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Shadows of the Apt #2

Dragonfly Falling

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Two young companions, Totho and Salma, arrive at Tark to spy on the menacing Wasp army, but are there mistakenly apprehended as enemy agents. By the time they are freed, the city is already under siege. Over in the imperial capital the young emperor, Alvdan, is becoming captivated by a remarkable slave, the vampiric Uctebri, who claims he knows of magic that can grant eternal life.

In Collegium, meanwhile, Stenwold is still trying to persuade the city magnates to take seriously the Wasp Empire's imminent threat to their survival. In a colourful drama involving mass warfare and personal combat, a small group of heroes must stand up against what seems like an unstoppable force. 

673 pages, Paperback

First published March 6, 2009

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About the author

Adrian Tchaikovsky

154 books9,938 followers
ADRIAN TCHAIKOVSKY was born in Lincolnshire and studied zoology and psychology at Reading, before practising law in Leeds. He is a keen live role-player and occasional amateur actor and is trained in stage-fighting. His literary influences include Gene Wolfe, Mervyn Peake, China Miéville, Mary Gently, Steven Erikson, Naomi Novak, Scott Lynch and Alan Campbell.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 271 reviews
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,964 followers
February 9, 2017
The good? Non-stop action. It's war and it's really war, with all the grand deaths you could ever hope, and for me, the world-building of all these insect-ish humans helps drag me *out* of feeling emotionally invested, so I could get through so much death and destruction without falling into a stupor of sadness.

Drephos really stands out as mr. mad scientist and I did really enjoy the hell out of him. The artificers in general got me going pretty good and some of the reversals were rather enjoyable, and I mean both the good reversals and the bad.

The bad? Non-stop action. It's war and it's really war, with only small scenes of character building not related to war, and while it is slightly more interesting than the first book's skirmishes, I kinda wish that I had been able to really get *into* the action rather than just note what was happening.

It's probably just a personal preference thing. I didn't really *love* any of the characters enough to pull me along with huge enthusiasm.

I can be enthusiastic about the all the insect-human races and the fact that those who can use magic can't use artificing and the same is true for the opposite, as well. Unfortunately, while I could have been dragged deep into a story that explored these rules deeper and perhaps even broke them more spectacularly, it just didn't happen enough for me to get excited.

War. War never changes. Even if it's a flying army of wasp-men fighting steampunk airships.
Profile Image for Joel.
32 reviews
October 15, 2021
New favorite author to add to the list! If you enjoy military themed fantasy (two different sieges!) great characters, and unique fantastic worldbuilding then this is for you!
Profile Image for Olivia.
709 reviews118 followers
June 19, 2021
This is the second book in the Shadows of the Apt series by Adrian Tchaikovsky.

He’s one of my favourite authors. If you're reluctant to dive into a long series without first getting to know an author, I've got a few recommendations. Fantasy: Guns of the Dawn (Austen's Elizabeth Bennet goes to war); Sci-Fi: Children of Time and Dogs of War.

The premise of the Shadows of the Apt series (which spans ten books) is simple: every species in this fantasy series is an insect-kinden, and has got the mannerisms, characteristics and qualities of said insect. We've got dragonflies, beetles, ants and flies etc.

Then one day, the Wasp Empire attacks.

This is a vast, detailed world and Tchaikovsky's love for everything that crawls is found on every page. The plot is of epic proportion with a sprawling war, and there's a huge cast of characters. Tchaikovsky excels at writing morally grey characters.

I highly recommend this series to all fans of epic fantasy. This is innovative, original and has not been done before.
Profile Image for Solseit.
308 reviews74 followers
May 25, 2023
On a re-read, this is easily a 5 star read! I do not think I caught a few remarkable things the first time around. It is a story about second chances (and there are at least three who get these second chances here). Loved the theme around choices. Top notch.

Better late than never! Review is finally in!


Review to come; I struggle to avoid gushing right now. The main features are the story (so much happening, so many different story lines balanced beautifully) and the characters. Their development is just uncanny; their morality is dubious in many cases and it makes it for an incredible journey.
I cannot wait to start Blood of the Mantis.
Profile Image for Brent.
398 reviews43 followers
April 16, 2023
Another absolutely fantastic book in this series. If the quality of the books stays this high it will make my all time favorite series list. It's such a great mix of action, politics, and characterization there really don't seem to be any weaknesses. Oh yeah and the extremely creative worldbuilding gets even better here as more kinden and characters are introduced. If you like fantasy read this series.
Profile Image for Eric.
179 reviews50 followers
February 11, 2018
4.5 Stars

That was a really good book. Dragonfly Falling took all of the good things from Empire in Black and Gold and made them better. It’s a sequel that improves on what was already a high quality start to the series and takes it to even greater heights.

At the end of the first book Stenwold and his charges had managed to stop the Wasp’s attempt to take Collegium by surprise. But now the real war begins. The hidden strategies are over and the Wasp Empire makes its move to take over the Lowlands.

Like the first book, the story is told from a number of different POV. Certain characters got more page time than others. In Empire in Black and Gold, Cheerwell and Tynisa got a lot of attention. Neither of them got quite as much time this go round. Instead there were more chapters focused on Totho, Salma, and Stenwold. For the most part I thoroughly enjoyed all 3, although for me Stenwold’s story was easily the most interesting.

While I really enjoyed the first book, the plot did seem a bit slow at times. That is definitely not an issue here as the action starts early and never lets up. There are some truly incredible battle scenes in this book, from the siege of Tark to the assault on another city. The combination of the technology with the unique abilities of the different kinden made for some very unique and compelling sequences. I definitely wouldn’t consider this book grimdark because of the more likable characters and lack of dreary tone but some of the action is still brutal.

We also got to see a bit more detail about some of the different kinden in this book. The Ants were a big part of the story and their shared mind perspective was interesting. We also got to learn some more about the Mantids and Dragonflies. The author did a superb job building upon the foundation from the first book to add more layers to the different races, including the Wasps. In Dragonfly Falling a bit more is revealed about them and I’m curious to see what comes of some of the plot points seeded in this book.

