Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky is a richly woven tapestry on a future Earth that resembles an alien planet. Inhabited by monsters and mechs, the residents are surrounded by a planet bent on destroying them.
It starts with the main character on his way to prison. There are only two civilized places: the main city and the prison. The creatures attacking the boat on the way to the ‘Island’ were horrifying and fatal. They were as alien as if they came from another planet.
This story was thick with lots of atmosphere and character and layers and ideas. Through the terror of the prison, we learn that life outside the prison isn’t any easier. Once the darkness of the Island has steeped into the psyche, the city is made known. Its inhabitants and culture didn’t seem like freedom either. To me, it seemed like a different type of prison.
In this epic, we’re human to the end with all our flaws. I was constantly searching for what had made our world this way. The characters didn’t know so the reader is left to infer with hints and clues here and there. Which was rather fun.
It’s not a quick read, but it’s a story worth knowing from cover to cover. And if you care to delve into the mirror written in the pages, it’s easy to see our current culture and society. Makes me wonder about the bars of my cage…
The sun is bloated, diseased, dying perhaps. Beneath its baneful light, Shadrapar, last of all cities, harbours fewer than 100,000 human souls. Built on the ruins of countless civilisations, Shadrapar is a museum, a midden, an asylum, a prison on a world that is ever more alien to humanity.
Bearing witness to the desperate struggle for existence between life old and new is Stefan Advani: rebel, outlaw, prisoner, survivor. This is his testament, an account of the journey that took him into the blazing desolation of the western deserts; that transported him east down the river and imprisoned him in the verdant hell of the jungle’s darkest heart; that led him deep into the labyrinths and caverns of the underworld. He will meet with monsters, madman, mutants.
The question is, which one of them will inherit this Earth?