Stories of the Raksura: Volume Two: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below Paperback – Apr 7 2015
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Truly inventive and stunningly imaginative world-building perfectly melded with vivid, engaging characters make the Books of the Raksura one of my all-time favorite science fiction series.”
Kate Elliott, author of the Spiritwalker trilogy
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
"The Dark Earth Below" is less dark, since it takes place in the post-trilogy "present" and Moon is no longer a lonely, bitter outcast. In fact, he's about to become a new father -- so of course a mysterious hostile entity threatens the colony. Jade's not exactly helpless, but Moon's got a lot of new-papa jitters to work off, so the bulk of dealing with the threat falls on him. This one's worth it for all the layers of nuance that get added to the Raksura we know and love: we see Pearl and Stone showing obvious pleasure that Indigo Cloud is growing again; we see the Arbora go into "swarm" mode when something invades the tree; we see that Balm is suddenly very very glad she can't get pregnant; and we meet Jade and Moon's children! It's positively heartwarming.
There are some other short stories rounding out this volume, most of which are reprinted from other sources or Wells' website; I particularly like "Mimesis" since it's all about Jade saving the day (though it's hilarious to see that the Indigo Cloud warriors constantly worry that Moon will kill them if anything happens to Jade). But frankly it's the two novellas here that earn the price of admission.
This books contains 2 brand new novellas and 3 short stories. It's really nice to have all of the stories together in one book. There are very useful appendices in the back, one listing characters, and two giving background info on the Raksura.
Four of these stories involve Moon and members of the Court, both before, during, and after the novels of the Raksura trilogy and give us insight into how Moon's character developed, as well as the workings of the Indigo Court. It was very cool to see Moon and Jade anticipate their future children!
The plots of the stories are immaterial, IMO. As with all Wells's stories, they're full of unpredictable action and adventure and some funny snark. The characters are complex and well drawn.
I definitely recommend this book, but if you're new to the Raksura, I'd recommend starting with the trilogy starting with the Cloud Roads. You will NOT BE SORRY!!
There are five stories in total in Volume II, each set in different time periods, and most of them feature Moon as the main character. “The Dead City” is set before The Cloud Roads. It explores new species and introduces new friends and enemies as Moon finds himself in trouble as groundlings fight over an ancient city in the jungle. “Mimesis” is a previously released story that was available in The Other Half of the Sky. It takes place three months after The Siren Depths and follows Jade, Balm, Sand, Aura and Serene on a hunting trip that turns into a rescue operation in the lower reaches of the forest. “Trading Lesson” takes place a month afterwards and has Moon teaching the Raksura a few lessons in trading with groundlings. “The Almost Last Voyage of the Wind-Ship Escarpment” changes gears by leaving the Raksura behind. Instead, it stars a cast of groundlings. A ship captain named Jai takes on a mission to deliver a ransom for the Issilans. Aboard their wind-ship, they encounter sealings and find out first hand why they’re so feared. All in all it’s a great collection of stories, some more action oriented than others, but all of them colorful, imaginative and fun. Yet it’s the last story that really adds a lot to the book.
“The Dark Earth Below” is really a novella. At 94 pages, it takes up a big chunk of the anthology. It’s also set after The Siren Depths, so it continues the story of the Indigo Cloud Court. Best of all, it covers a key event in the series: Moon and Jade’s clutch. Yes, they finally get kids. But it’s not just a story about Jade giving birth and readers finding out the gender of their kids, how many, and their names. Instead there’s a whole story about mysterious groundlings and predators. It involves the plant like Kek who seek Indigo Cloud’s help as they try to unravel the mystery behind dead groundlings, a floating leaf boat and invisible creatures. It’s a fun story and a great addition to the series.
When it was first revealed that Martha Wells would be writing two story anthologies instead of a fourth book in the Raksura series, I was bummed out as I really wanted another full length novel. However, after reading Stories of the Raksura Volumes I and II, I have to say it worked out well. On one hand it continued the fun of the series, yet on the other, it explored new areas, time periods and characters we would not have seen in the series proper. Both collections turned out great and are must reads for fans of the series. I give Stories of the Raksura: Volume II a five out of five.
The collection includes two novellas as well as a scattering of short fiction. Both long stories feature Moon, the male protagonist of the Raksura trilogy; he’s a foundling who finally finds his place in the world. One novella, “The Dead City,” takes us back a few cycles when Moon is still very young, on the run, and has no idea what he is or what name his people use. In it we see him as he cannot see himself—curious, inventive, adaptable, strong. Also bitter, as winged he looks all too much like a species feared the length of his world. He can never stay anywhere for long.
In “The Dark Earth Below,” longtime readers finally get to see Moon handle impending fatherhood, as he is now consort to Jade, the Sister Queen of the Indigo Cloud court. We are given a many-layered tale that weaves together family, external threat, mystery, and claiming a home into one satisfying whole.
I highly recommend starting with the novel The Cloud Roads, but there’s no reason not to try a taste of The Three Worlds through this collection. Looking forward to more Raksura!
The two novellas--one before the book series during Moon's youth, and one after the book series at the new Indigo Cloud location in the Reaches--are both enjoyable, but I especially loved reading the latter. There are some exciting events and more time spent with my favorite characters. I won't give away any of the details.
I marked this "no sexual content." There is some reference to sex and body parts, but no actual sex scenes. There is a birthing scene, but it is not graphically described at all.
There is violence: fights between fantasy creatures, including some descriptions of the fights, including the use of claws and jaws, but it didn't seem to be to be explicitly descriptive.
Bottom line: if you liked/loved the previous books, you should get this one. Newcomers to the series should start with "The Cloud Roads."