Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Cloud Roads (Books of the Raksura, #1)” as Want to Read:
The Cloud Roads (Books of the Raksura, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Cloud Roads

(The Books of the Raksura #1)

3.97  ·  Rating details ·  8,735 ratings  ·  1,091 reviews
Moon has spent his life hiding what he is — a shape-shifter able to transform himself into a winged creature of flight. An orphan with only vague memories of his own kind, Moon tries to fit in among the tribes of his river valley, with mixed success. Just as Moon is once again cast out by his adopted tribe, he discovers a shape-shifter like himself... someone who seems to ...more
Paperback, 278 pages
Published March 15th 2011 by Night Shade Books (first published March 1st 2011)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Cloud Roads, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
GD very minimal - more romance with implied sex - nothing graphic
Dustin I just go with these fan art renditions, may not match perfectly, but it feels more accurate than most of the cover art.


I just go with these fan art renditions, may not match perfectly, but it feels more accurate than most of the cover art.




Otherwise, I don't have a concentrated summary of their appearance. Martha kind of scatters bits here and there.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.97  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,735 ratings  ·  1,091 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of The Cloud Roads (Books of the Raksura, #1)
N.K. Jemisin
Aug 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fantasy lovers tired of the usual
This book was a total surprise. It didn't really look all that interesting to me based on the jacket copy -- stock story, possible last of his kind looking for a place to belong, etc. But where other stories end (last of his kind finds a place) is pretty much where this story started, nearly ended, then started again. Moon finds his people early in the book, and it's not a happy experience for him. He learns that a) he's a member of an especially coveted subgroup within his people, and b) he is ...more
Em Lost In Books
Sep 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, 4-star, 2010-19
First thing that I noticed about this book was it's cover. It is so beautiful and I had to read what was the story behind this cover. I am glad that I did not let the average rating of 3.96 deter me because the story behind this cover was equally beautiful and mesmerizing.

Moon is an outcast, trying to hide his true identity. He is different and ever since he realized that he was trying to find people like him but failing miserably at his attempt. One day, the people with whom he was living came
Nov 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people looking for an unusual epic fantasy
Tired of the orphan's heroic quest as he ventures into the world to discover himself and claim his birthright? Don't give up yet--Wells has managed a satisfying twist on an old trope by creating species and setting that feel quite alien. Cloud Roads is certainly one of the most original fantasy worlds I've read in months, and the steadfast plot provides familiarity when navigating the strange races of the Three Worlds.

Moon knows he is different; he's been unable to find anyone quite like him si
Mayim de Vries
Sep 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sentient non-humans, belonging issues, and matriarchy.
Just wow.

Whenever I stumble upon books whose authors create original worlds without referring to the ever same mythologies or legends, I grant them additional points at the start. Having read the City of Bones, I know that Ms Wells' worldbuilding is nonpareil and the Raksura Books prove it to be a rule rather than an exception. Granted, the world’s richness and originality are seconded by a tale not so unique. The journey of the main charact
4 stars objectively
5 stars for enjoyment

The audio is superbly read by Christopher Kipiniak, and I enjoyed every moment of this reread.

Now onto the next one because I can never reread just this book. Gotta follow Moon on his journey across the Three Worlds and reread the rest of the trilogy. And then I'll need to take a peak at the short story collections, and before I know it, I'm rereading them too. Then I'm sure I'll be in the mood for the last two books. Might as well complete the whole seri
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
. There are books where shapeshifters take spotlight but not like this. Raksura, flying shapeshifters, feel like unique specie with their own culture, way of reproduction and hierarchy that isn't based on humans. That goes for the rest of the world as well although worldbuilding is done in broad strokes without forming coherent picture. While it lacks big picture it has bunch of small details that add to it. Like Raksura themselves it's alien world that doesn't correlate to ours.

In the age scal
Final rating: 5/5 stars
He spoke the thought that had become increasingly obvious all day long, with every interaction he had had. “I don’t belong here.” (...)
Stone made a derisive noise. “You’re afraid you don’t belong here. There’s a difference.”

