Pure Mindblowing Genius: Inheritors of Power by Juliette Wade

Posted 17th February 2022 by Sia in Crescent Classics, Queer Lit, Reviews, Sci-Fi Reviews / 0 Comments

Inheritors of Power by Juliette Wade
Genres: Queer Protagonists, Sci Fi
Representation: Two ace MCs, gay major secondary character, secondary trans character, secondary nonbinary character, queernorm castes
Published on: 22nd February 2022
ISBN: 0756418011
Goodreads
five-stars

The third book of The Broken Trust continues a deadly battle for power in this sociological sci-fi novel where brother is pitted against brother.

Many years have passed since the Eminence Nekantor and Heir Adon seized power, and life in Pelismara has found a fragile equilibrium under Nekantor’s thumb. Now the Imbati Service Academy suspects that Xinta, Manservant to the Eminence, may have taken control of Nekantor for his own sinister purposes, endangering what peace still remains. Imbati Catín, an Academy prodigy, vows service to Adon, balancing two core purposes — to advance her Master's designs on power, and to determine the full extent of Xinta's influence.

When a trash hauler named Akrabitti Corbinan walks into a place he doesn’t belong, everything falls out of balance. Catín, who is investigating this newly discovered hidden library, immediately arrests Corbinan for trespassing. Nekantor then seizes Corbinan, believing he's a spy who sought to topple the government, and Xinta vanishes him before Catín can determine his intent. What was Corbinan really seeking? What dangerous information does the library contain, that Xinta might seek to control? And what might happen if someone more dangerous finds Corbinan first?

I received this book for free from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Highlights

~it was all a set up!!!
~(for this book. It was all a set up for this book)
~sometimes ‘we’ and ‘I’ are the same
~the best kind of buried treasure is books
~everything you think you know is wrong

:DO NOT COME ANYWHERE NEAR THIS REVIEW UNLESS YOU HAVE FIRST READ THE PREVIOUS BOOKS IN THE SERIES!!!:

I’ve loved this series from the first line of the first book, but I didn’t comprehend the sheer genius of Wade’s storytelling until Inheritors of Power.

Because this book? This is where the story starts.

Think about that for a sec.

(Strap in, it’s gonna be more than a sec.)

Another author would have begun the series with this book. They would have started the story here. And maybe they could have made it work – but they couldn’t have made it brilliant. Because so much of this story – the story Wade’s been waiting to tell us, and good GODS I cannot imagine the willpower and patience it took to wait and write two whole books, books that are completely amazing in their own right, FIRST, before finally getting to write the story she wanted to write! – so much of this story hinges on context. On the histories of the characters, the dynamics between the castes, the political and social divides in Varin society. So much of Inheritors of Power depends on us, not just being invested in these characters and this world, but on knowing them.

Because we know them, Wade doesn’t have to wave a flag at us to make us pay attention to the Important Thing – we’re already gaping at the page. Because we know them, Wade doesn’t have to spell it out for us – we’re already flailing, and shushing the anxious questions from our loved ones who want to know if we’re okay. (WE’RE NOT. THE THING. AND THE OTHER THING. AND THE THING AFTER THAT! WE ARE NOT OKAY. HOW DARE YOU. BUGGER OFF SO WE CAN GET BACK TO OUR BOOK!) Because we know them, Wade doesn’t have to lecture us, or info-dump us, or spell out all the implications of The Things – we’re already pacing the kitchen while ranting about All The Things with many dramatic arm gestures as emphasis!

(By ‘we’ I mean me. Obviously. We is me. I have been pacing the kitchen and ranting with a great deal of arm-gestures and my poor husband has had to sit through it all. He is wonderful and indulges me terribly. Send him good vibes!)

And honestly…just freaking WOW. Because who does that?! Who has the willpower, and the patience, to sit down and write two books to serve as context and background for the story you really want to tell??? Who has the brutal self-honesty to admit, and insist, to yourself that it’s necessary, that starting the series with Inheritors will cost you so much impact and poignancy???

WHO HAS THE GODS-DAMN SKILL TO WRITE TWO BOOKS THAT ARE NOT THE BOOKS YOU WANT TO WRITE…AND MAKE THEM AMAZING ANYWAY?!?!?!

Wade, I doff my cap to you. I really do. I am in awe.

Because it wouldn’t have worked, writing it the normal way, the expected way. If Inheritors of Power were a series opener, instead of book three… It wouldn’t have mattered. Not as much. Not enough. We might have gone ‘omg!’ at The Thing, but we wouldn’t have really felt it, deep down in our guts. I wouldn’t have freaked out at what we learn about the Grobal Trust in this book, if I hadn’t lived through the modern reality of it via two previous books and about 20 fictional years. I wouldn’t have been biting my nails over Xinta’s situation if I didn’t have the the weight of Nekantor’s history on my shoulders too. Breathtaking reveals and WHAT THE FUCK twists and the emotional gut-punches would have instead been… ‘oh, that’s interesting’ or ‘hm, clever bait-and-switch’. I would have raised my eyebrows in polite interest, rather than been SHRIEKING.

