The Quantum Thief Trilogy: The Fractal Prince by Hannu Rajaniemi – Book Review [Bane of Kings]

the fractal prince

Bane of Kings reviews the follow up to Hannu Rajaniemi’s superb debut, The Quantum Thief, with the second book in the trilogy, The Fractal Prince, which sees the return of Jean le Flambeur, published by Tor in the US and Gollancz in the UK. 

“An awesome, epic hard-sci-fi follow up to The Quantum Thief makes sure that The Fractal Prince was one of my favourite books of 2012.” ~The Founding Fields

The Fractal Prince was the last book that I finished in 2012, and it was a great year to end my reading on. As The Quantum Thief was one of my favourite novels of 2011, I seized the chance to read a copy of The Fractal Prince and I am grateful for Tor for sending me a copy to review – I just couldn’t put this book down, making it two out of two for Hannu Rajanemi leaving me wondering where he’s going to leave us with the final novel in the trilogy.

This was superb stuff, and if you loved the first book as much as I did, then you’ll find The Fractal Prince to be one of your favourite novels of 2012 as well.

“The good thing is, no one will ever die again. The bad thing is, everyone will want to.”

A physicist receives a mysterious paper. The ideas in it are far, far ahead of current thinking and quite, quite terrifying. In a city of “fast ones,” shadow players, and jinni, two sisters contemplate a revolution.
And on the edges of reality a thief, helped by a sardonic ship, is trying to break into a Schrödinger box for his patron. In the box is his freedom. Or not.

Jean de Flambeur is back. And he’s running out of time.

In Hannu Rajaniemi’s sparkling follow-up to the critically acclaimed international sensation The Quantum Thief, he returns to his awe-inspiring vision of the universe…and we discover what the future held for Earth.

This novel is a direct continuation of The Quantum Thief  utilizing a similar tone to the first novel in the trilogy. The book is among the hardest of the hard sci-fi novels that I’ve read, up there with the likes of Iain M. Banks and Peter F. Hamilton. Whilst The Fractal Prince may not be as long as the Peter F. Hamilton novel that I am currently reading, The Reality Dysfunction, It doesn’t have to be. I loved Rajaniemi’s narrative, prose and setting – and although it’s one of the more weird novels that I’ve read recently, it also happens to be one of the best. SFX describe this book as “Something Strange this way comes,” and I think that just about sums it up. This is certainly not a book or indeed, a series – that you’d give to someone reading their first hard sci-fi novel. For those of you who are at all interested in literary sci-fi however, The Fractal Prince and its predecessor, The Quantum Thief, are for you.

The characters are expanded upon in more detail here – we get see the continuing adventures of thief Jean le Flambeur, the female warrior Mieli and the Banks-esque sentient spaceship  Perhoen. These are our main cast of characters and we get to know them and spend more time with them over the course of the book. The characters develop over the book and we get to see how they react to the different scenario that Rajaniemi has thrown at them this time round, as like before, these characters are the dominating presence in this book, and likely will be in the last book of the trilogy as well.

The premise of the book and it’s wonderful cover (and the fact that it was a sequel to The Quantum Thief) hooked me in and Rajaniemi’s strong prose, confident narrative and good plot kept me there. Whilst a bit more explanation of the physics involved would be helpful as at some points when I was reading this book I was confused as to what was happening, the majority of the book is strong and otherwise brilliant – a truly great way to kick off my 2013 (yes, I almost typed 2012) reviewing, and something that will leave those who enjoyed it eagerly anticipating the conclusion to The Quantum Thief Trilogy.

Verdict: 4.5/5 

The Quantum Thief Trilogy: The Quantum ThiefThe Fractal Prince, TBC 

Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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