The Causal Angel (Jean le Flambeur, #3)

By Hannu Rajaniemi

Rating: 4 stars

Perhonen is dead, Mieli is in the hands of the Zoku and Jean le Flambeur is in a tiny ship escaping from the ruins of Earth and trying to keep his promises. The Causal Angel really throws you in at the deep end here, picking up immediately after The Fractal Prince left off, with Earth destroyed, but with its last city, Sirr, preserved as information, awaiting a new home. The All-Defector is loose and only a mysterious artefact known as the Kaminari Jewel can prevent it and the Sobernost from taking over the solar system.

This book doesn’t give us any flamboyant new worlds or civilisations, but takes a longer, deeper look at an established one: the Zoku, who have been mentioned in passing in the past, and played a role in The Quantum Thief, but here we find out more about them, their origins in gaming clans and their politics and how it shapes the system.

Rananiemi’s relentless ‘show, don’t tell’ approach can be exhilarating, but also rather exhausting, especially when you’re trying to remember something that happened two books ago using only memory and Wikipedia references as guides. I think this trilogy would really sit from being read back to back, without having a year between books, especially now that I’ve been through it once, and have some knowledge of what googals, the Oubliette, the founders and so forth are. Maybe someday, in my copious (!!) quantities of spare time.

Despite it all, however, le Flambeur and Mieli are great characters who you urge on through all their trials and tribulations and the worlds that Rajaniemi has created are fantastic and deserve to be enjoyed and praised. And through the whole book, the Perhonen-shaped hole is a presence in its own right, shaping the actions of both the Thief and the Warrior and sealing the fate of the Universe.

Great space opera and great fiction. As long as you’re willing to put in the effort, you’ll be rewarded in spades.

Book details

ISBN: 9780575088979
Publisher: Gollancz
Year of publication: 2014

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