Last month, as I was browsing through April releases, Michael Cobley’s The Orphaned World caught my eye. Knowing nothing about this author or title, I soon realized that this was the second installment in the Humanity’ Fire trilogy and that Seeds of Earth was the first. So instead of getting The Orphaned Words, since that would have been quite useless, I purchased Seeds of Earth so that I could start this series from the beginning and then maybe continue on to its sequel. I also found out that though it was originally published in March of 2009, Seeds of Earth had seen a mass market paperback edition published in last January, something which often makes a book a lot more accessible for some…
Blurb: The first intelligent species to encounter mankind attacked without warning. With little hope f halting the invasion, Earth’s last roll of the dice was to dispatch three colony ships, seeds of Earth, to different parts of the galaxy. The human race would live on… somewhere. Over a century later, the planet Darien hosts a thriving human settlement. But mankind’s new home harbors secrets dating back to the dawn of history. Secrets that could yet see a devastating war erupt across the entire galaxy…
Don’t expect a very fast pace if you read Seeds of Earth because you are not going to get one. That’s not to say that the story is boring, far from that, but that it really does not move along very fast. I had to get through a couple hundred pages before I found some more exciting bits. Personally the slow pace did not deter me from reading the book but it definitely might for those that prefer faster-pace novels.
Linked in a way to this slower pace is the overall lack of suspense during a large part of the book. This is probably caused by the multiple viewpoints that Cobley creates, sometimes out of the blue. Some of you might be thinking right now: don’t multiple viewpoints generally drive the story and add suspense? Well, in general, yes, but in Seeds of Earth, no. For one thing there are probably too many of them, which means it takes a long time before we get any significant amount of time spent with any one of the characters, and from that point we can finally start feeling some genuine interest for them. Cobley thankfully countermands that by creating a rich world which, at least in my case, occupied most of my interest for the parts of the book where the characters were less interesting. Another problem with the viewpoints is that Cobley often has them pick up right after the previous one, in the same place and at the same time. So we almost never get a cliffhanger that lasts more than a page (at least not until the second half of the book),and you'll agree that such a thing really doesn’t do much for overall suspense.
Never fear, the book does eventually pick up and events become intense, and yes, finally, suspenseful. If there is one thing that Cobley does beautifully and without reproach it is build tension between his different factions, be they alien or human. He brings in one galactic power after the other into play, each carrying extra risks and perils for the characters to struggle through. This comes back to what I said above about the universe that Cobley has created. It seems so infinite and complex that it never really comes as a surprise when something big happens, it’s expected and it’s great.
Looking back at what I've just written, it is quite clear that I would not recommend this to everyone. The category of people that probably would not enjoy this book include: those that don’t like relatively slow books and (this is a pretty obvious if not stupid one) those that don’t enjoy sci-fi. As for the rest, I'd say that there is a favorable chance that this is a good book for them to read. Having now read Seeds of Earth I can move onwards to The Orphaned Worlds; expect a review probably not in May but if not then for sure in June.
My Rating: 3 out of 5
Reading Age: 14 and up
Sex/Language: None of either that I can think of
Michael Cobley's website: http://rockitboy.wordpress.com/
Buy Seeds of Earth: