Monday 26 September 2016

The Swan Riders - Erin Bow - Prisoners of Peace Book 2

The Swan Riders
Prisoners of Peace #2
Erin Bow
Margaret K. McElderry Books an imprint of
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 9781481442749


I have read a number of books by Erin Bow, both here young adult fiction and her poetry published under the name Erin Noteboom. Most of her books were hard to put down. But because I was reading a physical ARC of this book it was only read at home, mostly later in the evening. As such the read of this book took longer than most books I read. And in many ways that was a good thing. This book is cognitive fiction, as you read or even after you finish you will find yourself, thinking, reflecting and ruminating on some of the themes and motif's presented.

What does it mean to be human, to be loyal, and to love? To see something you desperately want slipping through your fingers and not knowing how to stop it? To want to save the world, but lose sight of the individuals while focusing on the masses. To be an AI connected to the whole world and lose that? To be willing to sacrifice, but having to figure out what is worth sacrificing and what is not no matter the cost. These and more are some of the things I reflected upon while reading this book. 

Bow writes a powerful narrative, filled with passion, a few betrayals, loyalty, friendship and love. Greta Stuart expected to die young, as a prisoner of peace, she knew she would likely die because of a war over water rights. But she accepted a different path. She chose to become an AI, but having been raised royalty, living as a hostage left a mark on her, and as she gave up her humanity she committed to fighting to be even more human than before. 

The swan riders are loyal servants of the AI's they are the boots on the ground in a global peace keeping initiative started s few hundred years ago, when the control of all the weapons platforms in space was taken over by the AI's. So Talis (aka Michael), Greta the new AI, and two swan riders as guards are riding across a post-apocalyptic Saskatchewan, with lots of time for discussion, discovery and difficulties . And in all of this Greta is the most precious cargo of all the first new AI in over 100 years. Greta has some serious influence in how all these complicated events are going to play out. 

There are some LGBT themes in this book, though not as overt as in the first volume. A major part of the plot does revolve around relationships, and how those dynamics can change when a second intelligence can use a host body, thus changing things a lot. To some extent the majority of the book is about relationship, relationship on a personal level, with the demigod AI's, with the nations under the thumb of threat. And how those different levels interact and influence decisions and reactions.  

The book is well written and again the strongest part of the characters. We experience a lot of growth in both Greta, and Elian. We also see a sort of metamorphosis in Michael (Talis). It was an interesting follow up novel, I was not quite as impressed as I was when I read Scorpion Rules, but still a very good book.

Thank you Erin Bow for another interesting adventure. 

Books By Erin Bow:
Plain Kate
Sorrow's Knot

Prisoners of Peace:
The Scorpion Rules 
The Swan Riders

As Erin Noteboom:
Ghost Maps: Poems for Carl Hruska
Seal up the Thunder
The Mongoose Diaries

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