Review by: Mark Palm
With the proliferation of fiction series that are threatening to overwhelm publishers now, I often find myself judging books both individually and as a part of a larger whole. This time I thought that I would review the second book of a series, Emilie and the Sky World, by Martha Wells, without reading the first, Emilie and the Hollow World. Think of it as an academic experiment if you must, Faithfull Reader.
The first thing that I have to say is that I wish that I had read Emilie and The Hollow World, because I was disappointed if not confused for the first quarter of this book, It starts off with Emilie and her friend Daniel visiting Emilie's cousin, looking for a place to stay. In a page or so Emilie relates a vague story about how she ran away, and with her now-injured companion, were swept up in a Grand Adventure full of daring deeds, unknown worlds, and beautiful sights heretofore unseen by any eye. After that a sizable chunk of the early part of this book is taken up by Emilie resting up, recuperating, and once again meeting with her exploring team. Miss Meneport and the rest of the explorer/adventurers travel on to Meneport, the book is set in an alternate world, semi-Steam Punk, with sorcery to begin their next expedition. An alien skyship has been sighted in the skies above Menaes, and Emilie, along with Lord Engal and Professor Abindon, and a pile of faceless assistants, will by flying through the Aether to investigate.
Now I enjoy feeling my way through a book without a ton of information about the world in which it takes place just fine, because it imparts a certain degree or realism that I find more refreshing than a scholarly breakdown of all the flora and fauna and culture that I might encounter, but in this case I was bored. All of the details of the last adventure were tossed aside as we watch Emile fight with her uncle and deal with the burdened associated with her stow-away brother Efrain.
Once we make contact with the alien ship the both the pace and the level of interest pick up as we encounter a locked-ship mystery, a race of sentient plants, extra-terrestrial possession , and a creepy world made of cast-off parts torn from other locales. Here Emilie shows herself as a hood heroine, smart, brave and resourceful. I also liked the way that Ms. Wells takes advantage of the fact that Emilie is an assistant, and her subordinate positions allows her to engage and report on the various action going on around her as the leaders of the group wrestle with command decisions. In the end with luck, pluck and a great deal of co-operation everything turns out well, although not all of the characters escape to tell the tale.
Now if this seems like a negative review it really isn’t. The main problem I had with this book is that it didn't stand on its own that well. Once I got the hang of it I liked it just fine, and the main feeling I got when I finished this book is that I wished I had read Emilie and The Hollow World first.