If you’ve read my previous reviews on Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shadows of the Apt series then you know what my current opinion on them is. The third book in the series, Blood of the Mantis had one thing that I immediately noticed when I bought it: it was much shorter than the previous two. Now I don’t know exactly why that is, if it’s that the author signed on for more books than he had story for and shortened this one or if this is exactly how he wanted this book to be in it just happened to be shorter, all I know is that it’s uncommon, if not unknown, that a sequel is shorter than preceding novel or novels. Whatever may be, Blood of the Mantis does not disappoint.

It builds directly on where we left off with Dragonfly Falling. Our main cast of characters is spread out across the Lowlands and their environs. Archaeos the moth has located the Shadow Box in a city of the Empire. Che’s journey meanwhile takes an unforeseen turn as she goes beyond the borders of the countries we previously knew. Stenwold Maker is still in the process of gathering allies but the Wasp Empire is beginning a new offensive on the city of Collegium through means Stenwold had not envisioned.

With this book, we are treated to a new map, displaying a larger portion of the empire and quite a bit of the Spiderlands, especially around the Exalsee. This is obviously included for a specific reason, in this case because Che travels to the city of Solarno on the Exalsee to fight the Empire there by what means she can and possibly acquire some allies for the endangered Lowlands. Once again all the characters get some quality growth, including Totho in the new “direction” he took in Dragonfly Falling.

Overall a very strong third entry in this up and coming series. It still has a while to go though, since Tchaikovsky has apparently planned for a total of seven Shadows of the Apt series, with the fourth book, Salute the Dark, due to be out in the UK in February. Strongly recommended to those that have read through Empire and Dragonfly Falling (and enjoyed it of course). For those of you that haven’t gotten to them yet (why are you reading this if you haven’t): get reading.

Summarizing Info:
My Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Reading Age: 14 and up
Violence: Same stuff as the first two books
Sex/Language: No more or less than what I’ve seen before from Tchaikovsky

Adrian Tchaikovsky’s website: http://www.shadowsoftheapt.com/

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