To be honest – the first time that I read this book I was just not impressed. It took me almost half the book to care about the characters and to know who was who (the names are very difficult) but by the end I was hooked and knew that I wanted to read it again. One thing I should state up front though – DO NOT judge a book by its cover (or its book jacket for that matter!)
The story in a nutshell goes something like this – Humanity has grown up and finally dispatched a space ship to another planet (Ishtar), however with faster than light travel being impossible, the colonists are put into hibernation with high hopes of building a new future. However, just before they’ve reached their destination, a major technical issues forces the Captain to abandon ship and the remaining colonists crashland on the planet with the majority of their supplies, tools and resources being destroyed.
However the planet is not uninhabited – already resident on Ishtar are a species of giant … squid/mollusk … they are at the technical equivalent of the bronze age in human terms and in the midst of an internecine religious and tribal war. First contact between the humans and the Gukuy is violent and the humans are forced to choose a side in the war that is about to engulf their small sanctuary.
From the book jacket –
A mercenary outcast with a perversion no one cared to think about. (She liked males.)
A holy leader, who knows her people are on the verge of great upheaval — and who wants to know more about this new tribe of demons.
A battle-mother, possibly the greatest battle-mother who ever lived — if the rules of her tribe don’t force her into a battle even she can’t win.
A keeper of the secrets of history who would control the tides of fate — if only she could.
A paleobiologist with a terrible sense of humor.
They were all revolutionaries, but none of them expected anything like this….
My Thoughts –
As stated earlier … the first read through this book take a while to really pick up speed. All I can say is that its worth your effort to preserver. Eric Flint captures the problems that a specialized civilization (Humanity) without access to the resources required to maintain that civilization would face. Without “nuclear” batteries – the settlers are forced to resort to spears to defend themselves and this is only after they find out how to survive in a land where the meat is poison and the plant matter is missing the ingredients of life.
The demons in the title of this book are NOT the giant squid, but rather the humans themselves. With a speed totally disproportionate to anything else in the local environment, humans, they way they look and act is completely unknown to the Gukuy. They are not demons as we commonly think of them as “evil” but rather in their sense of power and to the Gukuy their sense of alienness.
Character Growth & Development – 4/5
After reading this book a 2nd time, it really feels like this could be the start of its own trilogy in itself. All the characters and their motivations are well explained and you grow to really care about them and whats happening to them. It would be very interesting to see how the society develops and grows and whether or not they are able to survive the horrors in their future that Indira foresaw. In addition – are they ever contacted again by the rest of the Human race?
Story Growth & Development – 4/5
Actually pretty solid overall … no major beefs or hangups with the way the story progresses and how the humans survive in the land of Ishtar.The only thing I’d like is to know – what happens next? – but I guess any good storyteller always keeps you asking those questions!
Overall Rating – 8/10