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(The Unity #1)

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  295 ratings  ·  60 reviews
A transdimensional anthropologist can't keep herself from interfering with Earth's darkest period of history in this brilliant science fiction debut

Niccolucio, a young Florentine Carthusian monk, leads a devout life until the Black Death kills all of his brothers, leaving him alone and filled with doubt. Habidah, an anthropologist from another universe racked by plague, is
Paperback, 512 pages
Published March 6th 2018 by Angry Robot
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Average rating 3.48  · 
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Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good first contact stories are as much about philosophical interplay as they are about cultural differences. “You have a unique vision”, dimensional traveler Habidah tells 14th century monk Niccolucio, about halfway through Tristan Palmgren’s debut novel, Quietus. She continues, “All of the Abrahamic religions on this world do. Few in the Unity see the body and the mind as separate in the way you do.” Habidah is from the Unity, the largest known planar empire in the multiverse, one that function ...more
Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC!

This book is going to be a difficult one to review because it breaks a lot of normal conventions. The first half of the novel reads like a good outsider/anthropological exploration of our Black Plague from the PoV of a visitor from an alternate universe (the many-concurrent-universes brane). The second half reads like an outright space-opera full of huge ships and a truly immense population across space and branes and a plague that threatens to wipe them all out.
The Captain
Mar 19, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi
Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this sci-fi eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . .

This book appealed to me because it's about anthropologists from another plane doing research on the Black Death.  Their plane is also suffering from a plague and they are hoping the research can save lives back home.  Anthropologists are supposed to stay neutral but one member of the team, Habidah, breaks the rules and rescues a Florentine Carthusian monk named
Feb 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: galley
3.0 out of 5 stars

My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review.

With the assistance of a Carthusian monk, anthropologists from distant planes of the multiverse study the spread of the Black Death on Earth to better understand the plague that is ravaging their home civilization.

Ah yes, the ol’ Carthusian monk meets transdimensional anthropologist story that we’ve all read a thousand times before. But seriously, this is a bold swing from a fr
BAM Endlessly Booked
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Edelweiss #2

Many thanks go to Tristan Palmgren, Angry Robot, and Edelweiss for the free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

Sci-fi book about plagues and time travel in a nutshell. Except the nutshell is the size of a spaceship not a walnut. I'm not going to try to use any of the characters' names because my spellcheck will explode. Just know that one is an Italian monk and the rest are from somewhere else. It's the interaction between the characters that makes the story so engr
Jun 13, 2018 rated it liked it
This was an interesting novel. Part historical fiction with an outsiders view on the Black plague (more so an outsider from another world who just happens to be an outsider). This part is quite good. Loved the philosophical, sociological and historical aspects. I really enjoyed Niccolucio in this part. However, the second part becomes more a space opera sci fi novel, more akin to the front page. This part didnt do as well for me. I felt the sudden change in story just a little weird, and I felt ...more
Quietus is a debut novel that combines historical fiction with science fiction. It has some elements I appreciated, but ultimately, I wasn’t wowed by it.

Habidah, an anthropologist from another dimension, has been sent to our world, during the Black Death’s sweep over Europe. Her own home, a set of alternate realities bound together by an AI-ruled trans-dimensional empire, is being devastated by its own, mysterious plague, and the goal is to learn cooping strategies by studying how Europe reacts
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy of this book for review.

Although I didn't finish the book, I gave it a high rating, which is unusual for me. Here's why:

The book is about a multiverse, part of which is ruled by supposedly benevolent AIs. However, a threat from outside this multiverse has the AIs send humans to research other worlds to see how calamaties have been handled (or not handled, as the case may be).

The researchers that we follow have been tasked to observe the Black Death years
Mar 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book started out really promising and had such a fascinating premise. I loved the idea of a combination historical fiction/sci fi novel. It was slow and dense in parts but initially I was interested enough in the characters and conflict to keep moving through that. I was also successful at holding my nose during the subtle jabs at religion (though I am no Catholic and have massive problems with Catholic doctrine). Then the book lost me around Chapter 30. It became way too esoteric; maybe I ...more
Elaine Aldred
Mar 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is the time when the Black Death swept across Europe, and the population, decimated by its effects and unable to understand the science of how it spread, thought the world was coming to an end.
Into this tumultuous time comes Habidah and her team of scientists, closely observing the population in an effort to find a solution to the onierophage, a similar plague affecting the population of her own world made up of a vast network of political alliances of ruling races.
Although I was aware from t
Rachel Noel
Feb 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
*Free copy for an honest review.

This book does an interesting thing. It manages a tight balance between exposition, philosophy and story that keeps this book interesting. With as long as this book is and with as little action as there is, there was the risk of being boring, but Palmgren does a great job of keeping all the elements in line so that I was still engaged in the reading. I never drifted off or loss interest because all the elements at play were kept balanced. Palmgren also keeps the m
Sep 21, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: scifi, adult-fiction
This was an odd one, lads.

Theoretically, this is about a dimension-hopping team of anthropologists come to study Middle Ages Europe during the Black Plague. That part was great. I love the Black Plague, and this went further than most plague explorations, actually moving beyond the macabre fate of those stricken to touch on societal shifts caused by so much suffering and death. I wish it had done more, but I might be nearing the point where I just need to read nonfiction.

