Book reviews / Science Fiction / Top picks

Book review: The fractal prince

I think my comprehension of the plot has fallen from my 75-80% confidence from The Quantum Thief to perhaps only 65-75% in its sequel. Well, not really, I’m experiencing a bit of a peak-end rule cognitive bias.

So. Um. Plot. It’s…uh…complicated. I think, basically, they have to steal the original code of a post-human who created the race of post-humans that is trying to conquer death by making everyone digital. Or something. Be not-matter anyway.

To do this, the thief and Mieli and the ship Perhonen need to go to Earth. On Earth, there is a city. It’s kind of like Arabian Nights meets Snowcrash. Very middle-eastern futuristic vibe. The one thing I did not really get and kind of jarred with the rest of the reality was an arrangement marriage of one of the characters, Tawaddud. It is basically a thing that happened in the past (which, among other things, makes her a bit of an outcast). But it just doesn’t feel right, given that there doesn’t seem to be any other patriarchal trappings or even sense of inequality (other than between rich and poor of course). It just felt…like it was trying to hard to be Arabian Nights or root it too much in a past that would not exist anymore.

Other than that weird backstory bit, it was totally cool. It mixes the magic idea of spells that are actually sophisticated technological tricks. It’s all very strange but for some reason totally works.

Like the last book, there is a massive twist at the end that just made me go…whaaaaat. I’m sure it’ll be partially explained in the final book, but the last 10 pages just left me utterly confused.

I think part of the trick of enjoying the book is just not paying too close attention to all the trickery of language, the weird post-human landscape with weird words that mean weapons and double-crossing. I suppose it would be better if it was a bit more familiar but I love how alien it all feels. It is pleasing even if it is somewhat confusing.

I’m going to read The Causal Angel next, which I think is the last in the series (so far). Hopefully ALL WILL BE MADE CLEAR. I’m not sure how I feel about any of the different factions in the weird power-struggle in the universe. Even the main character, he’s a bit of a bastard but he’s trying to do good. So we think. MAYBE HE’S LYING TO US TOO.

Anyway. 4.5 out of 5 stars, 0.5 loss for that weird arranged-marriage vibe. Like, it was about 4 sentences and has really no impact on the plot, but it really bothered me. Still an amazing book though.

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