Short Take: “Carve the Sky,” Alexander Jablokov

Pros: The worldbuilding
Cons: The worldbuilding
Rating: 4 out of 5

Alexander Jablokov’s Carve the Sky takes place in the year 2358. Vanessa is an art expert who is supposed to authenticate a carving by famous sculptor Ozaki, and Anton is the Seneschal to the Monboddo Household, responsible for caring for its vast art collection. Vanessa also works for the Academia Sapientiae, and Anton is an intelligence officer. The Ozaki carving sets off a series of events that lead to conspiracies, a trip to the moon (where the characters participate in an animal hunt), a trip to the asteroid belt, rumblings of war, a religious conspiracy, a race to collect a set of four mysterious artifacts, and even a touch of romance.

The worldbuilding is both the book’s strength and its weakness. We get dumped into the middle of it and are expected to pick it up along the way. Bits of history emerge in the form of artifact catalog listings, which is clever. But there’s just so much detail to all of it that I never felt as though I really got a handle on it all. It distracted from the plot at times, and sometimes it seemed to substitute for plot.

The characters are interesting, although some of the side characters are a bit one-note. Vanessa and Anton are what make this book worth reading. I enjoyed their conversations quite a bit, and in those chats the worldbuilding seemed to settle a bit and make more sense. Both characters are imperfect and fallible, yet strong and competent, which is quite nice.

This book didn’t wow me, but it’s solidly entertaining.

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