In many ways, Eyes of the Void is simply a continuation of the story started by Adrian Tchaikovsky in one of our top books of 2021, Shards of Earth. Because of this, this review is really going to just boil down to “yea, it’s still great, and you should still read it” with some additional commentary sprinkled in. If you have no idea what Shards of Earth is, you are in luck as I will once again run you through the premise.
Fresh off the end of my favorite space opera, The Expanse, a new giant sci-fi political thriller has appeared to fill the void. With two very strong novels out so far, The Final Architecture is a series that packs so much content into its many pages that it overflows like an endless chalice. I find myself still thinking about my read months later.
Shards of Earth is placed in a distant future in which we have taken the galactic stage and met a number of other alien species. Things are going well until planet-sized alien Architects start showing up and turning entire planets into modern sculptures with cosmic power – killing everyone on them. Most of the sentient species band together to try to stop these colossal arbiters of death, but nothing seems to be able to scratch them. Little progress is made fighting until a breakthrough of a secret psychic conditioning experiment leads to the creation of “Ints.” These ESP-ers could communicate, mind-to-mind, with the enemy. Then their alien aggressors, the Architects, simply disappeared.
In addition to being able to communicate with Architects, a skill no longer in demand, the Ints have an unparalleled understanding of movement through space, making them the greatest pilots alive – and there are very few of them left from the war. Our story follows a number of POVs after the war with the Architects but centers on a retired Int named Idris that many factions are fighting over. They all want to recruit him to be their pet pilot while he tries to carve out an independent life on a scavenger ship called the Vulture God. When the crew makes a strange discovery that might herald the return of the dreaded Architects, things begin to heat up.
After the events of book one, Eyes of the Void is about looking forward and trying to regain some agency. I know that sounds vague and handwavey, but bear with me. Shards is a book about lacking control, and how these Lovecraftian aliens profoundly changed any sense of security that sentient life has in Tchaikovsky’s world. Eyes is about action, plans, and doing something about it. All the key players from book one return, but now they are no longer content to wait for the Architects to come back. They want to find a way to stop being on the defense, stop always reacting, and actually have some direction in their fate. This comes in many forms. Some try to innovate existing strategies, some stop trying to protect what they have in order to recklessly attack back, some decide to flee everything altogether, and some choose to gaze into the abyss and come to understand the bigger picture. The entire book feels like a clear natural next step for the series and the books don’t really feel self-contained. The trilogy is likely going to read like one enormous book.
All the things I loved about Shards are still here. The cast is best in class, with each faction being stuffed to the gills with colorful protagonists, antagonists, and supporting characters. There is an awesome amount of character evolution in the second book as Tchaikovsky tracks the expansion of more than a dozen changing character identities. The world is still very fleshed out and filled with eldritch horrors that baffle the imagination. The plot is compelling and the mysteries beg to be solved. The sole complaint I have about Eyes of the Void is that the pacing is uneven. There were a few sections that felt noticeably slower and the book had less of a relentless onslaught of punches compared to book one, and there was some mildly repetitive exposition that could have been trimmed here or there.
Tchaikovsky knows what he is doing, and I am convinced that this will be the next big science fiction thing and it will probably get some sort of massive adaptation. Read it, it is worth your time.
Rating: Eyes of the Void – 9.5/10
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an unbiased review. The thoughts on this story are my own.