After making peace with the desolate and stranded alien race, the Priyon, civilization limped on. Humanity occupies but a fraction of the globe at a stagnant abridgement of technology from the Priyon warning: Don’t rebuild, or the darkness that destroyed their world will come to Earth.
Now eight young men and women from a small community will be the only barrier between the enemy of old, and the survival of the human race. Can they persevere, or will it be their demise?
This year, I have mainly been reading serious stuff so its high time I went for something a little less so and Sway’s Demise was an enjoyable, light palate cleanser that flies along and kept me reading a lot longer than I had planned for. I read this in two sittings, it would have been one but for my obstinate stomach demanding food, for which it was rewarded with a black coffee.
The clean design of the cover sums up perfectly what the book is about, the reader is treated to an action packed adventure with a high body count in a world gone backwards – but still with some future tech – thanks to war with aliens and the ever-present threat and paranoia that that brings.
There are many things I enjoyed about this book, Harpley’s take on sentient robots is refreshing, as is the human interaction which has become more pronounced due to the seismic shifts of the recent past that humanity finds themselves in. This straddling of the low-tech personal and wider worlds is a welcome mix with one outlook influencing the other.
Information is given out in great dollops in the first part of the story, allowing the reader to fill in the gaps but with enough left to the imagination, that one wants to know precisely what it is all about. It’s the good grounding of back story that gives the reader the details up front that which is key because the second half of the book is more like an action thriller than the dystopian sci-fi I was half expecting. The combat – and there is a lot of it – was very reminiscent of Starship Troopers but with a much more complex enemy and an equally ambitious body count.
The interspersing of letters and thoughts from the alien perspective on events is a welcome change of pace and provides a more private insight so often lacking in the genre; so that we can understand not only the hierarchy of this invader but also the motivations, questions and fears of the mysterious race. This makes for a much richer reading experience…I want to say this take makes them seem more human but that would be wrong by definition.
The ending was as enjoyable as it was unexpected, the drama gives way to a neat tying up of unanswered questions that the curious reader may have been speculating about for a time. It’s gives a neat twist, inverting some of the ideas that I had assumed up to that point but also infuriatingly (the good kind, that is) throws more questions into the mix and could perhaps open up more stories within the same universe.
Sway’s Demise is a more tightly written and darker effort than the author’s debut The Mill, following for the majority of its length just one plot line – with brief forays to the other side of events – and is a really enjoyable read for anybody who fancies something pacy and short but with an intense action oriented plot and enough twists to keep readers entertained to the end.