Review | Absorption by John Meaney (Gollancz)

Title: Absorption
Author: John Meaney
Publisher: Gollancz
Format: Paperback
Release Date: July 2011

Reviewed by: Andy Venn

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600 years from now on the world of Fulgor Roger Blackstone, son of two Pilots (long-time alien spies, masquerading as ordinary humans) aches to see the mythical Pilot's city of Labyrinth, in the fractal ur-continuum of mu-space.

In 8th century Norseland, a young carl called Wulf kills a man, watched by a mysterious warrior who bears the mark of Loki the Trickster God.

In 1920s Zurich, Gavriela Silberstein enters the long, baroque central hallway of the Eidgenossische Technische Hochschule where Einstein so recently studied.

And on a nameless world, not knowing his human heritage, a silver-skinned youth tries to snatch back an Idea - but it floats away on gentle magnetic currents.

There are others across the ages, all with three things in common: they glimpse shards of darkness moving at the edge of their vision; they hear echoes of a dark, disturbing musical chord; and they will dream of joining a group called the Ragnarok Council.

ABSORPTION is the first novel of RAGNAROK, a new space opera trilogy of high-tech space warfare, unitary intelligences made up of millions of minds, the bizarre physics of dark energy, quantum mechanics and a mindblowing rationale for Norse mythology.
I bought this book for my Kindle on the strength of the cover art. Unfortunately this is a bad habit of mine and has led to me buying some really awful books, but this time I was lucky. I found that the book started very slowly and was wondering if I had done the right thing in buying it, but all of a sudden the story developed into something marvellous. I sat down and read the last 75% in one afternoon. I couldn’t put it down, I had to know what was coming next. What came next was the end, and it was like a car crash. All of a sudden there was no more story. I now have to wait for the next instalment.

The characters are varied, escaping from occupied Europe during the second world war with all the heartache and the fear that accompanied that time. A young Viking warrior developing in skill, and a race of Pilots living in another dimension. The characters have real depth, you feel for them in their losses and triumphs. The story dragged me in so that I was seeing it all unfold in my head. I felt the fear as Roger Blackstone sees the darkness that is spreading in people, sadness as his parents are killed.

Like Quantum Thief, which I read to review, there is a new vocabulary and new ideas but they are introduced slowly and do not affect the story if you do not understand them. You don’t need a dictionary or Google to understand this story. It all flows very easily from the page.

I have a new author to add to the top of my favourites list. John Meaney ranks alongside Peter F Hamilton and Neal Asher. He is an author that I will be keeping an eye on, and when the next instalment of this Ragnarok series comes out I will download it and my Amazon account will take another battering.

Go on. Read it. You know you want to.

About Andy Venn
I'm Andy Venn, aka Giant68 due to being 6'8" tall. I have been reading science fiction for 35 years since picking up the Lensman series. And fantasy since I pinched "Lost Worlds" by Clarke Ashton Smith from my uncle. I read both in, pretty much, equal measures. I write a blog occasionally, containing the whimsical, or bad tempered, meanderings of my mind at Go and have a look, you'll find out all about me, and Lord knows I need the followers! Or email me at

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