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Title: The Scarab Path
Series: Shadows of the Apt #5
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 4.5 of 5 Stars
Format: Digital Edition
The Lowlands are not at war but Stenwold knows that won’t last. In an effort to help Che get over the death of her lover Acheaos and to fulfill his mission of finding new allies, Cheerwell is sent as an ambassador to the near mythical city of Khanaphes, where a small Collegium delegation has been studying their history. When Che finds out that the whole city is supposedly Inapt, she jumps at the chance, figuring she can find a way to fix her own Inaptness.
Thalric, now Regent and forced lover of Seda the Wasp Empress, finds himself the target of high level assassination attempts. He is also being drawn deeper and deeper into the Empress’s bloody magical rituals and it is destroying his soul. The Empire is trying to co-opt the natural enemies of Knanaphes and Thalric jumps at the chance to get away from the Empress and figures he’ll be safe from assassins as well. Thalric is given the ambassadorship and he believes he is trying to find allies in Khanaphes, not knowing that the Rekef are working with the Many of Nem, scorpion kinden, to destroy Khanaphes.
Totho the halfbreed, after rebelling from the Empire and running off with Drephos, has started his own Arms Dealer company called the Iron Glove. He is in Khanaphes to expand his market but everything takes a back seat when he finds out Che AND Thalric are in the city. He ends up fighting for the city and eventually realizes that Che will just never be his.
Everyone meets up in Khanaphes and nothing goes according to anybody’s plans. The beetles are not Inapt, the Collegium delegation from before is either dead or mad, Thalric is still being hunted and no one can believe that the Scorpion horde attack will be any different from all the previous times.
Che and Thalric hook up for mutual survival, awake the Masters of Khanaphes (the Slug kinden, the original masters of magic), save Khanaphes, find out that Che is being haunted by Tisamon’s ghost and then they both go chasing after said ghost when it is freed from its ties to Che and begins to hunt for its daughter Tynisia.
Every time I go into this Shadows of the Apt re-read, I wonder if the book will be as good as I remember from my previous read. So far, every book has been as good, if not better, than the original read. This was one of the better times.
My only complaint was Che. She can be a real Debby Downer and at times is just frozen with self-doubt, recriminations and fear. It is awkward to read about and rather embarrasing actually. But she’s not that way ALL the time and most of the time I liked reading about her. But that is the only reason I knocked a halfstar off, other than that, this would have been a 5star read.
Tchaikovsky can write! I know I say that in these reviews, but I just sat back half way through this book and thought about it. He has talent and it’s obvious he’s worked hard as well. The combination of hardwork, practice and talent make for a fantastic book, or series in this case. It isn’t just that he can follow the rules of grammar, etc, but he knows how to use his words outside of the written rules. It is kind of like watching a true martial artist. They can take any formalized move in their art and turn it into a thing of beauty just by executing it.
I liked the story this time around, a lot. It is really interesting how the Apt races want to not only turn their backs on magic but pretend it never existed. With Che being Inapt now, she must learn to do away with that attitude. It separates her from so many people, because they don’t believe it and she can’t explain it. The Battle for Khanaphes was awesome! The Khanaphir were just not ready for modern warfare and it was only thanks to Totho and his Iron Glove associates that the city even stood a chance. But even that wasn’t enough and it was only through the magic of the Slug Kinden that Khanaphes survived. But even then, they aren’t a very nice Kinden, very much an old Master Race of Inapt magicians. But no worries, they just go back to sleep, like the sluggards they are.
Finally, I enjoyed how Tisamon has gone from a hero, albeit, a somewhat broken one, to a ghost who will do anything and use anyone to further its aims. I know he plays more of a part in later books, but right now, I can’t really remember how and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all works out.
Completely recommended, but definitely part of a series. Start at the beginning and enjoy!
- The Scarab Path (2011 Review)
- Salute the Dark (Book 4)
- Blood of the Mantis (Book 3)
- Dragonfly Falling (Book 2)
- Empire in Black and Gold (Book 1)