The Air War (Shadows of the Apt #8) ★★★★☆

airwar (Custom)This review is written with a GPL 4.0 license and the rights contained therein shall supersede all TOS by any and all websites in regards to copying and sharing without proper authorization and permissions. Crossposted at WordPress, Blogspot & Librarything by Bookstooge’s Exalted Permission
Title: The Air War
Series: Shadows of the Apt #8
Author: Adrian Tchaikovsky
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 672
Format: Digital Edition



The Empire has begun its expansion once again. Under the guise of defending themselves, they begin taking back the Low Land cities that escaped them the last time.

The war has moved into the air and airplanes and pilots are the new masters. Even the Air War evolves as it progresses, moving from one on one duels to a new way of communication among the wasps to fly kinden and wasp women being in the airforce.

The Empire, with the help of the Iron Glove Cartel, are now using Greatshotters to make walled cities pointless. They move on Collegium and it is only because the Empress has discovered a new source of power that the Imperial Army is pulled back, once again.

Empress Seda tidies up the Empire and allows plotters to gather so she can use her magic to wrap them all up.She continues to search for pockets of old power but all the old secrets have either already been used or decayed. There are less than vague hints about the Seal of the Worm but none of the Inapt slaves are willing to tell Seda about it. This only fuels Seda’s curiosity and she begins to dig.


My Thoughts:

When I read this for the first time back in 2014, I gave it 3 Stars. Storywise, I still stand by that. This was depressing, as the colossus that is the Empire just rolls over almost everything in this book. Collegium is the only city that successfully fights back and even that was not a “win” but more of a stay of execution. Almost 700 pages of the good guys staving off complete disaster and calling regular disaster a win. How are you supposed to get excited about that?

This time around, since I knew that was coming, I was able to focus more on the writing itself and I must say, this deserves that 4stars completely. Tchaikovsky is a Wordsmith and even when he was going on about air fighting stuff, which I didn’t care 2 whits for, I was able to focus on the words themselves and what they were trying to convey. It was worth it.

What I don’t understand and I can’t remember if this is EVER addressed in this series, is why the whole “kinden” gifts aren’t considered magic? Why doesn’t Seda try to tap into that as a source? I mean, she’d have the whole worlds population to exploit. Because of the lack of magic in this book and the focus on airplanes and how they change the war, I had to find something magical to think about for goodness sake! If a wasp can make some sort of energy appear and shoot from his hand, if a fly can make “wings” appear from her back and fly through the air, etc, etc, then what is the force behind that? It is presented as something that “just is” and with so much going on, it is easy to sit back and let it slide. But I had to pick at something since I don’t care for WWI style of fighting and this idea was it. If the Darakyon, a whole magical forest, can be put into the Shadow Box, why can’t Seda begin draining the magical force of the kinden gifts into her own container? See, I’d much rather read about something like that than flipping airplanes and coils and springs and crap that has no place in fantasy.

Ok, it’s not completely magicless, as anything to do with Empress Seda revolves around magic, but it is such a SMALL part that I wept for its short stature.

The characters were top notch. We get a lot of small characters from previous books playing bigger roles and some new characters and a very few of the old. Taki is one of the pilots and it is through her that we see the majority of the air war. You can feel how the war changes the one on one aerial duels to mass bombings and how it affects the pilots. It is almost the same change going from warriors like Tisamon, who were exquisite artists of death, to the massed clumps of beetle soldiers armed with snapbows who are able to deal out so much more death than Tisamon ever could. War has gone from a hobby for the rich individual to something of mass death waged by cities. And Taki lets us feel that change every step of the way. She is heroic, she is brave and she is talented and in the end, it’s not enough and she knows it. And we the readers know it as well.

I am also adding the “Favorite” tag because even though I didn’t particularly care for the planes (have I mentioned that enough yet do you think?), this series as a whole is even better this second time around. I can take the time to examine the underpinnings and they are as solid and artful as the building as a whole. I continue to be thoroughly impressed.


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13 thoughts on “The Air War (Shadows of the Apt #8) ★★★★☆

  1. I love this series, an this was one of the best books of the whole series for me. But I am a fan of military fantasy, so all those coils and springs and changes in warfare were right up my alley ;).
    And if you want the answer to the Kinden thing, read Echoes of the Fall 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good to know that about the Echoes of the Fall series. I’ve got 2 more Apt and then the 2book collection of short stories about the Apt world to get through, THEN I can start reading the Fall 🙂

      I am not mechanically inclined and that kind of thing has never interested me, in real life or in books 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, it’s actually the last book in this series to get full Goodreads score from me 🙂 Wasn’t perfect, I agree that good guys were beaten up too much, I’d say they deserved a real victory or two – but it’s not as harsh as the next one, nor as annoying as the final book. I completely agree on writing and characters!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What do you mean “a full goodreads score”? Rating and review in general? Or a “good” review and rating?

      I continue to be impressed with the imagination that Tchaikovsky shows and just how well he can write those characters.

      Liked by 1 person

          1. I almost never give 10/10. 5 stars… we have a grading system in Poland, where you can get from 1 (fail) through 5 (very good) and up to 6. 6 was “excellent”, often given for doing something extra, and thus I just associate “5” with a job well done 🙂

            Liked by 2 people

  3. Sounds like even with all the coils and springs focus, the author’s writing style makes it all a lot more digestible. Definitely a series I’ve got high on my priority list; got to see what all fuzz is about at some point! Hope the next book will have more victories for the good guys! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m telling you, this series is one of the best I’ve ever read. I’ve got the Wheel of Time on the dock, at some point, for a re-read and I’m looking forward to comparing how that stacks up against this.

      Tchaikovsky is just a real artist and I can appreciate that.

      Liked by 1 person

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