The only real negative for me is that I’m still not a huge fan of the author’s writing style. Some of the phrasing and dialogue still feels a bit awkward. There are also some POV switches that happen without any real warning, although it seemed like fewer than in the first book.

I really enjoyed Empire in Black and Gold and Dragonfly Falling was even better. I've heard from a few people that the series improves as it goes on. If that's the case this could end up being a favorite series.
Profile Image for Gabi.
693 reviews120 followers
March 25, 2023
The second book is even more about war than the first one ... strictly speaking it is one long account of war on several fronts. At first I wasn't sure I'd like that, but as the war goes on, the known characters from book one find themselves in different places and sometimes even on different sides of the battle. Some get even more depth and grey layers which is quite rewarding to witness. My two favs from book one, Cheerwell and Tynisa, didn't get many scenes in this second book, but I was assured by the author himself that Cheerwell will play a major role later on, which delights me to no end.

So even though this second book is 600 pages about nothing but warfaring, I found myself again hooked and rooting for the characters. This is what I wanted to have in a book. After several Fantasy books I've dragged through I'm especially happy to finally have started this series which is worth my time!
Profile Image for John McDermott.
373 reviews47 followers
July 22, 2021
This was a real step up from Empire of Black and Gold and I had a great time reading this sequel. Epic is definitely the best word to describe Dragonfly Falling as you experience huge battles and sieges across Tchaikovskys' world. Loved all the characters as they really get suffer the brutality of war and while these books may not be of the grimdark variety it is certainly unstinting in the level of violence.
The concept of humans with insect abilities is really cool and the author really delivers on this in a big way.
So, if you want the excellent characterisations of Gemmel with the intense action of Abercrombie set in a world that has the depth and complexity of the Malazan,then this is the series for you.
Brilliant and highly recommended.
Profile Image for Chris Berko.
466 reviews115 followers
August 19, 2017
Definitely an improvement on the first, which was no slouch of a book. Bigger in scope but not hard to follow. There's a lot going on in here, a technological evolution, multiple war fronts, interpersonal drama, politics, a lot of shit. But it is fun throughout and highly highly original. Fo sho continuing the series.
Profile Image for Metodi Markov.
1,303 reviews301 followers
August 31, 2022
В "Разединени равнини" приключенията на майстор Стенуолд Трудан и неговите агенти продължават стремително.

Виждаме израстването им в тази сложна обстановка на кръвопролитни сражения, всички те трябва да направят своя избор и не винаги това е очевидния такъв за читателя.

Империята на осите тръгва открито да завоюва Равнините, но тогава се намесват и паяците, стояли до този момент настрана от конфликта.

Продължавам с третата и четвъртата част, където ще е развръзката на тази първа четирилогия от серията "Сянката на умелите"!
Profile Image for Mark.
989 reviews63 followers
June 19, 2011
"Have you any idea how many bolts we've loosed in the last few seconds? Let Malkan spend his men instead, because they are more easily replaced."

I expected more of the same from the first book of this series, and when I read Dragonfly Falling, I was very surprised, because where the first book is at most a story of duels and skirmishes and guerrilla battles in the streets, this one drops you into a war. And I don't mean that there is a whole book worth of setup and then the war is the climax. The war rages through the whole book and there's not much pausing to catch one's breath for either the characters or the reader. It's army vs. army and there are a lot of armies and there is a lot of death.

It's rare in epic fantasy to really cut to the core of war as a dehumanizing thing, because most focuses on the valor of the heroes of the given story. Even in something like A Song of Ice and Fire, for all of its gritty realist take on fantasy, it's really only one shred of the story (Arya in books 2-3 and Brienne in book 4) where the cost of war is brought home to the reader in the way that it is here. That's because something like the Battle of the Blackwater happens only through the eyes of a handful of POV characters, but Tchaikovsky's mode of telling the story gives you a much more total experience as the Wasp Empire begins its war against the Lowlands and the Lowlands, to the surprise of all, rally to fight back. And the scale of this war is epic, and it's told in an epic way in the classic sense. There are a huge number of characters who seem to be introduced only to be killed, reminiscent of something like The Iliad in the way that the reader is there with them in their final moments. The sheer number of these drives home that tragedy of war: that the lives of those people all amounted to naught because they're grist for the mill.

The blend of the fantasy and the steampunk is fantastic here, with a lot of focus in this volume on the core of that technology being to devise new and more effective ways for different people to kill one another. It's telling how the artificers on different sides of the conflict respond to the use of their creations. A brilliant character of the Wasp Empire is introduced here to drive this home: Colonel-Auxilian Drephos, whose frequent monologues espouse the notion that people would be killing one another with sticks and stones if there were no machines, and so why not use his intelligence to streamline the process of those people (whom he repeatedly refers to as just meat) to kill one another? He is mad and he is a genius. When I read a new series I often find myself comparing characters to the standard archetypes, and how certain qualities remind me of certain characters from another work. Drephos certainly fits the mad scientist vein, but he's so unlike the way this is usually presented because we see him in his element, and not as a direct antagonist because he, himself, is not taking the field against the good guys, nor sending assassins to kidnap/kill someone's child or whatever.

Also introduced in this volume is the Emperor of the Wasps, which I think was important to do at this point because it shows the power behind the menace. He is not directly a significant character here, but clearly he will be impacting the story in subsequent volumes.

This is really a great second installment. If what's left of the series is anywhere near this level, then there's something special on our hands.
Profile Image for Phil.
1,612 reviews104 followers
October 2, 2021
Mr. T's second novel and the next installment of the Shadows of the Apt continues the saga of the Lowlands and the Wasp's empire's military adventures to conquer it, one city at a time. Mr T has build an intriguing world here; at one time, various huge insects dominated humanity, but somehow (magic?) humans adapted, sporting/becoming somewhat insect like themselves and mastering the bugs with their 'art'. Hence, we have wasp-kinden, beetle-kinden, ant-kinden, spider-kinden and so forth. Each kinden has their own art-- ant-kinden have telepathy with one another, wasp-kinden can shoot fireballs from their hands, and on and on.

