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Nophek Gloss

(The Graven #1)

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  436 ratings  ·  143 reviews
In this dark, dangerous, roller coaster of a debut, a young man sets out on a single-minded quest for revenge across a breathtaking multiverse filled with aliens, mind-bending tech, and ships beyond his wildest imagining. Essa Hanson’s is a bold new voice for the next generation of science fiction readers.

Caiden's planet is destroyed. His family gone. And, his only hope f
Paperback, 448 pages
Published November 17th 2020 by Orbit
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Sunyi Dean There are genderfluid and nonbinary characters, and the MC is written as ace-spec x
Sunyi Dean No, the main character is written as ace spectrum (asexual / aromantic).

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Average rating 3.74  · 
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Sunyi Dean
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fantasy
Caveat: This is not your usual book review; I've included some "behind the scenes" musings for once. If you prefer my usual reviews, this may not be your cup of tea. Okay, caveats out of the way--let's go!

There's a lot of mutual back-scratching (praise my book, and I'll praise your book!) which goes on in publishing, both self and trade. I don't mean this in a derogatory sense, because it comes from a good place: earnest writers genuinely trying to help out other writer buddies.

But I mention it
Nick Borrelli
Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
NOPHEK GLOSS is such a difficult book to categorize. This is a very good thing mind you. Yes it contains some amazing space opera moments, yes it also dabbles in a good amount of hard SF, absolutely does it touch on some classic science fiction elements as well. So there's a lot to digest in the not quite 500 pages of this incredibly entertaining story. But in the end what it ends up being is a book that makes you care about what happens to the main character Caiden and those around him as they ...more
Sep 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of hard sci-fi, identity, glossaries, supercool ships, general badass-ery
‘Author, swordswoman, and falconer. Sound designer for SFF films at Skywalker Sound, with credits in movies such as Doctor Strange and Avengers: Endgame,’ reads Essa Hansen’s Meet the Author page. With such a varied resume, it’s small wonder that her debut novel Nophek Gloss crackles with fresh, diverse creativity. It is hard science fiction at its best, flush with rich themes and sharp innovation.

Hansen tends to keep the book’s descriptions concise, yet it took me twice as long to read as other
Nophek Gloss is the hard to pronounce title if the first volume of a brand new science fiction series. The title refers to a little gem that comes from the skull of a rare animal and powers spaceships. Like the spice in Dune, the gloss is valuable beyond imagination. It's a coming of age novel, although the hero of the story bargains to age six years immediately and kind of gets to skip adolescence. Of course, like with many space operas, he is welcomed into a crew of misfits and there are space ...more
Rachel (TheShadesofOrange)
3.5 Stars
This novel started out incredibly strong with an opening sequence that was brutal and devastating. It is always fantastic to find an author who isn't afraid to write something dark. Beyond the beginning, the story mostly read like a fairly conventional space opera. It followed the major tropes of the subgenre, leaning hard into the idea of found family. 

I loved the diversity among the aliens species. I particularly appreciated the natural inclusion of diversity including gender fluidity
Nov 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: lgbtq
Nophek Gloss is a gritty debut space opera set in a complex world and following a character coming of age while dealing with severe trauma. This is one that's a little challenging to review because I think how much you will like it is really going to depend on taste.

Objectively, I thought the world was incredibly inventive and detailed, with explanations woven throughout the narrative rather than dumped at the beginning. The technology is fascinating. It also includes a diverse cast of characte
Michael Mammay
Jun 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This might be the best debut of 2020. It certainly has my vote in that regard at this point. The sheer imagination in this book is staggering. It reminds me of the most imaginative work of CJ Cherryh in that regard, and if you know me you know that's some seriously high praise. I would read chapters and chapters of just somebody walking through this multiverse describing what they see--it's that amazing. There's so much to like: The complex species and their interplay, the immense and varied env ...more
Holly (The GrimDragon)
3.5 Stars~

"Worst fears and greatest hopes floated by in whispers like windy grass.."

Nophek Gloss is the debut novel from Essa Hansen, who happens to be a sound designer at Skywalker Sound. So rad!

Beginning with a bang, this space opera leads 14-year-old Caiden across a multiverse with some definite Red Rising vibes. It's a revenge story, one with plenty of trauma. There's also strange tech, misfit aliens and an adorable color-changing creature known as a whipkin!

