Cloudbound (Bone Universe)
by Fran Wilde
Cover Artist: Tommy Arnold
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765377852
Date: 27 September 2016 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
History, mystery, and mayhem hide beneath the clouds. Very few travel beneath the cloud tops, but strife will send Kirit, Nat, and others to depths not seen in a long time.
The fall of the Spire was just the beginning. Kirit joins the council to improve lives. Nat avoids the council for the same reason. Their paths diverged, but come together again as fledglings go missing. A fall from the sky brings the problems and schemes of others into the open. A war between the towers is a distinct possibility, but war has been seen before.
As in life, many people have their own plans. For a time people work together, then when needs differ, the alliances change and a new path is set. There are constant power shifts for the people of the towers. These shifts leave some out and others on the rise.
Atypically, I want to address the cover art. The cover art is gorgeous. The articulated wings were what the story demanded. I only mention this as the original cover art actually bounced me out of Updraft a few times.
The follow up to Updraft brings a new perspective. This volume is told from the perspective of Nat instead of Kirit. The switch threw me off at first, but this is Nat's story not Kirit's, although Kirit is still an important part of the action. The author, Wilde, told me that the next tale will again shift perspective as it is someone else's tale to tell. Readers should be prepared for the shift.
I enjoyed the trip below the clouds. The exploration of what came before and the hints at what once was were enticing. There is a long history in this world as the people grew to the heights. The nature of the world is partially explained, with a nod to one of the science fiction's legends. A part of me would really love to see an origin story which explains what motivated the people to make the move they made. There is a lot of ground that can be covered even after the current crisis is over.
One of the potentially overlooked aspects of the series is the care that is taken with the science. In fantasy, authors sometimes use handwavium to ignore basic physics, Wilde takes the physics and natural rules into consideration as she spins her tale. Water collection, scarcity, and living at an altitude are just a few examples of the little scientific facts which are included. It is little things like these that make the story much more than a simple fantasy.
As noted above, there is another novel coming in this world in addition to some shorter works which explain some smaller events. I look forward to the continuing adventures both above and below the clouds.