The wasp empire is relatively new on the scene, cobbled together over just a few generations, transforming the wasps from a bunch of squabbling tribes into an empire. After a brutal 12 year war against the Dragonfly lands, the wasps now eye the lowlands-- the center of the Apt. 500 years ago, the moth-kinden ruled humanity, their strange magic backed up by the cold steel of the Mantis-kinden-- stone cold warriors. The former slave races/kinden threw off their chains, however, and carved their own ways, utilizing technology (e.g, the 'apt'). The former rulers-- moths, mantis, spiders, etc., are known as 'inapt' in that they cannot make sense of or use 'modern' technology, even things like crossbows. The former slave races, however, march forth with ever new and developing tech, very steampunkish even though steam power is not very often utilized.

The last volume left us with a cliffhanger-- the wasps were about to besiege an ant city and another wasp army was threatening the heart of the lowlands. Mr. T takes us on a blood soaked journey here, with war manifesting in all its ugliness. Our main protagonists remain the same: Stenwold Maker, a beetle from Collegium, the center of learning of the lowlands; 'Che' Maker, Stenwold's niece who has fallen for Achaeos a moth; Tisamon, a Mantis-kinden weaponmaster and his daughter Tynisa (half spider); Salma, a Dragonfly nobleman, Totho, a halfbreed artificer and so forth.

In a way, this novel seems to be one bloodbath after another, and for sure it is, but on the other hand, we get to see some pretty rich character development and world building on display as well. More and more kinden are introduced and we begin to catch a glimpse of how huge the world actually is-- the lowlands are a very small part of the whole.

Mr. T is known for his biological 'constructs' and his kinden are a pleasure, each with their own 'art', and the technology is amazing as well-- flying machines of all sorts, 'automobiles' something like military ATVs, repeating crossbows and nailguns, all kinds of tools of war. We learn much about the ants here, perhaps the most warlike of the lowlanders, but also more of the Mantis-kinden as well. Tricky spiders with their cunning and endless 'dance' of guile and deceit politically, and of course, the wasps and their secret police pulling strings where ever they can.

My primary issues with this concern the uneven pacing at times; at times a bit of a slog, and in other places, impossible to put down. Yet, Tchaikovsky seems to be getting better at this the second time around. It almost feels like he has so many cool ideas that the narrative gets in the way a bit! Nonetheless, overall a gripping read. Highly recommended if you like military fantasy. 4 buggy stars!
Profile Image for Emiliya Bozhilova.
1,256 reviews185 followers
May 23, 2021
В този втори том нещата загрубяха, т. е. станаха епични. Нацистко-осородната заплаха плъзва из цяла Европа, пардон - Равнините. Запознаваме се с висшия ешелон на осородната власт, пътуваме до свещения остров на богомолките (те май са нещо като викингите), научаваме много за мравкородните (японци-китайци-корейци), а се появява и интелигентно-технократски-гениален безскрупулен фентъзи двойник на Вернер фон Браун. Започва бомбардировката над Лондон, т.е. обсадата на Колегиум. Битки и интриги изскачат зад всеки камък и борче.

Силата на Чайковски е, че има богато въображение и същевременно спестява ненужни илюзии на читателя и не обижда излишно интелигентността му. Дори в това ескейпистко приключение неприятни истини, подмолни пластове, обрати не по матрица и липса на комиксовото разделение добри-лоши надзъртат от всеки герой или случка. Героите му са сложни, живи, кървят и умират, без да се изпада в самоцела на дЕдо Мартин. Няма я защитната и сляпа YA мрежа в мозъците им (най-вече на новата вълна YA “как-пък-не-романтични” авторки) и да ги спасява тъкмо преди някоя неприятност.

Естествено, поопростил е политическата обстановка като за по-млади читатели. Тъй като до десети том има да изтече още бая мастило, тук има поне едно 200 страници излишни, посветени на ненужни второстепенни герои и странични сблъсъци, а сюжетната линия на Салма и неговата пеперуда я е хванала липсата. Но пък дори и те не натежават чак толкова и са приятни.

Да видим какво ще изскочи от кутията на Пандора (буквално, тъй като отмъкнаха баш този артефакт от Колегиум) по-нататък.

🐜 “Паропс беше крайно ексцентричен по мравешките стандарти, което означаваше, че от време на време го занимават необичайни мисли.”

🐝 “Ако си затвориш очите за месото, ако измислиш някакъв начин да го отстраниш от картинката, войната беше поредният процес, който подлежи на постоянно усъвършенстване.”

🐝 “Занаятите се хранят от войната, Тото. Убеден съм, че го разбираш. И войната се храни от занаятите”

🪲 “лично аз предпочитам да преподавам история, а не да я творя.”

🪲 “Колкото до съмнението, те безспорно се съмняваха, но не в това, в което трябваше.”

🐜 “отхвърлила беше чувствата му по най-лошия начин — дори не се бе досетила за тях.”
Profile Image for aria ♡.
654 reviews46 followers
July 25, 2022
Take away my machines and they would be at each other’s throats with swords and knives instead. Then take away their steel and they would pick up rocks and clubs. There is no saving them: they are merely the fuel for war’s engines. Only we, Totho – we are the point, the reason. We, because, alone amongst this destruction, we create, and we create so that they may destroy, so that we may create anew.

Let me scream in the pure bliss that I experienced while reading this book. Oh, the sieges. The beautiful, monstrous, life-ending sieges!!! AHHH! Okay. Okay. Let me try and put all my thoughts somewhat coherently.