The world is populated by a large
I'm sorry to report this book just didn't work for me. The first part of the book is a bit of a slog, awash with unfamiliar terms and flooded with complex descriptions of new things, people, and places. I was impressed with the variety and abnormality of this strange multiverse, but I struggled to visualize it all. Left adrift, I had trouble paying attention.

Then we have our main character, Caiden. He's a 14-year old ricocheting through life after surviving a horrible, cataclysmic event: a genoc
Thank you to Netgalley and Orbit Books for this ARC.

3-3.5 stars. Caiden and his family and all the other individuals on his settlement are transported to a different planet when the bovine herds they’re caring for all die. The humans are almost immediately slaughtered by ravenous, terrifying creatures. Caiden manages to evade them and ends up hiding in a spaceship that's marooned on the planet. His best friend Leta doesn’t appear to be as lucky, and in addition to his parents, Caiden assumes she
Gautam Bhatia
Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best science fiction gives you that “oceanic feeling” - a sense of vastness and of wonder. Science fiction also affords writers a chance to create and explore worlds richer and more complex than our own, to put flesh on ideas that exist only as shadows in our minds. Essa Hansen’s Nophek Gloss is an accomplished debut that joins the tradition of visionary science fiction, while also telling a personal, coming-of-age story that is visceral and compelling.

Nophek Gloss is set in a multi-species
Ryan Rose
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a fresh take. It plays with some of the greatest tropes in the Epic Fantasy/Space Opera genre in ways I'd never imagined (farmboy hero has never looked like this). The sensory details are beautiful, the characters all rich and uniquely important, and the pacing is on the money. Can't recommend this highly enough. ...more
Liz Barnsley
Dec 12, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nophek Gloss is an absolute masterclass in world building and character voice- from the very first page Essa Hansen weaves an almost cinematic web around the reader, absorbing you into the intelligent narrative and mix of action and emotion.

You need to commit to this one but once you do you’ll be hooked boy’s journey towards revenge in a world that has taken everything from him, the group dynamic of new found friends and a family forming, all wrapped up in an engaging, vibrant an
Nov 16, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got an ARC of this book.

DNF at 40%.

I didn't care about any of the characters and couldn't even tell most of them apart by this point in the book. There were just glimmers that there was something interesting about characters, but I have already spent days trying to care. I was really into the book, until the ship scenes started which was really quickly first four or five chapters. After they started, there were just so many characters thrown in at once that I never got a grip on them. There
Alia Hess
Apr 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Caiden is a kind and protective mechanic boy, living in a world of gentle pastures and grazing bovines. But he gets a suckerpunch to his good-natured heart when his home and family are ripped away from him in the worst imaginable way.

Now he’s angry. Really angry.

Caiden hones his anger like a blade, pressing himself to the whetstone to grind away his inadequacies and naivety until he’s a strong enough weapon to rid the universes of the people responsible for shattering his life. He struggles no
Emma Cathryne
This was an example of a book being the following: high quality, incredible writing, dense and creative world-building, and also---not for me. I cannot fault this book for its quality, however my reviews are also a reflection of my personal feelings and I really struggled with many of the thoroughly dark themes in this book, which is in many ways a nuanced and graphic exploration of a young man's heavy trauma.

However, if the trigger warnings (listed below) aren't something that typically bother

There was something not quite interesting about this story. I think it was the characters. I didn't really like any of them and I could not see myself chunking out any more time with them.
Elizabeth Tabler
Nov 15, 2020 marked it as to-read
Nophek Gloss is a story that pushes the boundlessness of the reader's imagination. It is innovative, harsh, extraordinary, and it is science fiction at its best.

I am not sure how to classify Nophek Gloss as part of the science fiction canon. Is it hard science fiction? Quite possibly. There are elements of logic to the science used in the story. There is also a balance of drama to the narrative; the story is very character-driven, making me lean towards Space Opera. Either way, with hard scienc
Darby Harn
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nophek Gloss is an extraordinary, passionate, and lyrical exploration of how not even a multiverse can fill the void left by grief.