This book is the prime example of how to do world building. If there is something exceptionally strong in this book, it's completely alien-high fantasy world building where there are almost no humans barely normal Earth like humans at all. T
May 08, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For those who like fantasy stories well told this is a winner. There are many things that make a good story--characters you care about, convincing dialogue and setting. This world is completely made up of strange, wondrous creatures. The Raksura are part bird, part human and part reptile. I like that their go to expression for surprise or anger is hissing. These are not cuddly, cute fantastical creatures, but they are beautiful, kind, and honourable.

They fight in a mortal battle against the Fel
May 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5000-2020
Martha Wells just fixed herself firmly on my list of favourite authors. Her Murderbot series put her on my list and this new (to me) series confirms it.

She earned five stars straight away for the magnificent world building. Then there was a wonderful magic system. And finally the totally imaginative characters, in particular the Raksura who slightly resemble shape shifting dragons - only slightly though. They are actually much, much better.

The story opens with the main character, Moon, who is li
Milda Page Runner
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Milda by: Mimi
Shelves: favourites, fantasy
If you are tired of epic fantasy full of tropes in used to death medieval setting and want an original immersive world full of magic and wondrous creatures – read this book. The only thing that comes close to relating this experience is watching The Avatar for the first time in 3D. Except it is not only the blue people: there are myriads of intelligent races in various sizes and colours, with horns, with tusks, with manes, scales, wings, tails – you name it. Floating islands, rotating cities, hi ...more
4.5 stars for an absolutely original and fantastic read

Take one orphaned winged shape-shifter in search for a place to belong - a place where he can be loved that he can call home


Moon by Jessica Peffer

One of the most original non-human races I have ever read about: The Raksura

The Raksura by Jessica Peffer

And a deadly enemy: The Fell

The Fell by Jessica Peffer

That the Raksura need to face in bloody aerial battles:

Cover Art by Matthew Stewart

Add in a queen looking for a consort:

Mogsy (MMOGC)
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Finally making good on my promise to go back and read The Books for the Raksura from the beginning, I decided to pick up The Cloud Roads with the SF/F Read-Along group. Up until this point, I had only read one volume of the Raksura short stories as well as The Edge of Worlds which is formally the fourth book of the sequence but can also be read as a jumping-off point for a new era of the series. As such, I started The Clou
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: not-elves and not-dragons on not-Pern, pretty bishonen with wings and spines
The Cloud Roads is a fairly traditional fantasy novel with worldbuilding that at first seems fairly original. It took me until I was about halfway into the book before I realized why it felt derivative. Of course saying a fantasy novel is derivative is not necessarily a bad thing; I think fantasy readers sometimes overrate originality. Very few great fantasy novels are great because their worlds are so unique and different: it's the characters and the sweep of the story that makes them great.

Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
An unusual fantasy with an entirely non-human cast set in a world with a rich history and many intelligent humanoid species.

Moon is living with a group of "groundlings" although he secretly lives another life where he can transform into a reptilian flying form. He's caught and his tribe try to kill him because of his resemblance to another marauding species of fliers called the Fell, but he's rescued at the last minute by one of his own people, the first of them he's seen since childhood. Stone,
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Csi-fi/Fantasy fans
Recommended to Mitticus by: Athena

“Three realms: sea, earth, and sky. Everyone remembers the sea realms, but they’ve forgotten the sky realms. It’s been so many generations since the island peoples fought among themselves. They’re mostly gone now, with no one left to tell the stories.”
Moon wondered if he had been right about the sky-islands all along. “Is that where we’re from?”
His gaze distant, Stone said, “No. We’ve always come from the earth.”