Wade has spent years – in real-world time, and decades of fictional-time! – immersing us in this world and these characters…so that we care. And so that we get it, so that we understand the implications and ramifications in ways that, honestly??? I think we understand better than we would understand, or do understand, events in our world!

Do you see?

GENIUS.

Which is all to say… Folx, this is where the story really starts. Everything that’s come before, everything we’ve gone through with these characters and their world, was just setting the scene for us.

(‘Just’. If the scene-setting books were so incredible – which they were, you know that, if you’re here reading this you’ve already read the earlier books and you know – that should give you some kind of frame of reference to imagine how infinitely incredible the first book of the REAL STORY is!)

Enough already, Sia, what about this book?!

I’ve been telling you about this book! Have I not mentioned the gut-punches and the reveals and the twists??? How hard Inheritors hits??? Did I not mention the nail-biting and shrieking and very gesticular pacing???

And the cast! Wade continues to use new POV characters for each book (I wonder now if there’ll be another timeskip between book 3 and book 4, and whether we’ll stay with book 3’s POV characters from now on?) and continues to make us love them – even the ones I wanted to grab hold of and shake.

(CATÍN I AM LOOKING AT YOU.)

Has Wade’s mastery of worldbuilding become any less masterful??? Nope. Has she become less skilled at playing our emotions like freaking violins??? No she has not. Has she perhaps lost her touch at crafting characters we can’t help but imprint on like fluffy baby ducklings???

NOT A CHANCE!

For Inheritors, we have:

Catín, our second-ever Imbati POV character, a prodigy who swears herself to Heir Adon, but goes into the Residence with way too many assumptions that are way too incorrect. Not as smart as she thinks she is, and possibly an unwitting catspaw of the Imbati Academy.

Xinta, our third-ever Imbati POV character. Everything you go in expecting about him will be wrong, and it is wonderful. He needs more hugs.

Meetis, our first-ever Akrabitti POV character who sheds so much light on the culture and plight of the Akrabitti caste. Her past is complicated, and many of the things she takes for granted will have you reeling.

Corbinan, another Akrabitti, who is in the wrong damn place at the wrong damn time and fuck literally everyone who punishes him for it. I want to snatch him up, hide him somewhere comfy where there is lots of chocolate, and hiss at anyone who comes near him.

And these are only the POV characters; Inheritors sticks closely to both Adon and Nekantor, the Heir and Eminence respectively, who have both been POV characters in earlier books; and there are a whole range of fabulous new secondary characters, not least Tagaret and Della’s children; Ameyan, a nonbinary Melumalai with wonderful fashion sense and even better taste in friends; and Sirix, a young message-runner I defy you not to adore. Inheritors lets us follow the characters we’ve come to care about in previous books, while introducing us to a whole range of new ones, once again expanding our view of Varin’s society.

Which. Is about to get turned upside-down.

Inheritors opens with the same message – mandate? mantra? – as the previous books in the series;

VARIN IS A PLACE WHERE HUMANS HAVE ALWAYS LIVED ON AN ALIEN WORLD.

IT IS ALSO YOUR HOME.

I always thought it was intended as a kind of…head’s up to the reader: the book you’re about to read is not set on Earth or even an alternate of Earth; brace yourself. That kind of thing, you know? It’s always excited me, because I have spent my entire life looking for stories with really alien worldbuilding, and loving them when I find them! This little message at the start of the books has always felt like a welcome to me, personally. I’ve smiled every time I see that page, in each book.

Inheritors, though – Inheritors turned it from something exciting to something…creepy. Maybe alarming. Suddenly I can see the 1984 vibes that I didn’t get off it before. Suddenly I’m not so sure it’s true.

I don’t know how to talk about the plot. I never know how to talk about the plot in this series. Inheritors is… The feeling of walking down the stairs in the dark – stairs you’ve known since you were a kid – and finding a step missing. That lurch. That oh, fuck. But it’s also that feeling of – when you discovered what a library was, as a kid. When you discovered the internet. That unfolding in your head, that sense of expanding, of having the whole world at your fingertips. Of seeing pieces come together, and realising there are so many more pieces, and the joy of that, and the awe of that.

So many things we took for granted in this series are not. What we thought we knew, we don’t. The conclusions Wade led us to, or let us believe, were – deliberately, I’m sure – wrong.

This series is a gorgeous, multi-faceted, fractured kaleidoscope, and the thing about kaleidoscopes is that they are not telescopes, even when you hold them up to your eye and point them at the horizon, no matter how bold and beautiful are the sights they show you. Inheritors is also not a telescope, but it’s an astrolabe – we still can’t see where we’re going, but we’re starting to work out where we are, and it is not where we thought we were.

Every book of The Broken Trust outshines the one before it; every book makes me fall more in love with this series, and Inheritors of Power is no exception. Wade’s prose is sharp and gleaming, her worldbuilding exquisitely unique and detailed, and her mind is a masterpiece. She is not going to be one of the Greats; she already is one, and the world needs to be paying attention.

Inheritors of Power releases on the 22nd of Feb; miss it, and you’ll be missing one of the best books of the year.

five-stars

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