Reviews: Wells, Martha

Not Ready To Make Nice

The Element of Fire — Martha Wells

Martha Wells’ 1993 debut novel The Element of Fire is a standalone secondary-universe fantasy. It is the first of Wells’ Ile-Rien books. It was followed by The Death of the Necromancer, The Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy (The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air, and The Gate of Gods) and various short pieces.

A daring night-time raid on a sorcerer’s lair, a victim recovered, a mansion left aflame: enough of an adventure in itself. For Captain Thomas Boniface, this was just the beginning of a longer, more perilous campaign.

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Whisper Whisper

City of Bones — Martha Wells

Martha Wells’ 1995 City of Bones is a standalone secondary-world fantasy.

The relic trade is chancy enough, but for krismen like Khat in a city like Charisat, it is especially risky. Even if Khat can avoid violating Charisat’s trade laws, he could still be murdered by greedy criminals … or off-handedly killed by the city guard or their masters. He is, after all, a despised non-human.

Too bad that there are so few jobs open to Khat. This is the best of the few; as a krisman, he has some advantages.

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They Burn In Our Brains

The Gate of Gods — Martha Wells
The Fall of Ile-Rien, book 3

2005’s The Gate of Gods is the third book in Martha Wells’ Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy.

Ile-Rien has fallen to the mysterious, implacable Gardier. Tremaine Valiarde managed to escape. She and her handful of allies — some from Ile-Rien, some from another timeline, and one ambiguously alive sorcerer — have taken refuge in allied Capidara. There they hope come up with a plan for defeating the invaders.

But it turns out that the Gardier have infiltrated Capidara. The supposed refuge is in no way safe.

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Dancing on a High Wire

Exit Strategy — Martha Wells
The Murderbot Diaries, book 4

2018’s Exit Strategy is the fourth volume in Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries series of novellas.

Returning from its field trip to Milu, Murderbot covertly accesses local security networks and discovers that there is a security detail waiting for the ship on which it has stowed away. Further probing verifies that, yes, the detail is waiting for Murderbot.

It’s not the worst news Murderbot has ever heard. In fact, it’s not even the worst news Murderbot has heard that day.

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Way Up in the Clouds

Rogue Protocol — Martha Wells
Murderbot Diaries, book 3

2018’s Rogue Protocol is the third book in Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries series.

Frustrated with the progress of the case against the GrayCris Corporation (more exactly, the lack thereof), rogue SecUnit (self-designated Murderbot) reluctantly heads off to find damning evidence on GrayCris.

Which brings us to certain events in the Milu System.

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Freedom, Freedom, We Will Not Obey

Artificial Condition — Martha Wells
The Murderbot Diaries, book 2

2018’s Artificial Condition is the second volume in Martha Wells’ Murderbot Diaries. A review of the first volume, All Systems Red, is here.

Rather than trust its fate to humans, no matter how well intentioned, the freethinking construct calling itself Murderbot decides to evade its protectors and find freedom. But first, a few loose ends to be cleared. Such as what role Murderbot might have played in the deaths of dozens of people on planet RaviHyral.

Step one is getting to aforesaid obscure world without being exposed as a rogue SecUnit and forcibly returned to factory settings.

Bored AIs piloting interstellar transport ships turn out to be very observant.

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Sail on a Silver Mist

The Harbors of the Sun — Martha Wells
Books of the Raksura, book 5

Martha Wells’ 2017 The Harbors of the Sun is the fifth volume in the Books of the Raksura series and the second half of the story begun in 2016’s The Edge of Worlds.

The quest that drove The Edge of Worlds succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of the Raksura, in large part because they had no idea what it was they were searching for. Betrayed by Vendoin and the Hians, Moon and his friends were poisoned, the forerunner artifact the party found was stolen, and Bramble, Merit and Delin kidnapped 1.

The good news is, the Raksura have a potential ally. The bad news is, it’s not an ally any sensible person would trust.

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Still Waiting For Tomorrow

The Ships of Air — Martha Wells
The Fall of Ile-Rien, book 2

2004’s The Ships of Air is the second volume in Martha Wells’ The Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy. It follows immediately on The Wizard Hunters, which I reviewed here.

The book begins on a high note (the same one on which the previous volume ended): Tremaine and her friends have captured a Gardier outpost! Victory is surely theirs, because that is how it works at the beginning of the second book in a trilogy.

There are just two small problems: Firstly, Tremaine and her friends are in a parallel universe. Secondly, they have no means to get home.

