Krista Reviews: Martha Wells—"Cloud Roads"
We follow the story of Moon, a solitary Raksura who has developed into manhood not knowing where he came from or even what type of people he belongs to. He is described as a shifter, one that can change from a flying creature into a walking creature. Orphaned at a young age, he has been moving between groundling camps in which he never fits, and to whom he can never reveal his true self. He lives in constant fear that if a groundling sees him shift into is Raksura form, he will be confused with the enemies of all creatures, the Fell.
One day, a flying creature like himself rescues him from a deathly situation and takes him to a floating island until he can heal. Moon and the rescuer take this time to ask each other questions about where they come from and who they are.
Stone, the Raksura who has rescued him, explains that they live in a place called the Three Worlds. There are several types of creatures living in this world, consisting of groundlings, skylings and sea creatures. Some of them are obviously interchangeable and have the ability to shift into another form. Moon decides that he will travel back with Stone to see people like himself, learn about where he may have come from, and the possibilies that his future holds.
Each step of the way they must be smarter, faster and stronger than the Fell that are taking over the world. The Fell are slowly destroying the other creatures to defy their own devastation. All the creatures in this world are experiencing sickness and low breeding numbers. But the Fell have some advantages the other creatures don’t have, and they have set their eyes on the Raksura to salvage their dire situation.
The writing is very descriptive and, overall, very vivid. There are so many levels and nuances within each type of species that it did take me quite a bit of the book to start to grasp the roles they play in their societies. Both the Fell and the Raksura had different levels of rankings in which some could shift and some couldn’t. But the twist of adding the rare shifters in as well made the book more fantastical and really envelops you in the story. The repetitive descriptions of the people throughout the story helped as well. There is so much adventure, world building and action that–literally before you know it–the story is over and leaves you yearning for more.
By the end of the book you are fighting for the happy ending, you come to understand all of the creatures, their plight and their need to grow in number and survive. How they can work for or against each other and the overall message–that we all need to find a place to belong.
The Cloud Roads by Martha Wells
Published by Night Shade Books, March 15, 2011
Paperback, 300 pages