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Review: Salvage – R J Theodore

Salvage - R J Theodore

Genre: Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Sci-Fantasy

LGBTQ+ Category: Lesbian, Gay

Reviewer: Scott

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About The Book

Peridot is headed for its second cataclysm. War has broken ancient alliances, sealed borders, and locked down the skies. The Five, Peridot’s alchemist gods, have seen one of their number die and another fall in their efforts to protect their world from invaders beyond the stars. Defeated and diminished, they have ceased to answer the prayers of their people and have left the rapidly unraveling world to fend for itself.

Talis and the orphaned crew of the lost airship Wind Sabre have a plan to set things to rights, but they’re stranded on a rock far from the heart of the conflict. When an old enemy comes and offers them a ship and a path forward, it comes with strings that will pull them further from the home they are so desperate to save.

Can Talis and her crew chart a course through hostile skies, shifting allegiances, and subverted governments before the true enemies of Peridot claim a power that can destroy the world once and for all?

The Review

Salvage picks up two years after the loss of the good airship Wind Sabre, and we rejoin Talis and her intrepid crew on the island of Heddard Bay. After having lost their ill-gotten fortune with their ship, Talis, Dug, Sophie and Tisker are living together in a small apartment and scheming to make enough money to buy another.

While book one, Flotsam, stuck to a single point of view – Talis – book two expands this to other characters, including Emeranth, the young cutter empress; Hankirk, Talis’s nemesis; Zeela, a Vein trader, and Illiya, one of the High Priestesses of Onaya Bone, the goddess who was turned into a giant crow at the end of Flotsam.

A surprise visitor arrives at Heddard Bay to engage Talis and her crew’s services to salvage both the Wind Sabre and some of the alien ships before they rotate back into the Cutter Empire’s territory. She turns them down, with grave consequences, for her crew, and they end up on the run in a stolen ship.

The alien Yu’Nyun have settled om Diadem, the capital of the Cutter Empire, and have killed the old Emperor and Empress, hoping young Emeranth will prove more pliable. In the meantime, a new resistance – the Tempest – has arrived on the scene, and their motives are unclear.

And everyone is searching for the rings of the Gods, which could save the world or destroy everything.

Theodore was a worldbuilder extraordinaire. Peridot comes alive under their expert writing skills, and many of the scenes practically crackle with energy as Talis and her crew struggle to find their way again after a devastating blow. It was a joy to see the crew together again, each character so clearly delineated as a new threat arises that nearly sends them into a tailspin.

I’ve never read anything quite like the Peridot Shift. Bob Shaw’s The Wooden Spaceships comes close, but Theodore has Shaw beat with the sheer scale and detail of this strange world of floating islands and airships and its curious blend of sci-fi and magic.

By the end, things are in dire straits, with someone close to Talis in great jeopardy and the fate of the world hanging in the balance. It’s a fantastic ride through a crazy world on the back of the winds, and I can’t wait to see where things go in book three, Cast Off. I just wish Theodore was still here so I could ask them all my questions and tell them how much I love the series.

The Reviewer

Scott is the founder of Queer Sci Fi, and a fantasy and sci fi writer in his own right, with more than 30 published short stories, novellas and novels to his credit, including two trilogies.

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