who avoid the internal presentation of ruling class characters and yet still manage to advance a coherent narrative should be admired.
Anyway, lotsa fighting, much adrenaline. Good setting development. Nifty commentary on the amoral antisociality of engineers through the development of Totho. Mantid culture increasingly appears in form and function as samurai order, existing as atavism into the industrial age, a beautiful anachronism--tragedy in the making, ergo.
Ominous hints through moth dreams of "cities drowned in blood that arose in fountainheads from the depths of the earth, and in those wounds there crawling things like maggots, long twining many-legged things that should never have been allowed back into the light" (282), explained later as how the moths "had raised armies against the Centipede-kinden who had erupted from the earth" (428). So: first volume reveals that beetles &c. had revolution against moths, whom we now know had displaced the centipedes. Nice. I suspect that the centipedes will come back and kill everyone, then, and the mantids and moths won't be so anachronistic then.
Fun, quick, with concepts generally left for Scott Bakker. My edition features a slick cover of an armored woman slaughtering a bunch of people. Context of picture indicates it's Felise, genuinely the most sympathetic character of the bunch.
Recommended for those lit up to the countenance of war, persons at the beginning of the end of a world, and creditors who can't be ignored.