I read a lot of books. A lot of 5 star books.
Book ratings vary from person to person. I admit I’m not clinical the way some people are about how I rank a book. Essentially, if I enjoy it and fly through the pages, it’s a great read for me. 5 stars. The end.
I’m often impressed by authors too. Expertise, imagination, excellent characterisation, prose and word play – so many things are held within great literature that can delight.
On a rare occasions, I come across a book that absolutely captivates. Not only does the author excel at all those aforementioned traits, but they have created something extra. Something more.
Howling Dark is such a book and Christopher Ruocchio is such an author.
Serious question. Is he a genius?
He may very well be.
To quote Shakespeare, Heraclitus and Dante is not in itself difficult, but to use them in such a way as to create a character like Hadrian Marlowe is.
To imagine a world set in the future is not impossible either, but the world of Sun Eater is a thing of wonder. Thousands of years of history exist between the birth of Hadrian and the world as we know it today. Little of this makes the story, and yet it is all there – all of this history has been invented and woven into this novel. We do not get history lessons, but learn though observations what has happened in the interim. I suspect if he so wanted to, Ruocchio could give George R.R. Martin a run for his money when it comes to world-building novels as an addition to the main series. George of course inventing and imagining backwards through his history, Ruocchio inventing forwards with ours.
Wars with technology, wars with alien species, genetic augmentation, the forming of an empire and religious structures are all there, though it is the current war with a species called the Ceilcin that occupies this story. And what a story.
To be clear, Howling Dark is a sequel to Empire of Silence. If you want to read a spoiler free review of that – hit the link below.
Empire of Silence was a wonderful book too. Inspiration from Dune was apparent, though I felt it found its own path quickly enough.
Howling Dark is different. It starts out doing something all of its own. The groundwork has already been laid, the formative years of Hadrian played out – and the stage awaits.
And what fun this was. What depth and what feeling.
I’m not a huge sci-fi aficionado – all the same, this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. If you haven’t yet started this series, it is time to start.
And now, I bid you adieu – Demon in White is on my shelf – and the adventures of Hadrian, Valka, and the rest of the Red Company awaits.