Locus: What Bennett [has] delivered here is something along the lines of Neal Stephenson’s REAMDE: a brainy political thriller with non-mimetic trappings, an unnatural engine at its heart.
B&N SFF Blog: The sheer amount of work packed into in these books is staggering; in the two earlier novels, Bennet balanced frankly huge amounts of worldbuilding with intensely deep character studies, interrogated political, social, and economic effects between national powers on a global and divine scale, and puzzled together plots both micro and macro with what seems like relative ease. His novels are never anything less than perfectly oiled machines, moving between layers and levels of narrative with elegance and precision. Impossibly, the sheer weight on these books has increased with each new installment—and I’m not talking about page count. They just keep getting better as they go: their politics murkier, their plots more labyrinthine and compelling. This is epic fantasy on a whole new level.
Library Journal: Once a demigoddess of immense powers, Sydney schemes to return to her rightful place while working in a beauty salon in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. When she hears about a new street drug that produces vivid hallucinations and strange abilities, awakening slumbering godlike powers in humanity, she plots to use it to her advantage. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Muzi and his best friend (and tentative love interest) Elkin also try the drug. As Nomvula, a young Zulu girl in a nearby township, is coming into powers of her own, Muzi, along with a pop star, a cross-dressing politician, and a newly sentient AI, must stop Sydney before her reign of terror can really begin. Drayden’s first novel is set in a near future with personal robots, making the magical elements unusual yet effective.
VERDICT: Fans of Lauren Beukes and N.K. Jemisin will want to check out this winning mashup that mixes genres and moods with gleeful abandon, heralding a fresh new talent. It also has a truly fantastic cover.
B&N SFF Blog: Veteran fantasist Wells proves her sure hand at sci-fi as she imagines a future dominated by corporations, in which the twin imperatives of bureaucratic adherence to policies and the need to award all contracts to the lowest bidder result in every planetary mission being required to be accompanied by a company-supplied SecUnit, an artificially intelligent android built from cheap parts, and as likely to malfunction as all of the other shoddy equipment the expeditions are counting on to, oh, keep them breathing. The SecUnit narrating the story has hacked its own Governor Module, attaining sentience and free will; it would despise the humans it protects if it didn’t find them so boring, but it nevertheless refers to itself as Murderbot. When its humans are attacked by something outside of the experience provided by its data banks, however, Murderbot must turn its prickly, near-omniscient mind towards not just the survival of its humans, but itself. This slim read is both surprisingly funny and packed with intriguing future worldbuilding, all the more reason to celebrate the sequel due later in the year.
Publishers Weekly: This stunning sequel to the Hugo-and Nebula-nominated Ninefox Gambit contains a satisfying mixture of interstellar battles, politics, intrigue, and arcane technology.
The Hafn have invaded Hexarchate territory, and the Hexarchate military Kel Command have resorted to deploying a human weapon to take control of the response force. He is the resurrected General Shuos Jedao, and he has possessed the body of Kel infantry captain Ajewen Cheris. After subduing and releasing Lieutenant Colonel Brezan, who tries to resist him, Jedao goes rogue, still fighting the Hafn but also pursuing his own agenda. Brezan is promoted to the rank of high general and sent back to retake control of the fleet with the assassin Tseya, a member of the diplomatic Andan faction. In the background, Hexarch Shuos Mikodez maneuvers his faction’s intelligence-gathering forces; meanwhile, the leader of another faction has disappeared, and his replacement offers immortality to her peers.
With multiple characters skilled in deception, Lee is able to keep readers guessing at Jedao’s goals until the end. He never explains the Hexarchate’s “calendrical technology,” but readers who don’t mind being dropped in the deep end will savor this brilliantly imagined tale.
NPR: [Bennett’s] universe is one of brilliant juxtaposition . . . a place where a god, a gun, a telephone and a plow horse can all exist comfortably on the same page, in the same sentence. It is this world that has driven the action in this trilogy, the push and pull of spies and generals and gods and bureaucrats all dancing because the intrinsic entropy of Bennett’s universe demands it.
B&N SFF Blog: The landmark 20th Liaden Universe novel finds Theo Waitley, bonded to the sentient starship Bechimo, seeking an escape from the hordes of people who wish to kill her, seize her vessel, and arrest more or less her entire crew. The Bechimo suggests a vacation of sorts in “safe space.” But that safety falls into immediate question when the walls between universes and times grow thin, and things start leaking through-including entire starships. One, a battle-scarred relic from an ancient, doomed war, is crewed by Theo’s own ancestors and they could use some help in the survival department. The anomalous scenario gives Theo serious choices to make, transforming the “safe space” into something much more perilous and much more adventurous.
RT Book Reviews: Having our hero be an apathetic, pessimistic killer android who can’t stand being looked at without its helmet on and who just wants to spend its time in the comforting grip of TV might seem to some readers like an outlandish premise, but in Wells’ hands, Murderbot is wonderfully relatable, very funny and a great narrator, editorial asides and all. The story is well put together and sketches out an intriguing future, but the real draw is our host, and the result is a story that builds to an unexpectedly moving climax. More Murderbot, please.
Murderbot may have hacked its own systems to become a free agent, but mostly it’s content to work the low-level guard jobs that require its type of SecUnit while only paying minimal attention and trying to stay caught up on its serials. Unfortunately, someone is trying to kill the scientists who are its current employers, and even more unfortunately, those scientists are coming perilously close to understanding that Murderbot is different. And if that happens, they might just start treating it like a person.
Tor.com: Brimstone is a haunting and surprisingly funny book – at turns raising the hair on your arms, and a laugh from your belly. Cassadaga is a delight, and being able to experience its intricacies and eccentricities through a newcomer’s eyes, reminded me of exploring Hogsmeade from J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, or Hopewell, Illinois from Terry Brooks’s criminally underrated Running with the Demon.
Priest has laid enough groundwork that a sequel seems inevitable, but also wraps things up nicely enough for the experience to feel whole and complete. With its unique mix of Americana, post-war themes, likeable characters, and swift plot, Brimstone is easy to recommend.
Library Journal: This exciting conclusion to Bennett’s trilogy is just as fantastic as the earlier volumes…. Bennett explores the fascinatingly complex gods of the Continent and the magic they left in the world, bringing the series to a satisfying close.