Book Review: The Citadel of Weeping Pearls by Aliette de Bodard (Three Stars)


Book Review: The Citadel of Weeping Pearls (The Universe of Xuya) by Aliette de Bodard

(Three Stars)

“That’s impossible.” “Everything is possible, if you listen to the right people.”

Set in the alternate timeline universe of Xuya (diverging from this universe in the fifteenth century), Citadel is richly woven science fiction independent of earth references except for culture.

“But this wasn’t battle. This didn’t involve ships or soldiers; or at least, not more than one ship. He could handle this. He just wished he could believe his own lies.”

Characters have compelling inner lives: hopes, fears, loves, hates. Science and mathematics join the Confucian classics in the hierarchical bureaucracy of the empire.

“Sometimes, she wondered what it would be like, to be truly alone. Sacrilege, of course; and the ancestors were useful, but still… Of course, in truth, she was lonely all the time.”

A solid four-star rating until the last page. I hate it when author’s do that. As bad as fading out in the middle of a scene, with “to be continued” emblazoned on the screen. Such is the risk of entering a large and expanding corpus of an author’s imagination late. (Someday I may get over my snit and raise this to four stars, but not today.)

“Space gets weird within deep spaces, that’s why you get to places earlier than you should be allowed to. And where space gets weird, time gets weird too.”

I have read and liked other Xuya stories, but they had decent endings.

“You don’t have children, do you?” [redacted] shook her head. “Sometimes, all you have are bad choices.”

5 thoughts on “Book Review: The Citadel of Weeping Pearls by Aliette de Bodard (Three Stars)

  1. “To be continued” – ick. Totally tacky. It only deserves 3 stars. An author bows to book marketing without consideration for the reader.

  2. Even if carefully identified from the very beginning, it is still hard to make each book in a series truly standalone. I sense that you would have been less unhappy if you’d known?

    • I would have been less unhappy if this book had a decent ending. I understand the imperative of series is to leave each book with hooks into the next, if not a cliffhanger, but I felt cheated.

      • There are many series, and trilogies, etc., which manage to complete a story or a part of a story – without leaving the reader feeling cheated.

        If there isn’t enough prior indication, I would be peeved.

  3. Even J R R Tolkien, who wrote Lord of the Rings as a single story and was forced into divisions by its length, ends The Fellowship of the Ring and a logical and satisfying point.
    It can be done. Many authors do it.

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