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I’m Not Just One of Your Many Toys

All Systems Red — Martha Wells
The Murderbot Diaries, book 1

2017’s All Systems Red is the first instalment in Martha Well’s The Murderbot Diaries.

The Company cares (<3 <3 <3), which is why every one of their survey teams is required to have at least one Sec Unit. This is a construct: part machine, part organic, a guardian bound by programs stored in supposedly unhackable governor units. Its duty: to protect its squishy human charges. Of course, the Company is also profit-oriented, which means that the Sec Unit has been assembled from the cheapest components available, which in turn means that those governor units are, in fact, easily hacked.

Dr. Mensah’s team is small and it has just the one Sec Unit. That seems sufficient for a world without any significant known hazards. But appearances can be misleading. There is an undocumented giant predator in the team’s assigned territory. And the team’s Sec Unit is a Murderbot. Its governor has been hacked and disabled. Murderbot refrains from murdering its humans mainly because it can see no good reason to kill them. Not as long as it has new entertainment material to amuse it.

There is another, far greater, threat to the team than a soap-opera-obsessed Murderbot in the offing.

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Long-Forgotten Lonely Cairn of Stones

The Edge of Worlds — Martha Wells
Books of the Raksura, book 4

Although her publisher is presenting it as the first volume of a new two-book arc, 2016’s The Edge of Worlds is also the fourth volume in Martha Wells Books of the Raksura series. It takes place in the same Three Worlds setting as her previous Raksura books.

Consort Moon and the other members of the Indigo Cloud court waken simultaneously, disturbed by a shared dream. The meaning of the dream is unclear. Is it merely a rare side effect of the Raksura mental gifts … or is it a portent of doom to come? The court does not have long to ponder this before groundling strangers appear, led by a someone they know: Gold Islander Delin.

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My to-be-read pile grows again

The Wizard Hunters — Martha Wells
The Fall of Ile-Rien, book 1

2003’s The Wizard Hunters is the first book in Martha Wells’ The Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy.

Tremaine is poring over a book on poisons, seeking a way to commit suicide without her death looking like suicide … or worse yet, murder. She is interrupted by a knock at her door. It is her guardian, Guilliame Gerard, with bad news. A test at the Viller Institute has gone horribly wrong. The Institute’s lead sorcerer is dead and lost with him is the last of the Institute’s magical spheres. This is more than a research tragedy. It is a crippling blow to Ile-Rien’s efforts to defend itself.

Ile-Rien is at war, or least it is being attacked.

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Back to the Raksura

Stories of the Raksura: Volume One: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud — Martha Wells
Raksura, book 4

Well’s 2014 collection Stories of the Raksura: Volume One: The Falling World & The Tale of Indigo and Cloud shares a setting, the Three Worlds, with some of Wells’ previous works: The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea, and The Siren Depths.

I should admit, up front, that this review isn’t really a Tuesday Rediscovery so much as it is a review of a book I had intended to review long before now. I am using my Rediscovery slot to highlight a book that, IMHO, deserves highlighting.

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A Gaslight Fantasy

The Death of the Necromancer — Martha Wells
Ile-Rien, book 2

1998’s The Death of the Necromancer was Martha Well’s third novel, following 1993’s The Element of Fire and 1995’s City of Bones. Like The Element of Fire, Necromancer is set in the city of Ile-Rien, a city that seems to be a bit like a gaslight era Paris, but which has the extra fun element of magic.

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If you are considering reading the Raksura books, start with this one

The Cloud Roads — Martha Wells

Moon thinks of himself as a “shifter”, but why he can change from a wingless to a winged form is a mystery to him, along with why those are the only two forms in his repertory. There are lots of different intelligent species in the Three Worlds, enough that not every variety is known to every person, and since his family died when he was young, Moon never learned what kind of person he is.

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Wheel of the Infinite

Martha Wells

Maskelle was once of figure of some significance in her native Celestial Empire – the human Voice of the Adversary, the great being charged with fighting evil - but having blotted her copybook with a bit of business involving a false prophecy and a trail of dead bodies she was consigned to exile in the provinces, far from the center of power. Now, after years of exile, she is returning home to Duvalpore, summoned by the Celestial One.

Many great empires style themselves the center of creation. The Celestial Empire is unusual in that this is true, the world is centered on the sacred mountain in the Empire. For the priestly functionaries of the Empire, a map in the sacred mountain can literally be the territory. For the most part the Empire has used this power to carry out rituals necessary for the functioning of the universe.

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