Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Review of Demon in White by Christopher Ruocchio

Those reading this review will likely be interested in having one question answered: is Demon in White (2020) as good as the two previous novels in the Sun Eater series? Is it worth the time and money? Answer: yes. Ruocchio continues to build his world with surprises, fill out Hadrian’s character in a mostly 3D way (2.5D?), and keep the reader engaged through big-screen storytelling. Page length, well, it too increases…

If you were hoping to have an additional question answered: how did Hadrian get his head chopped off and survive? You are not the only one. Hadrian also wants to know, and his quest leads him to an answer in Demon in White. But not before two major trials. The second not possible to be described (spoilers), the first can at least be introduced. With the slaying of the Cielcin prince, Hadrian is now a legend among men, and an Emperor’s knight. His first mission as knight sends him into the deeps of space to solve the mystery why imperial ships disappear without explanation in a certain quadrant. Hadrian unravels the mystery, but not before encountering a threat unlike the human world has ever seen, and one that has implications on the entire Empire itself.

If Howling Dark was a cyberpunkish exploration of Hadrian Marlowe and the outer universe, then Demon in White is pure space action/political thriller exploration of known space. There are roughly six major settings throughout the book, each with its own flavor, each with its own type of knowledge and information waiting to be uncovered as Marlowe tries to understand his personal situation and political situation (the line between not always thick), and each with its own grandiose action scene—or at least massive in terms of what it reveals to the larger story. Readers looking for more, you absolutely get it. (I would estimate the final 25% of the book is an action sequence that continually doubles down on itself.)

In the end, Demon in White is more of the Sun Eater series—bigger, badder, better. Third of a planned five book series, it forms the proverbially bridge with no signs of slowing down—either in story or page count. Ruochcio continues to turn up the volume, giving the reader major splashes of action, all the while digging deeper into Marlowe’s character. If there is anything negative, it would be that Ruocchio seems to have explored the extent of Marlowe as a human, what’s left more in the superhero arena, which by default struggles with relativity. Nevertheless, it feels as though if Ruochchio can carry forward with the success of his action set pieces and unveil his universe one organic piece at a time, the series can sustain itself.

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