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Shards of Earth: The Final Architecture #1    by Adrian Tchaikovsky order for
Shards of Earth
by Adrian Tchaikovsky
Order:  USA  Can
Orbit, 2021 (2021)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Shards of Earth is the first in Adrian Tchaikovsky's Final Architecture series. It's a complicated space opera set in an intricate universe with a variety of alien species. Unstoppable aliens, Architects, have destroyed Earth and a host of other planets (both Colony and alien ones), transforming them into intricately crafted floriform sculptures.

Humans were altered in response to this threat to mankind's survival. Genetic modifications led to creation of Intermediaries. Volunteers underwent horrific conditioning and those who survived gained the ability to communicate telepathically. One of them, Idris Telemmier, succeeded in making contact - and the Architects left. To fight the Architects, the Parthenon's engineered warrior women were also created. One of them, Solace, fought beside Idris and bonded with him.

Forty years later, Colonies and Parthenon are on the brink of war, and it looks like the Architects are back. Solace is called to a meeting with the Harbinger, who warned Earth of the Architects and saved millions. It sends her to find Idris again, one of the seven crew (five human) of the Vulture God. Though they are reluctant to have Solace join them, she proves herself by saving them again and again as they steer through a variety of misadventures.

Various factions - the alien Essiel Hegemony, the Colonies, and Parthenon - all want to use Idris, even more so when the Architects return. Solace is torn between her feelings for him and her duty. Idris finally communicates one-on-one again with an Architect and the Vulture God wins a new and perilous contract.

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