Young Binti is a genius, a daughter of a Namibian tribe that is isolated by choice. When she is invited – first of her people – to take a place at Oomza Uni, the foremost place of learning in the galaxy, she sneaks away to accept it. But she’s about to learn there’s more to be feared in the galaxy than her people’s disapproval…
Ancient Light continues the epic world-building of Golden Witchbreed, giving us a good look at the Southern Continent to explain the fragile balance of power before the action returns to the Hundred Thousand for the devastating final act.
This is great stuff, but ultimately a tough sell and not one for readers seeking happy escapism. I think Ancient Light is a book that needs to be read in the context of the time it was written (the 1980s) to be fully appreciated – while it works on its own terms, the themes gain resonance when you keep corporate greed and the Cold War in mind.
I didn’t mean to read this, but I’m ever so glad I did – it’s an excellent book and a great introduction to Mary Gentle.
Earth has mastered FTL travel, and sent diplomats and xeno-teams all over the galaxy to establish relations with our alien neighbours. Relatively inexperienced Lynne Christie is sent to the enigmatic world of Orthe / Carrick V when the previous envoy dies – in part, she soon realises, because she is expendable.
Review originally published on LiveJournal in March 2008.