“Dragonfly Falling” is the second instalment in the Shadows of the Apt series by Adrian Tchaikovsky, who has now cemented himself as one of my favourite authors. The man outdid himself. Now, the book picks up after the end of Empire in Black and Gold but we are introduced to a new character, the Emperor of the Wasp Kinden. Different from the first instalment, Dragonfly Falling has an array of characters, many of them having recurring point of views throughout the book. These different characters give us a needed point of view of the other side of the story.

The book is definitely more plot-driven than character-driven with what I feel is Tchaikosvky setting up the rest of the series. There are multiple battles in this book as the characters are spread out in the Lowlands. While Salma and Totho are in the Ant city state of Tark, Stenwold, Tynisa and Tisamon remain in Collegium with Che and Achaeos having been sent out to try and get the rest of the Lowlands to band together. We are introduced to another character named Felise Mienn, a dragonfly hunting down Thalric across the Lowlands and she is the definition of a slightly deranged girlboss. Dariandrephos (Drephos) is an artificer working for the wasp empire. A half-breed of wasp and moth and he is the mad scientist character who just wants to invent weapons. He may be a bit mad but it’s a quirky trait you grow to love. Thalric continues to work for the Rekef and serving his empire.

We are all grown now. Che, when the Wasps enslaved her and put her before their torture machines. Tynisa when she discovered her birthright. To me on the point of a sword . . . and to Totho here and now. We have put childish things behind us, and look at the world we have grown into.

Che and Achaeos are barely in the book so there’s not much to say about them other than I am so excited for Achaeos’ storyline in the next book. Let’s see that awesome Inapt magic. I sadly still don’t care for Tisamon and Tynisa which sucks, cause the next book is named Blood of the Mantis and I just don’t care about them (lol). Though I am excited for the certain journey they will be taking. In this book, we see Tisamon take Tynisa back to his homeland for her Mantis’ rite of passage. Thalric isn’t well explored in this book with little to no screen time and that slightly disappointed me because I found his character fascinating and he was a favourite in the first book along with Stenwold, but those two were quickly swept away by a certain character’s incredible character arc. The characters I want to focus on are Salma, Stenwold and Totho.

I was severely disappointed by Salma’s storyline in this book. Despite the fact that the title references Dragonflies, our very own dragonfly character barely gets screen time and when he does, he’s just pining over what’s her name. I am excited for where his character ended up and is heading towards. I just hope he gets the attention he deserves in the later books. As Salma said:
‘In the Lowlands they don’t understand it. In the Empire too I’d guess. I’d almost forgotten it myself, but I am a prince and that still means something, wherever I am.’
You better remember Salma, you better.

The “Defence of Collegium” was one of the best parts of this book. It was a perfect representation of what I love so much about military fantasy. The siege was so well-done and executed that I found myself crying in some instances. The only thing I hated was whatever the hell Stenwold was doing. I understand the reasoning for the whole situation and I’m happy he actually has a flaw but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. That whole situation removed him from my favourite character of the series. I was rolling my eyes the whole time.

Totho. Totho! Totho!! In the span of time it took me to finish the audiobook, Totho just swooped in and became one of my favourite characters. Being a half-breed, he is used to being ignored and taken for granted, even by those considered his friends and family such as Stenwold, Che, Salma and Tynisa. And this resentment has been unknowingly growing in him and when he meets Drephos (I love this mad scientist so much), it all goes to hell and I loved every single second of it. That last scene with Drephos was so chilling to the bone and I just UGH!!!. I can’t wait to see where his character goes and I’m honestly rooting for him.

*sweeps Stenwold and Thalric (still have hope for him) aside*



The themes explored in this book about war are glorious. Especially the relation between scientific advancement and war. As the quote I first highlighted explained, it is during war that most weapons are invented. Look at our own world and the nuclear bomb. Look at Oppenheimer’s reaction to the weapon he created. Look at that parallel reaction between Master Graden and Drephos with that character. Adrian Tchaikovksy you genius. I love you. I can’t wait for the next book.

But he was an artificer and this war was an artificer’s thing, a mechanical process cranked over and over by the constant refinement of the weaponsmith and the armourer, the automotive engineer and the volatiles chemist. Seen in that light, in that harsh but clear light, the whole business became somehow admirable. If he looked past the meat, contrived not to see it, then it was just another process that sharpened and honed itself each time it was set in motion.
Profile Image for Daniel.
722 reviews51 followers
July 9, 2012
Book the first grabbed me with its adventurous plot and a handful of character relationships that offered interesting drama. In the sequel, Tchaikovsky picks up these two threads and then adds a bunch of political machinations and warmongering. We meet some royal and military personages and we dally in map rooms and throne rooms and other places where big decisions get made by the big bad asses in the story.

All of this maneuvering: not interesting.

BAD GUYS: Let's push this army over here.

BAD EMPEROR: Make it so.

GOOD GUYS: I think the army's going over there, let's mess with them.

BAD EMPEROR: What went wrong?

BAD GUYS: We don't know.

BAD EMPEROR: The guilty parties will be punished and their women made into my latest concubines. I am evil and I will have wicked sex with anyone who wrongs me!

BAD GUYS: We have another plan.

BAD EMPEROR: Make it so.

On the plus side, Tchaikovsky keeps selling his insect totem-based society with good ideas that he introduces throughout the story without info-dumps or "Wow lookee at my World-building technique!" moments. It's an impressive accomplishment whose magnitude is made clear to me every time I try to explain the premise of this series to the uninitiated. To read it is to believe it.

Overall: this was fun, and I kept reading.
Profile Image for Beaulah Pragg.
Author 21 books15 followers
April 20, 2012
With his series, Shadows of the Apt, Adrian Tchaikovsky has created a vast, detailed world, peopled with a wide variety of races that each have their own, unique looks and skills. Inside this place, there is a war coming... a war that will change the face of the 'lowlands' forever.

