This is the fourth book in the Quantum Gravity series by Justina Robson. I know a fifth book “Down to the Bone” is planned for a 2010 release, I couldn’t find any information on how many books overall are planned on this series. This book was a good addition to the series and started to tie together a lot of the loose ends that appeared in books 2 and 3.
A lot is happening in this book. It starts where the 3rd book left off; with Lila showing up on the beach 50 years after she went into fairy. In the mean time Teazle has taken over half of Demonia, Zal is still missing/dead, and Mal is leading up a branch of the agency. Ghosts are appearing with increasing frequency in Otopia. Lila is offered a position heading up the AI branch of the Agency. There is a lot to sort out, both personal and political. Lila is armed with an ever changing dress/armor that is more than it first seems to be and with an..uh…ink pen that has powers she could have never imagined.
This book was a good addition to the series. It brings together some of the plot elements that seemed somewhat random in the previous book. Finally we begin to understand how the Ghosts are all tied together with the Fates, Zal, and Lila…and how all of that is tied to the stability of the universe. The pace of the book is pretty good, although the action is not as non-stop as it was in book 2. Again if book 1 was about the elf world, book 2 about the demon world, and book 3 about fairy…then this book is mostly about the realm of the dead…although it does a good job of bringing all the realms together.
This is a complex story-line and there are still points at which I am not completely convinced that Robson knows what she wants to do with everything that is going on. The book switches viewpoint a lot…going between Teazle, Lila, Zal, Mal, and Tath. So, sometimes the story gets a bit fractured from all the viewpoint changes. Also the story gets a bit metaphysical with Lila in Thanatopia/Void and although Robson makes a good effort at describing it, sometimes it is a bit hard to picture exactly what is going on. The discussions between various characters (for example Tath and Mal) can get a little crazy and drawn out as they debate the cause of various metaphysical aspects of the parallel realms. I am also a bit confused on how in the previous book the worlds were on the edge of destruction and now here it is fifty years later and they are still on the edge of destruction…it’s like nothing really happened so maybe destruction wasn’t as imminent as it was portrayed in the last book….
The above being said there are some great character additions to this book. Temple Greer, the new head of the Agency, is an awesome character. He brings a lot of humor to the story and a wit that really lightens the whole plot. Lila’s crazy dress/armor was also an awesome addition to the story and added a lot of fun.
I am impressed with the creativity in this book and with the depth of the worlds that Robson has created. The plot is getting increasingly complex; I am hoping that Robson has a reason for all these plot elements and that in the end they weave a wonderfully complex, yet complete story. The characterization is good; Lila starts to come into her own as she spends less time doubting herself and more time looking out for her interests. I also enjoyed Teazle’s development as he exercises the new powers he gained in fairy.
You definitely need to read the previous books to follow what happens in this book. Robson does not dumb down her writing to remind readers of things that have previously happened. Things happen quickly and every word counts; so this book is a bit of a harder read than some. Still overall the complexity of the world intrigues me and I have grown attached to the very interesting characters Robson has created. This was a great addition to the series and I hope the next book has clear path forward.