My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Alastair Reynolds is most popular for his hard sci-fi opera type books, but with this one he takes a slight deviation and brings some new elements to the story. Here you’ll find a mix of steampunk, mystery, angels, airships, cyborgs, and a strange tower, all wrapped at it’s heart with exotic physics that is just barely hinted at as the story unfolds. But in the end, the writing stands out clearly as Alastair Reynolds.
I didn’t consider this among the best of the Reynolds books, but I still felt like it deserved four stars (most of his get five stars from me, especially anything ‘Revelation Space’ related); I admit, I’m partial to the real hard science stuff he typically does. But the characters felt real enough, with a reasonable amount of character development. There could have been a bit more detail in the airship battles, but that’s probably just me. The plot moved along at a good pace balancing action with discussions.
In the end there isn’t a full and complete explanation for how and why things exist in their current state (no one knows who built the tower or why), but there is enough to close the story and leave you with something to ponder. I suppose it leaves enough open ended question to allow for the possibility of a sequel if the author ever chose to return to this world. I found this to be a nice twist on the steampunk theme and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys that genre.