The interesting thing about this series, which I must admit put me off a little at the beginning, is the way that everyone is associated with different forms of insects - from beetles through to dragonflies, wasps, spiders etc. Yet now, having finished the second book, I find it is one of my favourite things. The races are as unique as aliens in Star Wars or Star Trek, with ancient race hatreds and the scorn of cross breeds, but still capable of joining forces to face a greater enemy, if persuaded by the right people.

I liked that Tchaikovsky uses the grand, sprawling and epic battles and journeys to further the development of the main characters and none of the battle scenes feel like repeats of previous ones. The characters are solid enough to carry even someone who usually detests battle scenes (me). I also appreciate that the main characters have their flaws without being defined by them. Even those that 'turn to the dark side' as it were, still leave me hoping desperately that they will return or make the right decision in the end.

Because of the depth and scale of this book, I very strongly recommend you read Book One: Empire in Black and Gold, before tackling this one, otherwise the insect thing is very confusing and there are far too many characters to get your head around. I suspect that this series would appeal more to male fantasy readers than female (because of the focus on epic war and machines rather than developing relationships) but having said that, there are more than enough awesome female characters to keep me interested, and relationships certainly do feature here and there (often between the lines).

In conclusion, I think that Adrian Tchaikovsky has created a worthy fantasy masterpiece and I can't wait to discover how a war of such huge proportions can possibly be resolved in the final instalment.
Profile Image for Бранимир Събев.
Author 33 books185 followers
October 15, 2013
Империята на осите продължава да се разраства, но така е с големите империи - трябва постоянно да растат, да обсебват нови територии и ресурси, защото в противен случай просто ще загният и ще се разпаднат. Следващата цел са основните, важни градове в Равнините - Тарк, крепост на мравкородни, всеизвестният с фабриките и престъпността си Хелерон и... космополитния Колегиум, средището на Академията, философията, занаятите и родно място на нашите герои.

Докато обаче войните текат по куп фронтове, Императора на Осите се е прицелил в нещо по-могъщо, което ще наложи властта му над целия свят без проблеми - страховит артефакт, известен на малцина. За това ще спомогне представител на древна, зловеща раса, считана за изчезнала - раса, с която нощем майките плашат децата си, ако не искат да спят, раса, легендарна в ужасяващите си щения и с афинитет към магията, на който биха завидяли и молецородните, които са били основните й екстерминатори.

Чайковски не изневерява на стила си - книгата по нищо не отстъпва на предходната, просто е логично нейно продължение. За разлика от "Империя в Черно и Златно", където основните стълкновения бяха от дуелен тип или сблъсък между две групи, тук си имаме истинска война, хора - огромни армии се сблъскват, щурмуват се стени, обсаждат се градове, в сила влизат куп изобретения, някои от които дори не са били предназначени за военни действия.

Авторът опитно развива предишните сюжетни линии, добавяйки нови и нови такива, плюс нови и нови играчи и персонажи на сцената, заплитайки такова кълбо, че направо се чудя какво ще е разплитането му - в добрия смисъл, разбира се. Имаме и немалко нови раси - конощипородните, огромни над три метра гиганти, чието Умение е да копаят както никой друг с голи ръце, скръбноликите мокрицородни, огнените мравки с червени очи и др. Интересното е, че тук в центъра на събитията застават полуродните: мелезът между мравка и бръмбар Тото, живото противоречие Тиниса, наполовина паяк, наполовина богомолка, две раси, които се ненавиждат от хилядолетия. На сцената излиза и още един, но няма да спойлвам повече.

Извънредно съм доволен и препоръчвам горещо - който е прочел първата книга, да хваща и останалите, нещо, което и аз ще направя. А ако сте фенове на фентъзито, било то класическо или модерно, не се колебайте да започнете поредицата. Чайковски е постигнал такъв уникален баланс между стиймпънк и магия, че ще ви зариби със сигурност.
Profile Image for Trent.
315 reviews41 followers
December 22, 2021
This one took me much longer to read than Book 1, but I still enjoyed it.

The world-building is still just as enthralling and original as before - if anything, even better than Book 1. There are very few series that can match Shadows of the Apt in this area.

I also really enjoyed the way this book moved forward the overall arc of the series.

Some flaws started to show, however.

For one, while I do still very much enjoy most of the characters introduced in Book 1, Tchaikovsky introduces TONS more in this book, and I found myself getting a bit overwhelmed. Combine that with that fact the the author also likes to jump quickly between POV's and I had to stop a reread a ton of passages.

This book also had significantly more action than Book 1. In some ways that was fun, but it was also chaotic. Again, the bouncing around, but also - not much time to get know these new characters.

Overall, this is a good book that leaves me definitely wanting to read Book 3. It's not perfect, however, and I would be lying if I said I wasn't at least a little disspointed after how much I enjoyed Book 1.
Profile Image for Jason.
1,179 reviews255 followers
March 8, 2010
This is really such a great novel, that it is hard to believe that is the second book of a series. This is an extremely fast paced, relentless, and unforgiving story that puts all our heroes in death's way. This novel is filled with plot twists and character development all the while it is a novel about war. I really have grown to love the insect kinden take on race and think that it makes for great fantasy. I will definately pick up the 3rd book now and recommend all fantasy readers to jump into the Shadows of the Apt series.
Profile Image for Lucas.
242 reviews
April 8, 2023
The bugs must flow. Great book 2. Tchaikovsky challenges and develops the characters really well and places them in difficult situations where they change greatly. The world and lore also reveals further depths. Hyped to continue next month.
Profile Image for David.
Author 18 books337 followers
August 9, 2022
Horse-choking epic fantasy series are kind of out of style nowadays unless your name is either (a) George R. R. Martin or (b) Brandon Sanderson. Adrian Tchaikovsky isn't either of those guys. But his name should be more well-known in the genre because he writes crackin' good epic fantasy. It's not super-original, it's not poetic or brilliant, it's not a genre-redefining series. That may sound like damning with what it isn't, but Shadows of the Apt is a series that basically delivers what's on the tin, a big sprawling war and fantasy races in a secondary world kind of like ours, with a mix of ancient magic and steampunk and people who are part bug.... what's not to love? Tchaikovsky's prose is smooth, his characters are full of feelings and believable dialog, and his world feels like something that would be fun to roleplay in, but unlike Brandon Sanderson's worlds, does not feel like it was made to be roleplayed in.

