Fourth in the stunning fantasy series The Books of the
Raksura is another world-spanning creation about the
shapeshifting flying lizard people. Moon was a wandering
feral lad with no home, but he has been admitted to the
Indigo Cloud Court of Raksura and become consort to their
queen Jade. Their first clutch of five is happily growing
scales and feathers. But the jungle folks are about to be
visited by outsiders.
THE EDGE OF WORLDS refers to the divide between forest and
sea, where a lizard's sharp claws are useless with no tree
bark to climb, and unknown predators lurk beneath the
water. All the adult Raksura are on edge, expecting an
attack by their distant relatives, the destructive Fell.
But the people who approach them are instead groundlings
they don't really know yet, people who use backpacks to
help them fly. These folks, using a mutual friend Delin,
want information and aid in their quest for an ocean island
with a secret. The Raksura fear that something might be
unleashed if they find the island, but the Fell are looking
for it, too.
In my previous reading about the Raksura I was amazed by
how Martha Wells had envisioned her shapeshifting people
and their forest home. Now she introduces new races,
including one descended from sealings, which we'd call
selkies... two kinds, the deep water and the shallow water,
which can breathe air. To these people, the Raksura are the
exotic strangers. Flying lizards build entire multi-storey
towns, tea plantations and farms in the treescapes, hunting
for food or to kill off predators. With societal strata,
the Aeriat and the Arbora, as well as sterile warriors, and
with physical traits like ruffs, claws on all four feet,
fur, wings, scales, this is a race not always easy to
negotiate with. Oh, and they can use some magic.
Moon is torn between loyalties. His queen Jade is going
with the groundlings in their flying boat. He can go with
her well-armed party, or stay to care for his fledglings.
He chooses Jade. Through Moon's journey we follow the
adventure, with its risks, suspicions, and aerial combat.
THE EDGE OF WORLDS is another addictive read.
Winner of the Nebula and Locus Awards, including a Nebula
for best novella this year, Martha Wells has many books and
short stories to her credit. Her talent lies in making the
non-human feel human and relatable. She also has a real eye
for descriptive touches, so that her worlds are immersive
and tangible. This Texan author has crossed many boundaries
with her works, both sci-fi and fantasy, and is supportive of
other writers. I hope she finds a few more boundaries to
An expedition of groundlings from the Empire of Kish have
traveled through the Three Worlds to the Indigo Cloud court
of the Raksura, shape-shifting creatures of flight that live
in large family groups. The groundlings have found a sealed
ancient city at the edge of the shallow seas, near the deeps
of the impassable Ocean. They believe it to be the last home
of their ancestors and ask for help getting inside. But the
Raksura fear it was built by their own distant ancestors,
the Forerunners, and the last sealed Forerunner city they
encountered was a prison for an unstoppable evil.
Prior to the groundlings’ arrival, the Indigo Cloud court
had been plagued by visions of a disaster that could destroy
all the courts in the Reaches. Now, the court’s mentors
believe the ancient city is connected to the foretold
danger. A small group of warriors, including consort Moon,
an orphan new to the colony and the Raksura’s idea of
family, and sister queen Jade, agree to go with the
groundling expedition to investigate. But the predatory Fell
have found the city too, and in the race to keep the danger
contained, the Raksura may be the ones who inadvertently
The Edge of Worlds, from celebrated fantasy author Martha
Wells, returns to the fascinating world of The Cloud Roads
for the first book in a new series of strange lands, uncanny
beings, dead cities, and ancient danger.