Essa Hansen does a rare thing in science-fiction. She combines a poetic literary style with dazzling technology, strange new worlds, and truly alien creatures and beasts. Starships create universes. The rinds of universes bob into each other in extraordinary scenes that beg for a cinematic adaptation. Even then, it's difficult to imagine anyone ever doing the images
Craig Munro
Sep 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf-not-for-me

The author has an amazing imagination and there is clearly a very enjoyable story to be found in this book, but I’m just not able to get past the many inconsistencies that constantly pull me out of the story.

A few examples from the 20% of the book I read (very mild spoilers):
- A ragtag group of semi-legal scoundrels are willing to accept that a kid owns a super advanced starship because he took refuge in it a few hours before they arrived to fix and pilot it for him (the fact that he someh
Elizabeth Tabler

Nophek Gloss is a story that pushes the boundlessness of the reader's imagination. It is innovative, harsh, extraordinary, and it is science fiction at its best.

I am not sure how to classify Nophek Gloss as part of the science fiction canon. Is it hard science fiction? Quite possibly. There are elements of logic to the science used in the story. There is also a balance of drama to the narrative; the story is very character-driven, making me lean towards Space Opera. Either way, with hard scienc
Julie Thomas
Jan 28, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
What can I say about this book, or rather how can I say it, without giving away too much. When I read a book I usually know little to nothing about it. I like that because then everything that happens is a revelation. It's because of too many times seeing movie previews that basically tell the whole movie in a few minutes. Why bother going to see the movie now? I have the same problem with some reviews that give away too much. There's a fine line reviewers must seek between giving away just enou ...more
D.A. Adam Smith
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Nophek Gloss is one of the most vividly imaginative science fiction books I’ve ever read; from the wild alien technology to the vast array of different xenid species, it has been one hell of a ride – it’s like Mass Effect with some lingering wisps of Red Rising but at the same time something of its own. Pick someone broken, add them into the mix of a found family, give them a dose of vengeance and drop it all into an expansive multiverse littered with the ancient tech of a lost people and you’ve ...more
Jeremy Szal
Jan 22, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I blurbed this book, and at the risk of quoting myself, I called it a "far-flung kaleidoscope of stunning imagination, superb characters, and truly alien aliens. This is space opera firing on all cylinders, and a must read."

Enough said.

I read this book ages ago, but forgot to post a review. Better late than never, right?
Nov 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Nophek Gloss is the first instalment in a science fiction space opera trilogy entitled The Graven, but what makes it different to others series’ is that each book can be read as a stand-alone as the plot wraps up at the end of each instalment. It follows protagonist and slave Caiden, a very young mechanic who dedicates his life to repairing the machines that are used to create food for the animals that generate the gloss of the title, the most valuable substance in the galaxy. However, his plane ...more
Edward Silverman
Sep 02, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Orbit, and #netgalley for an advanced e-copy of the book in return for a fair and honest review. This book is the debut novel by Essa Hansen, who has an absolutely incredible imagination. The book starts off with a fantastic and horrifying adventure sequence where the main character’s world is upended. The story then becomes a lot about the main character’s growth as a person in how he interacts with his newfound pseudo family and the world (and the universes). Yeah you read that right ...more
Wayne Santos
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Nophek Gloss is about a far-flung future where many civilizations have utilized a technology that allows them to travel not just to other worlds, or even other galaxies, but other universes. Caiden is a teenager, living an idyllic existence, completely unaware of the greater cultures around him until his ignorance is ripped away in trauma, bloodshed, and loss and the only thing left to him is a fury he can't control, and a desire for vengeance with no apparent means of resolution.

Nophek Gloss sh
Sep 12, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
DNF at 55%. Really imaginary world building, fun action scenes, but the jarring exposition (sometimes not nearly enough, sometimes too much, a lot of deus ex machina) when combined with the unending (justified) anger of the main character had me stalling out. Interested to see what the author does next with more experience, but this one could have used fewer in-universe words and concepts to make it easier to follow. Instead, anything that wasn’t yet another repetition of “revenge, revenge, I am ...more
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Note: I received this ARC from Orbit, so special thanks to the publisher.

Immaculate world building and complex alien technologies form the backbone of Essa Hansen's debut novel NOPHEK GLOSS, an angst-riddled space opera about one boy's quest for vengeance in the face of genocide. The first chapter blew me away. This is a powerful and compelling tale that establishes Hansen firmly at the scifi table.
Jon Adams
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Outstanding debut.
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