I remember reading The Scorpion Rules and absolutely loving the novel, with is AIs and hostage situation. I had also liked the fact that this novel had been presented as a standalone. So imagine my surprise, when I recently discovered that the author had published a sequel this year! Naturally, that meant I had to reread The Scorpion Rules, which I did as a refresher just a few days ago. Now that I’ve finished The Swan Riders, here is my review:
Greta Stuart has always entertained the possibility of dying young. After all, she is her country’s hostage, and the first casualty in the time of war. But things took an unexpected turn, and now Greta is no longer a princess. In fact, she is no longer human. Greta has become an AI. If Greta survives the transition, she will have a place alongside Talis, the AI who controls the world. While Talis can easily obliterate whole countries and cities from orbit, for his more personal problems, he has an army called the Swan Riders: a band of humans who are loyal to Talis. Now, 2 of the Swan Riders are escorting Talis and Greta across Saskatchewan to a safe place for Greta to transition. But Greta’s fate has stirred her nation into open rebellion against Talis and the AIs, and the grassland that they are travelling through may be hiding insurgents who either want to save her – or kill her.
Like I had mentioned before, I quite liked the idea of The Scorpion Rules as a standalone, so I didn’t really understand the point of this story. However, it was a very interesting read that took the story in a very cool direction. I liked the marked change in character that is seen in Greta from human to AI. I especially enjoyed the glimpses into Talis/Michael and he soon became my favorite character in the whole story. The Swan Riders themselves were a little weird, in their cult-like loyalty towards the AIs but that was the author’s intent so… can’t really say much about that. However, there was something off about the pacing. It wasn’t that there were boring things going on; in fact, I found everything moving quite well. It was more that there was a lot of detail given to everything in the beginning and middle, but not at the end. The ending felt very rushed and I had to read it a few times because I was very confused with what exactly was going on. Eventually, I caught on and the enormity of the situation got to me … but I wish it had been clearer the first time. While I liked this novel, it didn’t do for me what its predecessor did, so I would only recommend this book to die-hard fans of The Scorpion Rules.