In the first book, Empire in Black and Gold, we learned about the kinden of this world. Everyone is human, there are no "fantasy races." Except... everyone is a "kinden" of some sort of insect. There are Wasp-kinden, Ant-kinden, Spider-kinden, Beetle-kinden, Dragonfly-kinden, Fly-kinden, Mantis-kinden, and so on and so on. Kinden all have a characteristic ability and usually a temperament to go with it. Ant-kinden are natural soldiers and mentally "networked" with their fellow Ants. Spider-kinden are sneaky and natural conspirators and manipulators. Beetle-kinden are tough and natural artificers. Fly-kinden... can fly. And so on.

There are a lot of insect species, so Tchaikovsky has plenty of kinden to invent later. After two books we've seen at least a dozen and others have been mentioned, and I'm sure eventually we'll meet Ladybug-kinden and Cockroach-kinden, whatever the hell they do.

Then there are the Wasps. Wasp-kinden are the bad guys of the series, at least so far. The Wasps, in a clear parallel to the Roman Empire, began as a bunch of angry hill tribes fighting each other and stealing their neighbor's cattle, until they all united under an Emperor and now they're becoming a military power that is rolling over everything in their path.

Stenwold Maker, a Beetle, is the main protagonist of the story, though there are several viewpoint characters. Stenwold spent most of the last book trying to persuade his stodgy academic peers in the city of Collegium that the Wasps were a threat, that their very polite ambassador who came to them saying the Wasp Empire absolutely had no intention of invading anything nearby was full of shit. Naturally, no one listened, and naturally, in this book, everyone is wishing they had.

There are a bunch of battles in Dragonfly Falling, and plenty of intrigue. Cities are besieged and new weapons are unveiled to lethal effect. While Stenwold continues to act as spymaster and strategist, his old buddy Tisamon has gone with his daughter Tynisa (a Spider/Mantis half-breed) to face judgment among Tisamon's people and hopefully recruit allies against the Wasps. The Wasp officer Thalric returns, still playing the role of troubled "honorable Nazi" loyally serving an empire he knows in his heart is evil. We get a few chapters about the Wasp Emperor, who turns out to be as big a bastard as you'd expect. He enjoys terrorizing his minions, tormenting his younger sister and constantly reminding her he will probably have her killed any day now, and dreaming of immortality thanks to the captured Mosquito-kinden he keeps locked in a dungeon. This Mosquito is obviously planning something, and as with the first book, while the world is mostly a low-fantasy one on the cusp of an industrial revolution, there are hints of magic and ancient sorcerous powers, so I suspect the Wasps are eventually going to unleash something worse than themselves.

So this is a big fat book for people who like big fat books with lots of characters and sub-plots. Tchaikovsky isn't trying too hard to be clever or plant easter eggs or be grimdark, he just enjoys telling a story.
Profile Image for Julia.
59 reviews3 followers
January 1, 2023

An excellent continuation of the story, world building and characters whose relationships are constantly developing against the backdrop of the imminent war. I think my favourite are the Mantis kinden, I love the way they fight and their characters are fascinating.

This book focuses on the take over of the other kinden and their countries by the wasps. I found this to be interesting as there were many different tactics used by all sides and by the characters in the previous book and also new ones too. It also brings up some moral questions about war and it’s consequences.

On the whole a satisfying story which kept me entertained right up to the end. Jam packed full of action, sieges and battles. I’m Looking forward to the next..
Profile Image for Justin Sarginson.
909 reviews11 followers
April 25, 2022
It's been a time since I read the first book, so I initially found this confusing with the plethora of characters and scenarios, but I was soon back up to speed and enjoying this instalment.
The scale of ambition should be applauded but this book is full of drama, action and events which just drives the plot forward at a enjoyable pace. This author is undoubtable skilled and able and this book illustrates well his enjoyment and ability within science fiction.
Profile Image for Blaise.
304 reviews69 followers
February 19, 2021
More reviews at undertheradarsffbooks.com

Welcome back to the Lowlands, where the wasp empire is expanding its reach across the world with the threat of war at the doorstep of the other Kinden. If you thought there was no way Adrian Tchaikovsky could possible top the incredible ride we all experienced in Empire in Black and Gold, you are sadly mistaken. Dragonfly Falling has so many themes, twist, character growth, and the harsh realities of war that I can’t consider this sequel anything short of a triumph for the epic fantasy genre. This series is too good to not be more widely known and enjoyed in the SFF community and I’m excited to reread each book and post about my level of enjoyment once again! This will be a spoiler free review but I will be touching upon events that take place in book 1.

Totho and Salma, arrive at the ant Kinden city of Tark to spy on the menacing Wasp army. Tark is preparing for war and is mustering the troops for the eventual battle. We actually get perspectives from the ant Kinden and it was interesting to learn about there culture and abilities to communicate through each others minds. Unfortunately, Totho and Salma are mistakenly apprehended as enemy agents and taken into the wasp Kinden camp. By the time they are freed, the city is already under siege.

Over in the imperial capital the young emperor, Alvdan, rules with an iron fist and is becoming more and more melancholy about his eventually fatality. Alvdan is not married and has not produced a royal heir for succession. Every other bastard child he has fathered has been killed and buried as a enemy of war. In the basement of the throne room, he is becoming captivated by a remarkable slave, the vampiric Uctebri, who claims he knows of magic that can grant eternal life. Uctebri is a mosquito Kinden whom many have thought to be extinct. Like his cousin moth Kinden, Uctebri can see and predict the future but he needs royal blood in order for his magic to work. When Uctebri tells the emperor of a magical item known as the shadow box, Alvdan becomes ecstatic when he learns that the box can grant immortality. Alvdan sends out his generals to look for this magical artifact, without knowing that Uctebri has other plans in mind for the box.

