The Harbors of the Sun: A lackluster ending

The Harbors of the Sun by Martha Wells science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Harbors of the Sun by Martha Wells science fiction and fantasy book and audiobook reviewsThe Harbors of the Sun by Martha Wells

The Harbors of the Sun (2020) is the fifth and final novel of Martha WellsBOOKS OF THE RAKSURA (or at least this part of the RAKSURA series). It won’t make any sense if you haven’t read the previous books, so please do that first. There will be some spoilers for the previous novels in this review.

The Harbors of the Sun begins where the previous installment, The Edge of Worlds, abruptly ended. The Raksura were on a quest with some groundlings. They had entered an ancient city and discovered a powerful artifact and were on a ship heading away from the city when they were betrayed and poisoned. The artifact was stolen and some of the Raksura were kidnapped and imprisoned. Now Moon and Stone are trying to find their friends so they can save them from the treacherous groundlings. This involves a lot of travelling through the exotic territories of Martha Wells’ imaginative world, and an unlikely alliance.

Speaking of unlikely alliances, in an attempt to save their colonies, the queens, Jade and Malachite, have teamed up and have invited a third queen (another unlikely ally) to join them. These queens are aggressive and not used to cooperating with others. Let’s hope they can get along with each other and that they don’t get betrayed, too. Otherwise, their world is likely to be destroyed. Everyone is racing to discover the secrets of the artifact and the Progenitors before that happens.

In my review of The Edge of Worlds, I said that the RAKSURA books were getting repetitive and that continues here. The Harbors of the Sun is the lackluster end of the quest begun in The Edge of Worlds and probably should have been reduced and incorporated into that novel (but with a more satisfying finale).

While it’s fun to explore Wells’ world with its flying islands and walking plants, the pace of the plot is very slow and some of the drama that happens, especially at the end, feels unnecessary — like it was extended and magnified just to increase the page count. The tiny amount of information/resolution that we get in The Harbours of the Sun did not require an additional novel containing 400+ more pages.

The audio editions of the previous RAKSURA novels were produced by Audible but The Harbours of the Sun was produced by Tantor Audio. The new narrator is Daniel Thomas May who does a nice job. Audio readers usually get upset about a change in narrator, but May did so well that this switch didn’t bother me at all. The audiobook is nearly 16 hours (too) long.

Published in July 2020. A former friend has betrayed the Raksura and their groundling companions, and now the survivors must race across the Three Worlds to rescue their kidnapped family members. When Moon and Stone are sent ahead to scout, they quickly encounter an unexpected and potentially deadly ally, and decide to disobey the queens and continue the search alone. Following in a wind-ship, Jade and Malachite make an unlikely alliance of their own, until word reaches them that the Fell are massing for an attack on the Reaches, and that forces of the powerful Empire of Kish are turning against the Raksura and their groundling comrades. But there may be no time to stage a rescue, as the kidnapped Raksura discover that their captors are heading toward a mysterious destination with a stolen magical artifact that will cause more devastation for the Reaches than anything the lethal Fell can imagine. To stop them, the Raksura will have to take the ultimate risk and follow them into forbidden territory. The Harbors of the Sun, from celebrated fantasy author Martha Wells, is the thrilling follow-up to The Edge of Worlds, and the conclusion of a new Three Worlds duology of strange lands, uncanny beings, dead cities, and ancient danger

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KAT HOOPER, who started this site in June 2007, earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience and psychology at Indiana University (Bloomington) and now teaches and conducts brain research at the University of North Florida. When she reads fiction, she wants to encounter new ideas and lots of imagination. She wants to view the world in a different way. She wants to have her mind blown. She loves beautiful language and has no patience for dull prose, vapid romance, or cheesy dialogue. She prefers complex characterization, intriguing plots, and plenty of action. Favorite authors are Jack Vance, Robin Hobb, Kage Baker, William Gibson, Gene Wolfe, Richard Matheson, and C.S. Lewis.

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