Howling Dark by Christopher Ruocchio

So it’s been around fifty years in universe since the last book, though Hadrian is only around fifteen years older due to the having to go into the equivalent of cryogenic freezing while travelling between planets. His new mercenary ‘company’ have been building up their reputation over the years, all in the search for Vorgossos. We’re given some details about what they’ve gone through but they finally have a solid lead but it puts Hadrian into conflict with Lin as he thinks they should give it up and return to the war.

This is a big book and some people might find parts of it slow going as there is a lot of talking and rumination’s but I thoroughly enjoyed it. The world is much more fully realised and we learn much more about the history of humanity. I found all the hints and knowledge we receive very interesting, it’s not Tolkien levels of detail but it seems like the author really thought about it and must have lots of details worked out in the background. I even liked that he kind of justified the use of swords etc in such an advanced future, it didn’t make total sense but it kind of works in universe. I also have no idea how he’s getting away with some people having the equivalent of lightsabers!

Hadrian has grown and is not quite as idealistic as the first book and loses even more of it as the story progresses. We’re also starting to see how he earns some of his crazy titles and they were not quite as I expected. I loved all his interactions with Kharn Sagara, himself/itself a brilliant character, and added a real menace to proceedings. We learn more about the Quiet though still their place in the story as a whole is a mystery.

It’s a pretty bonkers series so far but I am loving the scope and imagination on show here. The similarities to Dune and Kingkiller at the start of the previous book are almost completely gone now and the author is crafting a brilliant and interesting story. I’ve noticed myself thinking about the book during the day and wondering what’s going to happen and that’s always a great sign. The start does throw you a little as it feels like you’ve missed out on part of the story (maybe there was a short story??) but you quickly get back into the flow of it. Very much looking forward to the next book.

4.5 stars rounded up.

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