Elder Race

paperback, 208 pages

Published Nov. 16, 2021 by Tordotcom.


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4 stars (8 reviews)

A junior anthropologist on a distant planet must help the locals he has sworn to study to save a planet from an unbeatable foe.

Lynesse is the lowly Fourth Daughter of the queen, and always getting in the way.

But a demon is terrorizing the land, and now she’s an adult (albeit barely) and although she still gets in the way, she understands that the only way to save her people is to invoke the pact between her family and the Elder sorcerer who has inhabited the local tower for as long as her people have lived here (though none in living memory has approached it).

But Elder Nyr isn’t a sorcerer, and he is forbidden to help, for his knowledge of science tells him the threat cannot possibly be a demon…

3 editions

Started with an interesting premise, ended deeply satisfying

5 stars

She is a fourth daughter of royalty with no hope of advancement in station, determined to invoke the promise of aid given to her ancestor generations ago by a powerful wizard when her mother refuses to engage a demon threatening the kingdom.

He is a long-lived exo-socialogist, sent to observe these people but not interfere. He broke that directive once before, many years ago, and now another of them has shown up at his outpost door...

I've never seen a story play with Clarke's Third Law ("Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.") like this before. Each chapter alternates POV between the two main characters, so it is half science fiction and half fantasy. Sometimes the same events are told both ways. The story is interesting on its own, but told this way it also becomes a lesson on empathy and understanding.

It surprisingly also became a story about …

Technology *is* magic, but it can't solve all your problems

4 stars

Arthur C Clarke famously once wrote that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic", and this story is the living embodiment of that, presenting the idea from both perspectives. I enjoyed how the book regularly switched between those perspectives, showing how conversations were perceived differently by the protagonist who controls the technology and his more primitive, magic-fearing counterpart. The struggle to communicate is one of the themes of the book.

Besides that, this is a book that also tries to deal with the concepts of loneliness and isolation, and the profound depression that can spring from this. I found it interesting that the book depicts a technological solution to these human problems, but one that is deeply flawed.

Overall, I enjoyed the book a lot. It's not action-packed, nor is it full of intrigue or plot twists; it prefers to focus instead on the thoughts and feelings of the …

Review of 'Elder Race' on 'Storygraph'

5 stars

I'm a sucker for science fantasy, and this was a very sweet story. I loved the contrasting viewpoints - Lyn with her adventure, demons and wizards perspective, Nyr with his science and bioengineering, and the linguistic difficulties that enable the disconnect. I appreciated a main character with depression, but still getting to be a hero. 

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4 stars
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5 stars
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3 stars
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rated it

5 stars