notyourmonkey's Reviews > Empire of Bones

Empire of Bones by Liz Williams
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's review
Apr 09, 2010

liked it
bookshelves: 2010-read, scifi, owned
Read in April, 2010

** spoiler alert ** Intriguing concepts, but a little emotionally distant from all the characters, human and alien alike.

Human beings are actually just the seeded colony of a vast, distant alien society, and we've finally come online enough to communicate with this society. Except, hey, unlike the vast majority of these stories, the first person to be able to communicate with Our Alien Overlords is not white, male, or from Europe/North America; it's a young woman who is a former revolutionary from the lowest (reinstated) caste in India.

Lots of metaphor about caste in India and caste in the alien race, interesting perspective of the various people in Varansai literally at each other's throats to kill each other but united in their "oh god, don't let the Americans come in and take over" sentiment. Interesting world building, a little shallow on the character development.

Mostly, though, I'm a little vexed at how easily the human race, via Our Heroine, capitulates to Our Alien Overlords. Mostly this is done a) to keep from being entirely exterminated as the result of power plays by the various aliens, but the decision-making to actually relinquish human autonomy (such as it is) happens almost entirely offscreen. I realize that that's not actually what this story is about, but I find relegating the whole "humans are now flunkies to the vast alien society" decision to window dressing a little offputting.

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