The Iron Tactician was a book I bought in a Storybundle collection, as happens a lot with my random scifi selections. I wasn’t sure I was enjoying it at the time, but I seem to be thinking of it more fondly as I start to write this review, which must be a good thing.

And it is, of course, my offering for the A to Z’s I day.

The Iron Tactician (Merlin #3)

by Alistair Reynolds

A brand new stand-alone deep space adventure from Alastair Reynolds, featuring the author’s long-running character Merlin, who has previously appeared in “Merlin’s Gun” (1999), “Hideaway” (2000) and “Minla’s Flowers” (2007).

When Merlin encounters the derelict hulk of an old swallowship drifting in the middle of nowhere, he can’t resist investigating. He soon finds himself involved in a situation that proves far more complex than he ever anticipated. 

The Iron Tactician is the first in a new series of NewCon Press novellas. The series will be issued in sets of four, with each set featuring cover art by the same artist Chris Moore – one piece of artwork divided between the four covers. [goodreads]

iron tactician

My Review

I’ve read other Alastair Reynolds books, and I like his take on the time dilation conundrum. That’s where you don’t age much if you go at the speed of light, but the worlds you leave behind age a lot faster. That’s really the heart of the matter here, and leads to much fun for the author in playing around with the timelines of the characters.

I’m not sure I really like Merlin, the lead role here, and don’t think I’ve read others in his saga. But he’s a good protagonist, since he’s sarky, ambitious, has a conscience, and is reviled by the universe. As it says in the blurb, he investigates a bit of spacejunk and discovers it’s not all it seems. And it has useful secrets, one of which could solve the technical problem on his ship.

This is a really enjoyable story; I’ve not met one like it for either space junk or weird planetary systems. It all feels very plausible, and if there is one twist too many, well, that’s not really a bad thing.

I’m glad I gave it four stars on Goodreads, as my 3.5s tend to waver between 3 and 4. I think I was reading it when I was tired. I suspect I could read it again with more enjoyment.

Book Review | The Iron Tactician #AtoZChallenge2021

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