Review: Salute the Dark (Shadows of the Apt # 4)

Adrian Tchaikovsky: Salute the Dark (Shadows of the Apt # 4). (Tor Books 2010).

As I’m closing the 4th volume of this series, I’m still very impressed with it. The newness and freshness of the insect kinden has faded now but in it’s place are instead a great story of how people react in times of trouble and a host of characters, each more interesting than the next.
This volume brings many of the story lines of the previous 3 volumes to their appropriate conclusions and no one is left the same, not any of the characters but neither the reader who has come to care for these flawed people.
I believe, it would have been more fitting if volume 3 and 4 had been put out as one single volume but I’m guessing that the publisher thought it to be too long for one volume. Just make sure then, that you have both volume three and four so you can continue immediately.
So far, all our main character has survived countless battles, sieges and even wars – but their luck ends now. Fates are forever changed in this book as our unlikely heroes once again set up from Collegium to various parts of the Lowlands and beyond, to fight the Empire. But not all of them return. Much of the book passes before the real trouble begins for our characters – but then, it doesn’t end.
This book sees Che and Archaeous together with Thalric leave for the home of the Moth Kinden, now under control of the Wasps – or so they think, at least. Here, they are after a cure for the wound Archaeous sustained while trying to control the Shadow Box. But Thalric and Che continues on to Myna to inform them on what’s happening in other places so that they can consider rebelling against the Empire while Salma continue on as leader of his own people, the mismatched group of slaves, fugitives, deserters and more – a group that nevertheless has evolved into an army, everyone has to consider.
Tisamon feels he has betrayed his Mantis kinden and race so he does what he has done before, sells his sword and his skills to the highest bidder. But something is different this time and both he and Tynisa tracking him, becomes pawns in a much more sinister game, a game they are not aware of being a part of – or even that it’s going on.
Meanwhile, Taki and Nero leaves to help free Solarno while Stenwell himself travels to the Commonweal to get them as allies against the ever-spreading wasps.
Meanwhile, the princess Seda is slowly emerging from her brother’s shadow and attracting more and more allies, and Totho’s master develops new, more deadly weapons that he is intent on seeing in use, no matter the cost.
As with all good fantasy, this series give us a mirror to hold up for ourselves and the world we live in. This book teaches us that there are decent people on all sides and there are reasons behind most actions. It explores more of the actions in war and the actions of a young Empire, keen on expansion, than many other books and it even dives deep into the power struggle in the Wasps’ secret service, The Rekef. Along with the exploration of the various kinden and their relationships with each other, the fragile truces now have to stand their first test.
Choices have to be made, hardship suffered, losses dealt with – and yet, everyone have to go on. Much has changed by the end of the book and although it is a natural conclusion to the first part of the story, I’m really looking forward to where the next books will take us.

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