Niccolucio is a devout monk of the Florentine Carthusian order. When the plague known as the Black Death claims the lives of not only most of the villagers near his order, but also all of his brothers. Despite being spared for the time being, Niccolucio can’t help but have doubts surrounding his piety.
Niccolucio is saved from near death by Habidah, an anthropologist from another universe that is suffering from the plague. She is overwhelmed with grief for all the suffering on the worlds. But in breaking the rules of observer neutrality Habidah finds herself and Niccolucio in a galaxy-spanning conspiracy.
In so many ways this book is really two different books. The first portion sets up the severity of the Black Death and the struggle to find something to believe in when in the face of devastation and despair. It is an engrossing beginning that really draws the reader in. Habidah’s arrival and the early mystery surrounding who she is also draws the reader into the story quite well. In this early going I really expected that I had found another five star book.
But all of this early work is set-up – background information on the characters and the worlds. The plot of the book comes after Niccolucio and Habidah get together and the plot actually slows the story down and makes this character study less interesting.
A big part of this is simply that author Tristan Palmgren did such a good job with the early portion of the novel that I didn’t want the story to change. I was enjoying the book and then got a big story shift that I wasn’t prepared for and so I was taken out of my reading comfort. Going in to the next book in the series (because of course there will be a next volume because no one writes just a stand-alone book any more) I’ll have a better understanding of what I’m getting in to (unless Palmgren gives us another complete story shift), which I suspect will make the progress a little easier.
Looking for a good book? Quietus, by Tristan Palmgren is a well-written historical/alternate history fantasy, but be prepared for a big story shift.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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author: Tristan Palmgren
series: The Unity #1
publisher: Angry Robot
paperback, 512 pages