La historia comienza con Moon, viviendo en una comunidad de cazadores/recolectores
Caro the Helmet Lady
Sep 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Caro by: Mimi
First of all, I have to thank Mimi for the rec. Thank you, Mimi! I haven't enjoyed a book that much since I was a teen. I mean of course, I have enjoyed many books of many genres since then, but this feeling of getting sucked into some new unknown world with new rules to learn and discover and understand how it works - this feeling of getting into something fresh and unseen - was genuine and amazing. Martha Wells wasn't lazying around and created this absolutely different world of Three Worlds, ...more
Sad Sunday (If I say it's bad, it's bad)
I didn't DNF it at ~50%. I simply gave up. I gave up.


Rant coming in 3...



I think I am done with Martha. I just don't get the idea why everybody finds her so amazingly special. I really don't feel the vibe at all. The style in TCR is so laconic, so simple. And while sometimes simple sentences and words scream tons of emotions, TCR is just dull. My jaw is rolling on the ground in surprise of how many people truly loves it. There is such an amazing alien world, with outstanding nature and i
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting start to a complex world, with multiple non-human races, two of which are the focus here: the Raksura and the Fell, both of whom are flying shapeshifters. The Raksura live in large, complicated groups and are made up of the Arbora, who run everything (feeding, teaching, etc.) and the Aeriat, who are the warriors, and out of whom the Queens and Consorts come from.
Enter Moon, unbeknownst to him a Raksura, who has been living for years mostly in his groundling form, and trying to
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thrilling, exotic, interesting. A perfect page turner for a pool side vacation. Most outstanding is the world-building with its ecosystem of flying shapeshifters. Also, the main protagonist is very relatable with his sometimes stupid, sometimes willfull, sometimes heroic actions.
It is a wonder in these 1000page Sandersonian days that a novel can be written far shorter. I love that!
4.5* and I think it was far better than her murderbot novella.
I just grabbed the next book in the series.
Olga Godim
Feb 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy-scifi
I was not enamored with this book although I realize that some of the points that caused my dislike might be exactly the same points that attracted other people to this unusual novel.

The story is entertaining, although not very original, and the pacing is okay. Most of the 3 stars go to the story. A young shape-shifter Moon is living with a tribe of hunters, camouflaging as one of them. He’s been an orphan for a long time and he doesn’t know what race he is. He knows he is different but he
Feb 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Martha Wells, you had me at disemboweling claw.

The Cloud Roads is high fantasy and by that I mean NO HUMANS ALLOWED. Instead, there are all kinds of interesting species--those of the air, those of the land and those of the sea but the main character Moon has never met any that are like him. When he was very young, Moon's family was killed and ever since he’s been searching far and wide, hopping between tribes of groundlings, in search of who and what he is. Even more troubling, the closest speci
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is so much about this book that completely enchanted me: a totally original world, filled with species never before seen in any other fantasy book; and a richly depicted, complex, moody, but altogether relatable main character in Moon. I did want the writing itself to sweep me away with the same force that the book’s ideas and imagination did, but there was a bit too much of “this-happened-and-then-this-happened-and-then-these-characters-looked-worried" kind of prose, and not enough that f ...more
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018-read
An excellent fantasy made non-standard by incredibly creative worldbuilding featuring numerous non-human sentient races.

The theme of the outsider seeking a place in the world is neatly told within this context, with a fast pace and lots of bloody hand to hand (or claw to wing) action. I can see why this series has garnered so much praise. Wells is such a strong storyteller I suspect you can't go wrong with anything she writes.

A very strong start to the series, and one I plan to continue.
More reviews can be read @ The Bibliosanctum

TL; DR Review:

 photo Aw Yeah_zpsjfdmjdhy.gif

5 stars. Totally accurate portrayal of my reaction when I finished. This book. Aw yeah! Highly recommended for people looking for something different in the fantasy genre, especially as far as the characters themselves are concerned.

Longer Review:

The Cloud Roads introduces us to Moon, an orphaned shapeshifter who has spent years living among the groundlings (more traditionally humanoid looking races) disguised as one of them. Moon has
Sep 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
I expected to like this more than I did
Allison Hurd
Nov 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy, fem-author
This was fun, a popcorn read with a novel concept. I don't think she hit her stride in this book, but the world is rich for future attempts.

