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The Promise of the Child

(The Amaranthine Spectrum #1)

3.25  ·  Rating details ·  261 ratings  ·  104 reviews
It is the 147th century.

In the radically advanced post-human worlds of the Amaranthine Firmament, there is a contender to the Immortal throne: Aaron the Long-Life, the Pretender, a man who is not quite a man.

In the barbarous hominid kingdoms of the Prism Investiture, where life is short, cheap, and dangerous, an invention is born that will become the Firmament’s most close
Paperback, 484 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Night Shade (first published May 23rd 2013)
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Average rating 3.25  · 
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 ·  261 ratings  ·  104 reviews

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Kevin Kelsey
Jan 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2018
Posted at Heradas Review

I haven’t seen worldbuilding of this breadth and scale since Iain M. Banks’ Culture series, Gene Wolfe’s The Book of the New Sun, or Alastair Reynolds’ Revelation Space. That’s not to say that the story is anything like those other series, but the worldbuilding is just as expansive as they are, if not more. It’s just absolutely massive, and well thought through. I think when all is said and done The Amaranthine Spectrum will stand at a similar level as those Culture/New S
Sean Barrs
The Promise of the Child is a hard book to read, but it is also incredibly rewarding. It’s not the sort of book that gives everything away at the start. You jump straight into the lives of the characters and have to connect all the pieces together for yourself. It reveals how everything relates to each other as time goes on. My advice: stick with it! If you're overwhelmed or a bit lost, that’s part of the magic. It may sound strange, thought this needs to be read until the very end to appreciate ...more
Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽
Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature:

The Promise of the Child (2015), an ambitious space opera that spans centuries and multiple planetary systems, begins with a prologue set in in fourteenth century Praha (Prague), where Princess Eliška, married to King John of Bohemia, meets with a man named Aaron to discuss his help with her son’s ill health. The story then jumps to AD 14,647 … but we will meet Aaron (“the Long-Life”) again.

In this distant future, humanity has spread to many world
Nov 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Promise of the Child, Tom Toner’s 2015 novel begins his anticipated Amaranthine Spectrum of books.

An ambitious mix of Jack Vance and David Mitchell, with a pleasing hint of Alistair Reynolds, Toner has crafted a complex world building with a vast scope, encompassing centuries of narrative backstory. This is also reminiscent of Aldous Huxely and Guy Gavriel Kay with a tapestry like intricacy of ideas and interrelated character detail.

Essentially this is a byzantine space opera told from vario
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
The First Fifty Pages of The Promise of The Child: A Play in One Act.

Drill Sergeant Tom Toner: Played by author
Tom Toner

Group of readers: Played by themselves

Location: An army parade ground.

(Drill Sergeant Tom Toner stands on an asphalt parade ground before a motley group of readers, his hands clasped behind his back. His gravelly voice rings out in a martial bellow)

"Welcome to literary boot camp!"

(Tom paces around the nervous group of readers, his spine straight, aggressively eyei
Aug 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, sci-fi
After my re-read I'm upping this to five stars in July 2018. (First read was in 2016.)

Tom Toner may be the new Steven Erikson of Science Fiction, because he drops the reader straight into an unfamiliar world without any explanation. I'm a fast reader and sometimes tempted to skim more than I should, which works with books set on our world where not every third word is strange and unfamiliar. After reading a third of this novel, almost putting it away for good because I had no idea what was going
Jan 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-read
This is a really difficult book to rate. There were parts that were really engrossing, but there were also parts that were confusing and hard to mentally fit into the story.

The book starts off by dropping the reader into a completely foreign environment, with no explanation or context. It wasn't until I was about 30% or so into the book that I had a fair sense of what was going on in the different story threads that we follow. This is similar to what Kameron Hurley does in her Bel Dam Apocrypha
This book is an extremely hard book to review not because I can give too much away (I can't) or because I'm conflicted about how much I like this (I'm not).

Indeed, I actually want to rave about it and tell the world that something really special has finally been published that dives seriously deep into future history, has an amazingly complex world-building, and it even manages to remain connected to the things we understand DESPITE adding a zero to the time-frame. Can you say Culture novels? Or
wants to be the most innovative sf of the year (and to pick up where sf giants IM Banks and Jack Vance left off by their passing) and it mostly succeeds, though the prose is yet not as polished and elegant as Vance, nor as energetic and powerful as Banks, but considering it is a debut, I would say that the author is by far the most exciting new sf writer in a long time

the story-line(s) which end at mostly tbc points (though some could be construed as cliffhangers) intertwine in ways that make s
Jan 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Provided to me by Tom Toner and NetGalley in return for a review.

