I am happy to be joining in the Angry Robot book tour for Spidertouch by Alex Thomson! This is a fantasy novel, where there isn’t magic but a non human race. It’s one of those cool genre-bending books that encompasses suspense, subterfuge, adventure, some military and siege tactics, and other things. As in – I would recommend it to people who don’t necessarily read fantasy.
This book is a linguistics lover’s dream, with plenty of action, trickery, and world building to keep it interesting.
Bookish Quick Facts:
- Title: Spidertouch
- Series: N/A
- Author: Alex Thomson
- Publisher & Release: Angry Robot, 12/14/21
- Length: 400 pgs
- Rate & Recommend: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ Yes for anyone interested!
Here is the blurb:
Enslaved by a mute-race of cruel dictators, Razvan learns their touch-language and works as a translator in order to survive. But war is on the horizon and his quiet life is about to get noisy…
When he was a boy, Razvan trained as a translator for the hated Keda, the mute enslavers of his city, Val Kedic. They are a cruel race who are quick to anger. They keep a tight hold on the citizens of Val Kedic by forcing their children to be sent to work in the dangerous mines of the city from the age of eleven until eighteen. By learning fingerspeak – the Keda’s touch language – Razvan was able to avoid such a punishment for himself and live a life outside the harsh climate of the slums. But the same could not be said for his son…
Now a man, Razvan has etched out a quiet life for himself as an interpreter for the Keda court. He does not enjoy his work, but keeps his head down to protect his son, held hostage in the Keda’s mines. The Keda reward any parental misdemeanors with extra lashings for their children. Now the city is under siege by a new army who are perhaps even more cruel than their current enslavers. At the same time, a mysterious rebellion force has reached out to Razvan with a plan to utilize the incoming attack to defeat the Keda once and for all. Razvan must decide which side to fight on, who can be trusted, and what truly deserves to be saved.
41 year old Razvan is a translator for the Keda, an alien-ish race that took over the city hundreds of years ago and keeps the humans in subjugation by keeping the children as slaves. The problem is that the Keda only speak through a finger tapping type of touch language, so a handful of humans must act as translators.
When the city is sieged by a war ready people, it’s up to Razvan and the translators to decide if it’s a good time for civil war. I liked the theme of “What do people fight and risk themselves for?” Money, children, power? I liked the military and siege tactics too, nothing like hurling plague-ridden corpses over the city wall.
I loved the slightly older, less than heroic main character. Razvan was not a leader, adventurer, or known hero – but a fisherman’s son turned translator. The first half of the book was mostly his quiet observations on society, language, and the struggles of the populace. Little bits of mettle kept showing through, more and more, until he finally stepped up when needed and did what he had to against the Keda. I think they called it “linguistic subterfuge” and it was interesting, plus he wasn’t beyond a little bit of murder. At the end of the day though Razvan was tripping over corpses rather than slaying them, aka not heroic, but he was very likeable 🤣
The language nuances were interesting, it made one think about how touch and translation are perceived. For a book that took place in one city there was a perfect level of micro world building. The markets, the slums, food and drink, the increasing level of desperation as people starved….
The siege had a lot of good scenes too, for a generally quieter novel, Thomson turned up the heat at times.
The social structure was well thought out too, with three branches of Keda and a hierarchy among the humans as well. The thing that drove me crazy, and I docked a star for it, was that since the Keda didn’t apparently have genders, the author used an “x” instead of the he or she, so it looked like “xe” or “xer” etc, and he used them all interchangeably. That was the confusing part, in one sentence he would refer to one Keda by multiple different pronouns and seeing as it’s one of the real life new language phenomena that I just can’t wrap my head around yet, it was hard for me to follow in the book. I just kept thinking “did he switch Keda or is this the same one?”
Anyway, all in all, I definitely recommend this one for just about anyone interested. I thought the open ending was a nice touch and it had a hopeful tone and aspect
About the preorder offer – Good news! The new Angry Robot website is up and you can preorder or buy books directly now! You can use the code onereadingnurse to save 25% on a preorder of Spidertouch, so get on that! I believe the code is good until December 4th