In Collegium, meanwhile, Stenwold is still trying to persuade the city magnates to take seriously the Wasp Empire’s imminent threat to their survival. In a colorful drama involving mass warfare and personal combat, a small group of heroes must stand up against what seems like an unstoppable force. Finally, Tynisa and Tisamon are busy in training when Tisamon realizes that Tynisa is just as good a warrior as he is. Tisamon decides that Tynisa is ready for the trials of his homeland but he fears how his Kinden will react to Tynisa since she is a half breed. The past of the Mantis Kinden will be reviled and the lore of the Lowlands be expanded in great depths, but this is just the beginning.

I realize that this was a long synopsis, but I can’t stop guessing about the wonderful experience I had reading this series. That characters who stood out to me in Dragonfly Falling have to be Totho and Stenwold. Totho, having realized that his love for Cheerwell was not reciprocated, is going about his duty to protect the Lowlands from the wasp empire. Totho has to make a dark choice in this novel and the repercussion will be felt throughout the empire. The emotional shifts you will experience when reading Tothos chapters will be bone chilling to say that least. Stenwold has the weight of the world on his shoulders when trying to save the Collegium from the invading wasp empire. Drastic choices and sacrifices must be made and if his worry, Stenfold will come across a long lost companion from the past who isn’t what she seems.

Dragonfly Falling was a fantastic novel to reread after so many years. Characters, plot, war, worldbuilding, and magic are all at the top of their game and Adrian Tchaikovsky is a master of his craft. The only thing I have left to say is READ THIS SERIES! You will be glad you did.

Profile Image for Tom Maguire.
52 reviews8 followers
March 28, 2022
Dragonfly Falling takes and improves on all the characters and plots set out in Empire of Black & Gold, even better than the first.

I have a feeling the majority of my reading this year is going to be Shadows of the Apt.
Profile Image for Kai.
171 reviews11 followers
August 28, 2022
Dragonfly Falling continues to thrill with even more epic siege battles and even less boring politics or dialogs that would unnecessarily distract from the action. When it comes to heart-pounding prose, Tchaikovsky really is my favorite at the moment.

There are various threads to follow (see the great summary on reddit if you need to refresh your memory). Stenwold is back at Collegium, even more eager to convince its leader of the imminent threat of the Wasp Empire. Salma and Totho are on their way to the Ant city state of Tark, right before the town will be under Wasp attack. The one is in search for love, the slave girl he met in captivity in the previous novel; and the other running from love, still hurt deeply by the fact that Cheerwell fell for Achaeos rather than him. Meanwhile, the latter two were sent by Stenwold to the Ant city of Sarn to seek their help (apparently, there was some sort of allegiance in the past). Tisamon and Tynisa are on their way to the Mantis blademaster sect where he hopes his daughter may receive their special training.

We also meet the empire himself for the first time, Alvdan II. It turns out, he has a Mosquito-kinden prisoner, a member of the legendary race thought extinct. Capable of tapping into a source of power, he promises him eternal life (while secretly following his own agenda with Alvdan's sister). His vampirism (like the insect) added to the dark atmosphere around him. Finally, there is a somehow crazy Dragonfly woman whose only purpose is to kill Thalric (for reasons initially unknown).

From these starting points, the story goes to some interesting places. Salma becomes the leader of his own army of outcast, while Totho becomes chief artificer of the enemy. Before that, the two ran into an artist, a Fly named Nero, who for the first time in his life finds the courage to join the good cause. Armies suddenly show up in battle to save the day at the very last minute, the reveal of new technologies changes their course, and much ingenuity can be decisive, too. At times things are looking quite dire indeed. We see a weaker side of Stenwold when he takes sexual advantage of a young student of his. When forces in the Wasp leadership turn against him, Thalric tries to form a pact with Stenwold.

I very much enjoyed how the enmities between the races play out here. There are prejudices and resentments that make them very wary towards each other. The Moths despise the Beetles, which makes Cheerwell and Achaeos a rather strange couple. Spiders are the enemy of the Mantis, which makes Tynisa a freakish halfbreed. Moreover, the Spider realm is terra incognita to outsiders, yet it's them that take chances and rush to Collegium's rescue. The honorably tone of conversation in the aftermath well conveyed the singularity of the events.

Of the newly introduced abilities, I especially loved the Ant's hive mind. While their cities are superficially completely silent, information passes from on from neighbor to neighbor in an instant. It gives them the power to strike the most coordinated attacks. The Wasps are special because they not only have slaves (many races do), but because they use them in their armies. There are even some giants in their ranks, the mole crickets. Of the Inapt we learn that they wouldn't even be able to open the mechanisms of Beetle doors. The Ancestor Art can arm the Mantis as well as the Spiders with claws out of their knuckles (was this fact in the first novel already?). As in the real world, Flies are everywhere, but they very much keep to themselves. They are no real fighters, but they have a strong interest in treasures (not necessarily their own) and other illegal activities. In their clothing, they are as plain as their paragon.

To some extent, politics is involved, though it often takes place in the off. The Ants are known for fighting among each other as they are fragmented in various city states. In the past, Vek wasn't able to conquer Collegium (mainly because of its allegiance with Sarn), which still nags at them. The Empire helps them to strike another attack, expecting that they would defeat each other. The scheming is never the focus, but it does have cool effects on the overall unraveling of events.