CONTENT WARNING: (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics) (view spoiler)

Things to love:

-The world. So cool. Lots of humanoids, no humans. Races of all sorts of intelligent life just beginning to find each other. Ancient ruins--apparently this world is in more or less
This one caught me right from the first page. It was so nice not to have to work so hard to get into something (I've had a string of those lately). It just carried me right along, and didn't drag at all. Refreshing!

The Cloud Roads is a non-YA high fantasy set in a very alien world. There are no humans - the species that we meet have scales, shells, or wings, and are very colorful. Some live on land, some in the air, and some in the water. There's the feeling of a large and varied world beyond wh
Pauline Ross
Dec 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Many works of fantasy tell epic tales without a single non-human character in them. Most have largely human casts with a sprinkling of non-humans thrown in for effect - a few elves or dwarves or demons. But here we have a world, it seems, with no humans in it at all. The main character, Moon, is a Raksura, a shapeshifter - a humanoid in one form, and a somewhat reptilian winged creature in the other. His family was killed long ago, leaving him to survive amongst the ‘groundlings’, a variety of h ...more
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
I can say with absolute confidence that I’ve never read anything quite like The Cloud Roads. My initial reaction after finishing it was “what a cool book!” and that can largely be attributed to the author’s expansive world-building. I feel like I’m pretty well-read in fantasy and, while authors dazzled me all the time with their interpretations of familiar concepts, I very rarely come across anything that strikes me as truly original. The Cloud Roads oozed with originality, everything from the s ...more
MrsJoseph *grouchy*

I don’t have a lot of experience with Martha Wells – one short story (of the Raksura) and that’s about it. So, I had no real expectations as to how I would enjoy this book.

And I did. By the end of the book, I found The Cloud Roads very, very interesting indeed. The first 100 pages or so didn’t go as smoothly as I’d liked and I found Moon to be shy, skittish, aloof, moody and TSTL.

Yes. I said it. Moon behaves much in the way a TSTL Romance heroine. He had
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking
  • A Memory Called Empire (Teixcalaan #1)
  • Clockwork Boys (Clocktaur War, #1)
  • Paladin's Grace (The Saint of Steel, #1)
  • Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #2)
  • Swordheart
  • Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb, #1)
  • The Wonder Engine (Clocktaur War #2)
  • A Desolation Called Peace (Teixcalaan, #2)
  • Minor Mage
  • A Deadly Education (The Scholomance, #1)
  • Blade Singer
  • The Sword of Stars: Book one of the Knight and Smith Saga
  • Paladin's Strength (The Saint of Steel, #2)
  • The Goblin Emperor (The Goblin Emperor, #1)
  • The Haunting of Tram Car 015 (Dead Djinn, #0.7)
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Martha Wells has been an SF/F writer since her first fantasy novel was published in 1993, and her work includes The Books of the Raksura series, The Death of the Necromancer, the Fall of Ile-Rien trilogy, The Murderbot Diaries series, media tie-ins for Star Wars, Stargate: Atlantis, and Magic: the Gathering, as well as short fiction, YA novels, and non-fiction. She has won a Nebula Award, two Hug ...more

Other books in the series

The Books of the Raksura (5 books)
  • The Serpent Sea (Books of the Raksura, #2)
  • The Siren Depths (Books of the Raksura, #3)
  • The Edge of Worlds (The Books of the Raksura, #4)
  • The Harbors of the Sun (The Books of the Raksura, #5)

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to a new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our...
45 likes · 7 comments
“With rueful resignation, she added, “Stone said I should just take you, fight it out, and get it over with.” That was typical. “He gives me lousy advice, too.” 3 likes
“In a voice soft and deep as night, she said, “Where is he?” Moon’s breath caught in his chest. Leaving, he thought, turning for the door. He would have made it, but Stone was fast even as a groundling, and caught his wrist.” 1 likes
More quotes…