Fabulous climax, terrifically relaxed and gentle first half, great puzzles and extraordinary variety. It seems slow and confusing to begin, perhaps better chapter segmentation and interleaving would help, but for a first novel, a triumph!

In the early parts of the book, we see short segments and events concerning several characters. These are interesting, but are then mostly abandoned to later parts of the book. A good editor would
Apr 24, 2017 marked it as not-for-me  ·  review of another edition
I finally admitted to myself that this is not the book for me.

I need to start by saying that the author sent me this book in exchange for an honest review.

I need to say that this book is not a bad book by any means. It does have a low average rating and the reviews are very polarizing but the writing in this book is actually quite outstanding. Tom Toner is a very very talented author, simply in the fact that this is such a complex and deep book and he is able to build all of it so well. The 250
Lashaan Balasingam (Bookidote)
You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.

It has been a long time since my mind was challenged this way. Debut novels are often riddled with characters who are easy to cling onto, stories that pave the way for us to follow and settings that are so vivid that your imagination doesn’t need to suffer to visualize it all. The first book of a trilogy usually sets up the narrative and teases the bigger picture slowly but surely, but Tom Toner had other plans for us. With a multi-layered imagi
Paul Sánchez Keighley
This book is completely bonkers.

At first, with the opening Byron and Wilde quotes and a prologue set in mediaeval Prague, I thought it would be a Hyperion sort of deal, mixing far-future sci-fi with classic history and literature. But as I advanced it turned out to be a very different animal indeed.

While it’s certainly a space opera and includes AIs and FTL travel, I don’t think it can be considered sci-fi. Saying this book is sci-fi would be like saying The Lord of the Rings is a historical
Feb 19, 2018 marked it as on-hold  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
On hold @25%

I thought of giving up totally, but I am putting it on hold for now – maybe I’ll resume it later, if I’ll be in a better mood.

So far, I have found nothing I’m interested in: ideas, vastity, technology or extrapolation of science. There are only three characters PoV:

- Lycaste’s – which is pretty much the story of Adonis (from Greek mythology) before he saw his face in the water
- Sotiris’ – one of the Perennials, who more dreams than lives
- Corphuso’s – the inventor of the Shell, a de
Edward Cox
Nov 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I used to be a reviewer and as such I occasionally had a love/hate relationship with books like The Promise of the Child. I love it because it is unlike anything I’ve read for years, and there is something rather brilliant about it. I hate it because I’m not entirely sure I’m articulate enough to explain why. That’s not Tom or the book’s fault, but still…shut up :)

Two names that get mentioned alongside this book are Gene Wolfe and Michael Moorcock, and I can understand why as it has a fabulous
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's the 147th century and mankind has divided, or prismed, into many different subspecies, with radically different looks and cultures and, in many cases, in conflict with one another. At the top of the heap are the Aramanthine, near-immortals with almost unimaginable levels of technology that they use to rule over many of the others, although when a new challenger to their throne appears, they're thrown into conflict. Meanwhile an average citizen living his life gets into a situation where he ...more
Review also published here

Disclaimer: The author contacted me back in early February to offer me a review copy of the book. I liked the premise and sample I got on Amazon, and agreed to read & review it. I've also ordered a paperback copy on my own.

The Promise of the Child is a tough book to judge. As a debut novel, it does a lot of things right, some things wrong, but it is so utterly inventive and refreshing, trusting the reader to piece things together on their own rather than over-ex
Roddy Williams
So, I had this e-mail from Tom Toner in January 2017 asking me if I wouldn’t mind reviewing this, ‘The Promise of The Child’. I was in two minds about this as, being a generally kind sort of person, I was worried that, if I hated the novel, I would have to post a negative review. This has happened before, and I’m sure that I feel far worse about it than the authors involved who no doubt take bad reviews as part of the job and aren’t likely to track me down and give me a good kicking. They haven' ...more
Kari Rhiannon (Moon Magister Reviews)
1 star

Ok, so I actually had a couple of other reviews lined up to write before this, but I feel I need to talk about this one now. I'm usually a fan of darker books, I don't tend to get turned off by violence, or gore, or things that are just plain weird, but I do have a real bugbear with the unnecessary use of sexual violence…that, and books without a single female character of note.

So, the book…

It's touted as an epic space opera in the style of Banks or Reynolds, and it is pretty big…but also
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

For someone's first book, this is incredibly ambitious. Unfortunately, a lot becomes muddled and lost in that ambition.