However, this book is A
Peter Baran
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
I've read a few medieval first contact novels, and its often fun to see how the "indistinguishable from magic" idea can soon be normalised by personalities and people. That was that I though Quietus would be, a bunch of extra-planal (we are talking parallel universes though in Universes with significant alienness potentially) anthropologists come to see Black Death Europe to see if they can have any hints on how to psychologically deal with their own plague. That seemed relatively weak sauce for ...more
Renee Babcock
I really wanted to like this more than I did. I loved the premise. But I feel like the cover copy sells this as a different book than it is. I did enjoy the first half of the book, with the anthropologists in Italy, and Niccolucio's story in the monastery. But then it went awry.

I was confused by things that were happening because they were contradictory to what the story said was happening. And that's part of the whole woo woo aspect. At one point the book got seriously woo woo and I almost aban
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very different Science Fiction story. The multiverse theory lives here, which makes my brain hurt to try to understand it, so I don't try. The story is still good. During the Middle Ages time of the Black Death, a group of humans from another 'plane' are sent to Earth to study the plague. They are studying it in hopes to get a handle on the plague they themselves are dealing with throughout "The Unity", which consists of multiple 'planes' run by 'amalgamates' which are AI machines. But there are ...more
Apr 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Kinda unsure how there can be a unity book 2...
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review is based on an ARC given to me for free by the publisher, Angry Robot Books. This does not in any way affect my review. The novel is slated for release on March 6, 2018.

... I think this story is, at its core, a call to action. I think it is quite clear that the world is not in a good place right now, that change is desperately needed if humanity is to continue surviving and living with itself for the rest of its existence. But as long as people continue standing on the sidelines, as
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Begining as an interesting anthropological mission from a different dimention to Black Death Europe, ends on a very different level, with the fate of the multiverse at stake.

Doomsday Book with competent agents and allusion to the gods that plague humanity.

Aug 30, 2018 rated it liked it
Some SF writers are turning from writing about one universe to considering the possibility of the multiverse and there being numerous earths. The first books I read using this as a plot device was the Long Earth series (which I must get back to). That postulated our earth controlling a number of others when inter universe transport became possible. Tristan Palmgren's take on the possibility is very different. Some of the worlds of the multiverse have been bonded together in the Unity, presided o ...more
Well, this is definitely a book I'm having trouble figuring out my feelings about. Possibly because I found the entity revealed to be behind the scenes simultaneously offputting in its goals and perspectives, and in how central it became to the plot once I'd settled into a set of different assumptions about what the main conflict was. I did very much enjoy the setting(s) and overall concept, and Niccolucio and Meloku especially made for engaging POV chapters (Meloku! I was seriously rooting for ...more
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Not great, but readable. I'd recommend The Doomsday Book by Connie Willis instead.

Overall, the writing was too dense and expository. The characters...a little wooden. The world-building was interesting, but only that.

Would I read a sequel? Most likely not.
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi
The plot shifts pretty significantly about halfway through and I rapidly started to lose interest at that point. Gave up entirely around 75% of the way in.
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: books-read
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi-fantasy
This review originally published in < ahref=" For a Good Book. Rated 3.5 of 5

Niccolucio is a devout monk of the Florentine Carthusian order. When the plague known as the Black Death claims the lives of not only most of the villagers near his order, but also all of his brothers. Despite being spared for the time being, Niccolucio can't help but have doubts surrounding his piety.

Niccolucio is saved from near death by Habidah, an anthropologist from another u
Clay Kallam
Oct 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf-fantasy
"Quietus" is an impressive debut, no question, as Tristan Palmgren just keeps diving deeper into his insertion of more advanced anthropological observers into the arrival of the bubonic plague in Europe. A familiar trope -- should those who know more interfere? -- slowly becomes more and more complex, and expectations shift from start to end.

That said, I'd probably give "Quietus" a 3.5 because Palmgren can't quite live up to the setup in his conclusion, there's a logical hole in his premise, and
Michael Bellesiles
Oct 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Now here is a book for our time. This imaginative work of science fiction takes us to the 1340s, when the bubonic plagues swept across the world, killing off an estimated one-third of the population of Europe, as well as perhaps half of China. But ours is not the only earth in the vast multiverse. A confederation of earths under the leadership of advanced artificial intelligence has come to our fourteenth-century world to study how a society survives a crushing plague. We quickly learn [stop her ...more
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, sci-fi
I really enjoyed this book. It is broken down into two parts. The first part is a team of “alien” anthropologists studying 1300’s plague ridden Italy and the story of a Carthusian monk. Meanwhile, on the anthropologists worlds plague is occurring. From there we move into part two which turns into a space opera which brings in other worldly god like beings. These god like beings use the monk and anthropologists for what seems to be their own means. This book shows historical aspects and discusses ...more
This book is bonkers, but interesting. Take Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose and mash it up with, I don't know, a solid and thoughtful science fictional work like Ada Palmer's Too Like the Lightning , only with spaceships and things breaking in space, like Ann Leckie's Ancillary Justice ... and you'll be somewhat near the mark. That is, the first half of this book is a novel of plague and the Black Death, only with some weird observers with futurist technology ... and the second hal ...more
Kevin Groosalugg
May 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I received this book in a giveaway and was really hoping I didn't have to review it poorly. Luckily it delivered. Quietus is hard to pigeonhole, it branches a few genres and goes through several phases.

A very advanced race sends human emissaries to an alternate Earth in another dimension to study how they are coping with the Black Plague. The book is dialogue heavy touching on lots of religion, philosophy, and politics.

I found some of the politics a bit monotonous and I never learned to love an
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