marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

The January Dancer

The January Dancer by Michael Flynn,  the first book of his Spiral Arm series.

A space opera tale of intrigue, mystery, adventure, and romance, all revolving about the Dancer, or the Twisting Rock, a prehuman artifact of strange abilities, and spanning wondrously detailed star systems, with a detailed back story.

It opens with a harper coming into a bar -- the only bar on the planet Jehovah -- and seeking out the scarred man there for the story, so that she can make songs of it.  Or so she says.

So he weaves her the tale, with no less than three beginnings:  a tramp spaceship that found the Dancer in a pre-human ruin filled with things that could not be moved; a civil war on New Eireann; and a Hound keeping watch on the Rift for the danger of the Confederacy, when pirates came through. 

The Dancer complicates it all.  The harper and the scarred man discuss the tale as it goes on, whether it ends well or poorly, who is the tragic hero of one portion, what are the powers of the Dancer, and an ontological mystery arising from its existence as the tale winds on through the slow formation of a group:  a Terran conman and low-life, an exile from the civil war, and two Hounds searching for a contact for a Confederate agent, and information about the pirates -- and more.  Mysterious disappearances of ships.  A route though the stars that is not publically known.  (The FTL travel in this work is particularly lushly detailed.)  A corporation that owns a different pre-human artifiact, the Ouroboros Circuit. . . .

Not to mention that the discoveries that the harper and the scarred man make about each other during the course of the telling.

This book benefits from being read slowly because it is densely packed with all sorts of stuff.  Fascinating, detailed worlds; vivid characters, intriguing plot twists, more allusions you can shake a stick at.

Tags: adventure, fiction reviews: sf, series

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