Saturday, September 1, 2012

"Riders of the Storm" by Julie E. Czerneda

Riders of the Storm (2008) is the middle volume in Julie E. Czerneda's Stratification trilogy (following Reap the Wild Wind) and part of The Clan Chronicles.

In this book, Aryl and the other Om'ray exiles are struggling to survive in a vastly different environment, something they never ever expected to happen. After all, change doesn't happen on Cersi. In fact, it's pretty well prohibited by treaty.

But what does that mean to a people who can't remember the past?

To Om'ray, the entire universe is bounded by other Om'ray, since they can sense each other mentally. Nothing exists outside of that. Even other species are not-real.

If you go too far - not that any Om'ray would ever do that - you'd drop off the edge of the universe. They're not even particularly curious about how the sun gets back to their clan every morning. Certainly, nothing outside of the Om'ray has any meaning at all.

And when an Om'ray dies, he or she is no longer part of their universe. It's not that they forget people they've known themselves. But those memories only last a lifetime. If they can't remember a person, they just don't care.

They have no sense of history. They have no interest in their ancestors, and only a few Adepts can read and write. To Om'ray, everything has always been the way it is now. Change never happens on Cersi. Right?

I don't want to say much about the plot here, because even describing the initial situation would be a spoiler for those who haven't read the first book. In broad outlines, it's pretty much what I expected. But the details are another story.

Well, after all, this is a prequel. In broad outlines, we know where this is going to end. But the fun is getting there. And the details are great. Even the characters aren't all necessarily what you thought in the first book (which kind of reminds me of her Species Imperative trilogy, too).

Like the first book, this is an entertaining adventure with appealing characters. It's lots of fun - very hard to put down, in fact.

But, also like the first book, there's a little extra here. We learn more about the Om'ray, and they learn more about themselves. We also start to learn more about the other two species on their world, the Oud and the Tikitik, who are very different from the Om'ray and from each other.

Change - previously inconceivable to the Om'ray - has been forced upon the characters in this trilogy. Now, it goes even further than that. Now, they have to face history, too. And they have to try to understand the not-real.

How do you know that change doesn't happen, if you can't remember the past?

Note: My review of the final volume is here.


AJ said...

Very good review. I read this three-book series first, for some reason, and may have enjoyed it even more than The Species Imperative. I read the first book, A Thousand Word for Strangers, after the Stratification Trilogy and that was rather confusing to me. I realize that was her first book and the story telling wasn't as good as her later books. Have you read The Web Shifters series? Science fiction or fantasy?

WCG said...

Interesting, Ann. A Thousand Words for Stranger was the first of her books I read, and I loved it. I thought it was confusing in a good sense. At least, a lot which we didn't understand at first became clear later. And I really liked that.

But that was before I started this blog, so I don't have a review of that one. The Web Shifters trilogy, too. (OK, I guess I reviewed the final volume.)

Still, I thought they were hugely entertaining, but... rather light-weight. I love space opera, but I don't take it too seriously. (I do consider it science fiction, but then, I'm willing to accept almost any premise.) Her Species Imperative trilogy seemed a cut above that. And this trilogy, too, seems to have some interesting things to say.

Or maybe that's just because I'm writing reviews now, so I'm actually thinking about my reads. :)

AJ said...

When I read A Thousand Words for Stranger, I remember being disappointed. I was probably expecting more of the Om'ray's world that was so intriguing in the Stratification books. Instead I was jolted into a very modern world, at least that is what I remember. Of course, I don't keep any notes about the books I read, and I know I should...I am getting more and more forgetful.