There are some truly captivating moments. For instance, Tynisa reenters the novel by her appearance as fighter in the Prowess Forum of Collegium. Her opponent she knew from the time before she left, though he stands no chance. More impressive still is the awesome entry of Felise Mienn. What a fighter! She pinned the ear of the guy against the wall by throwing her knife and is also capable of casting magical weapons from her hands. Initially it seems as if for her killing is like ecstasy, though her mind is even more in turmoil. When she steps out of her blood frenzy, she doesn't even know what is going on. Her character never takes center stage, but I was still interested in the reasons of why she was like that (and what's with the guy who travels with her?). Her relationship with Tisamon, who finds in her the first truly equal opponent in a very long time, has potential, too.

There were other great action sequences. For instance, there is the nightly raid on the Empire's aircrafts. it turns into the fiercest of battles, and it doesn't take long before the Intruders are head deep in water (it then that Topho becomes prisoner of the Auxiliary). I was also shocked by the moment when the ting of Tark orders that Parops would take the 800 men to his command and flee the city. "Leave our city. Find somewhere else for yourself and your men. And when the time is right, Parops, whether it be you and your men, or your children or their children, reclaim our city from the invader." Not long thereafter, and somewhat in passing to the events depicted, Helleron falls to the Wasps, too. And the railway escape of Sarn after the Wasps suddenly pull out their new airbows (designed by Topho), that was quite the Dunkirk moment. Things don't look too good, do they?

The narrative often encompasses the side of the attackers, so the reader learns about their strategy. It adds an element of suspense, as we often know about coming threats when our heroes still celebrate their minor victories. Collegium has some tricks in its sleeves, though. The brave jetpack attackers and the bomb-placing submarine were kind of cool. Eventually, every civilian of Collegium is fighting, including the youngest and oldest. It's the kind of development that never gets old.

I wasn't completely sold on some of the character developments. I mean, Topho traveling around for no apparent reason, then turning sides? It was a bit too convenient for the plot. And it really was too cringeworthy when he remarks, "I have become the destroyer" (I mean, really?). Sure, I can understand the bargain to join the Wasp ranks in exchange for Selma's life, I can emphasize with his pain and I can see his desire for recognition. Still, it didn't feel believe overall.

All's well that ends well. The Vekken army stands defeated. Cheerwell, who had the bad luck of being taken prisoner over and over again, is freed by Topho as one last favor, even given to her the blueprint for their new secret weapon (with the twist that secretly this was exactly what Drephos intended, to boost the rate of innovation). There is the heartwarming reunion of her and Salma, who I think hadn't seen each other for the entire novel. I have to say, I was very keen to see where their journeys would lead next!

Rating: 4/5
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Patremagne.
223 reviews69 followers
May 22, 2013

In Dragonfly Falling, second novel of Shadows of the Apt, the plot that began in Empire in Black and Gold continues at a breakneck pace. We meet new characters, find new motives in old characters, and are shown a multitude of twists that come completely unexpected.

Dragonfly Falling is about war. The entirety of the novel takes us from siege to siege, battle to battle, and duel to duel. We live through the sieges, from frontline infantry to generals in command on either side. We see many vehicles from Empire in Black and Gold such as the heliopter, but now we have tank-like armourclads leading the charge. Outside of the air and land battles, we are introduced to the naval aspect of warfare in the nameless world Tchaikovsky has created. Submarines, floating armourclads, flagships, you name it. No matter the scene, no matter the vehicle, no matter the person, from the sergeant in the Tarkesh army to the Emperor of the Wasps, we're given a gripping tale of warfare; of kinden fighting for their very existence. The steampunk style of technology continues to dazzle and is deftly described in its application to this war.

The issue from Empire in Black and Gold where Tchaikovsky fumbled with associating so many characters is more or less resolved, and with even more characters added to most of those from the previous novel. The scale of the series is huge, and Adrian tackles it brilliantly. Throughout the first two novels, I've grown attached to Thalric, an Imperial agent who does what he does for his country, regardless of its goals. He reminds me somewhat of Erwin Rommel, who was a Nazi only in name and did not necessarily agree with what he was told to do - he just followed orders.

Anyway, Dragonfly Falling was a fantastic addition to the Shadows of the Apt arc. Just as in the first novel, we're left off with an end that is essentially the calm before the storm. Tchaikovsky has proven himself to be adept at writing endings that aren't the kind of cliffhangers where someone's being held at swordpoint before the text cuts off, but are still compelling enough to make me want more. He only improved from the first novel to the second, and I hope he continues to do so in the third, Blood of the Mantis.
Profile Image for Justin.
79 reviews29 followers
April 23, 2010
Dragonfly Falling is the amazing follow-up to Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Empire in Black and Gold. The story directly follows the events of book 1. The wasps have increased their hold on the lowlands, and the position of our heroes is much more precarious. The empire has begun its assault and the blood is flowing. Tchaikovsky’s battle descriptions are nothing short of epic, bloody, and gritty, with nail-biting sequences that seem to run for pages. Empire in Black and Gold introduced you to the players, and set the overall stage. I struggled a bit with its pacing, but had none of that problem here. Dragonfly Falling is truly when the dung beetle hits the fan.

The characters continue to grow and change in amazing ways. Like Empire in Black and Gold, Dragonfly Falling explores the many facets of the various characters. Who’s good and who’s bad is not always so clear cut, and that’s refreshing. I’ve also come to realize that there are just as many “Insect Kinden” in Tchaikovsky’s world as there are insects. I stopped keeping track of them about a quarter of the way through the book. As nice as it is to have a diverse population in your story, you lose a bit by always having a convenient race to solve various issues. It’s not a device often used in the story, but the potential for abuse is there. I wonder if it will become a little more prominent as the series progresses.

I am so glad Pyr has decided to release the SHADOWS OF THE APT series in the US, as so far it has been incredibly well written and unique. Dragonfly Falling raises the stakes in every way possible, and I’m excited to see how everything progresses in book 3, Blood of the Mantis. Dragonfly Falling does everything right, and I really can’t find many faults. Tchaikovsky’s writing is top notch and seems to be getting even better. In a genre where a lot of ho-hum stuff gets over-hyped, do not let SHADOWS OF THE APT fly under your radar. —Justin

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