Book content warnings:
sexual assault
sexism & misogyny
ableism & ableist language

This epic space opera is told in several PoVs, some less or more important to the overall story (and given more or less scene time, though that's not directly related to their importance).

But first, some background info: it's the 147t
Apr 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is more like a 3.5 for me.

I received this as a review request, it may appeal to those who like space opera. I listened to it on audible so my spelling may be off.

r/fantasy Bingo

Indie Published
Under 2500 GR
Space Opera

Hello Malazan fans, are you also into sci fi? If so, this may be your kind of thing. I skimmed through reviews after picking it up because I needed to be sure that I wasn’t the only one mystified by what was going on at around 15%. If you read through the reviews on Goodr
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, netgalley
Immortality is drowning in waking dreams that are remembered yesterdays. The phantasms of memory come and go like dense fogs overlaying the present, and when it doesn't matter whether it is really now or remembered, the balmy Utopias beckon.

Light, pure and blinding, enters a prism and bursts into multiplicity. From a technological singularity, man has colonized the stars and become the Prism, each cultivar of homo sapiens distinctly [i]alien.[/i] And the long lives, the Amaranthine, pass the slo
Oct 13, 2016 rated it it was ok
DNF - 25%

Unfortunately i had to put this down, I wasn't getting anywhere with it and i was just really confused about everything that was happening. There were way too many characters and they all became a jumble to me and i couldn't remember who was who and where they were - they all seemed to be different sort of creatures as well, which could have done with more explaining. AT 25% the story still hadn't kicked off properly and at another time, I would have kept going but unfortunately at the
Tudor Ciocarlie
An extremely rich and innovative debut novel that was not what I had expected. I thought that The Promise of the Child will be a hard-SF post-human novel like Quantum Thief, but it was a space-opera with a science-fantasy flavor. I'm very much looking forward to the next volume.
Although not an easy read, it rewards the reader's attention and is, at times, truly wondrous. Not to be missed.

Nov 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A horse walks into a bar and joins his friends at a table.
“What is this?”
“It’s a cake.”
“Looks like a book to me.”
“No, it’s a cake. Look, it’s written on the cover.”
“Oh, you’re right. What kind of cake is it?”
“I am not sure how to define it yet. It's a bitter kind of cake, like black coffee. At first you hate the taste of it, after a while you can't get enough of it. Probably it has to be one of those on the high fiction end.”
“This is My Rule of Thumb: if it’s confusing it’s sci-fi, if it's ridi
Clare O'Beara
Oct 20, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sf
Unpleasant, misogynistic and unreadable.
I have reviewed it on Fresh Fiction.

I downloaded an ARC from Net Galley and this is an unbiased review.
Catherine Edmunds
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man,” was supposedly said by the founder of the Jesuits, St Ignatius Loyola. The minute I encountered Aaron at the start of this novel I thought ‘Jesuit’! Okay, maybe that’s just me, but still – this is how Aaron operates. He manipulates. But he also makes promises.

The Prologue opens in Prague, 1319, though most of the story is set unimaginably far in the future. Aaron makes the first of his many bargains, this one with a princess who is
Sep 16, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Aesthetes afflicted with nostalgia for the never-was
Recommended to Alan by: The author
Ornate and ponderous, the literary juggernaut that is The Promise of the Child takes its own sweet time to get rolling. Once it does, though, this first volume of Tom Toner's projected Amaranthine Spectrum series is well-nigh unstoppable. Proper nouns proliferate at a dizzying rate—not just individual characters but regions, movements and factions, events and structures... the sort of thing that might prompt fans to build a wiki, obsessively cataloguing the story's manifold minutiae and retconni ...more
Alice at Raptureinbooks
How little is the promise of the child fulfilled in the man

The Promise of the Child was one of those impulse books bought because I’d attended a festival (Gollancz festival October 15th 2016 I think) with the author in attendance and I liked the sound of both him and his debut novel; I have no regrets for purchasing this book on impulse unlike some of my impulse buys.

I think, personally, that 100 pages is all you get to grab me, if your book fails to grab me by then there’s a likelihood that I’l
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Tom Toner was born in Somerset, England, in 1986. The Tropic of Eternity is the concluding volume in Toner’s debut trilogy, following The Promise of the Child and The Weight of the World.

Other books in the series

The Amaranthine Spectrum (3 books)
  • The Weight of the World (The Amaranthine Spectrum #2)
  • The Tropic of Eternity (The Amaranthine Spectrum #3)

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