K. Eason, the beloved author of the Rory Thorne series, is back with a new spinoff book. Nightwatch On The Hinterlands is a new sci-fi mystery set in the universe of Rory Thorne, following an unlikely duo who must discover the motive behind an unusual murder. The book takes place in the very rich and immersive world of RT and adds a buttload of worldbuilding to the galaxy. But, it features a very different tone and cast than Eason’s core series set in the same setting. Is Hinterlands another smash hit or will it deviate from Eason’s current track record? Find out below.
Hinterlands is a fun buddy cop experience with a pair of improbable partners. First, we have Lieutenant Iari, a templar and pseudo space cop charged with protecting the peace in her small backwater-esque planet. It’s not an ideal place to live because of its proximity to the Weep, a horrifying tear in space that spills out Lovecraftian horrors from time to time. Iari’s duties run the gamut; she breaks up bar fights, serves bodyguard detail for important political figures, and beats eldritch horrors to death with her bare hands. She is a very versatile employee. At the start of our tale, Iari stumbles into an impossible case involving the hacking of decommissioned and unhackable war machines. Where the case will lead her, nobody knows.
The other half of this strange duo is one of the aforementioned political figures that Iari is guarding. Officially, Gaer is an ambassador from the Vakari—an advanced buglike race that is pretty much universally hated by all other races. They were once the undisputed taskmasters of the galaxy, and their fall from grace involved hitting every limb of the tree on the way down. Unofficially, he’s also a spy, sending information back to his government, unfiltered by diplomatic channels. However, Gaer is a complicated and empathetic being, and he’s not going to let Iari come to harm when he can prevent it. Plus, he’s as fearful of eldritch horrors as everyone else.
The mystery of the book is fun, but not Hinterland’s greatest strength. That award belongs to worldbuilding. If you have read the Rory Thorne books, this entry has a ton of interesting information about other races, locations, and entities in the universe. It explores some of the lore that is only mentioned in the background of the core series, and Eason has a real talent for building engrossing and intricate worlds that feel both whimsical and real at the same time. It gives her writing a really nice fairytale aesthetic while also making it feel grounded in our own harsh reality giving more emphasis to the themes and topics. Yet, though Hinterlands has a lot of the bells and whistles of the core series, it has noticeably less heart.
Personally, I saw this book as a great little spinoff adventure from the main core series, but I didn’t find it nearly as deep or as meaningful as the Rory Thorne books. Yes, the characters are strong, the mystery is quirky, and the worldbuilding is excellent. But it felt like it lacked any sort of weight or complexity, which the core series has in spades. I struggle to find parts of the book that I can talk about that aren’t direct spoilers to the plot of the mystery, and I keep coming back to the overall summation of “yeah, it was fun.”
I recommend Nightwatch On The Hinterlands, but know that it is walking at a slower and more casual pace than the Rory Thorne books on which it is based. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, I am sure there will be many who like Hinterlands more than the other books. For myself, it was enjoyable but could have used a little bit more punch.
Rating: Nightwatch On The Hinterlands – 7.5/10
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. The thoughts on this story are my own.