Those Above. Book Review

thoseTHOSE ABOVE by Daniel Polansky
Hodder & Stoughton, h/b, 400pp, £18.99
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins

His sword, others call Soulflame and Salvation. He, they call Killer of Gods, a legend, a leader of warriors. He has no need for names. War is war and battle is battle, and Bas has survived his share. War will come again, and he will face it, with steel and with steady purpose, no matter what faces him on the field of battle.

Calla was Roostborn and serves as High Steward on the Highest Rung, her life pledged in servitude to the Eternal. Her Lord, the four-fingered High, is a figure of awe and beauty, and fear, and she is lucky and privileged to serve him so.

Thistle was born on the lowest rungs of the Roost, the slums, where gangs dominate and gangs terrorise, and the punishment for crimes against those in charge is one not survived by many. Thistle does what he can to avoid that fate.

Eudokia is a master politician, hiding a cunning mind and a fierce determination behind her public face as Revered Mother, chosen by the senate. The future will be how she designed it, and thankfully her peers are not as quick to realise that as she.

Daniel Polansky’s new series leaves behind the noir of Low Town and lays out an epic fantasy on a playing field that is excitingly unfamiliar. Those Above has a very different feel to his first series but is no less impressive in terms of content and scope. With four point of view characters there is a lot crammed into this first book and it looks like this will be an expansive and satisfying series – one that will take Polansky to a new readership.

Complemented with descriptions that never overpower or dominate the narrative, each thread of the story races onward, well balanced between action and exposition, to a climax that is thrilling and paves the way for a mighty continuation of the series. The worldbuilding is excellent, and the story as well told – in all its gory detail and finery – as one would expect from this author.

The Empty Throne will definitely be a series to watch, and Those Above reveals just enough about this world to tempt the reader’s curiosity whilst withholding enough to ensure the second book in the series will be eagerly awaited and eagerly devoured when it arrives.