Archipelago was one of the few books in Netgalley’s scifi/fantasy list that appealed. I thank them and the publisher for a chance to review a free copy. It was published in January.


by H R Hawkins

For half a century, the Archipelago has been silent. Alone, out on the galaxy’s rim, an eccentric cluster of planets set out to forge a new society, far from the meddling interference of the great interplanetary leagues. Over decades of isolation, the Archipelago became a mostly forgotten legend. 

Then, out of the blue, they send a message. The leagues are invited to visit. But why? Why now?

Ren Markov is a veteran diplomat for the idealistic Core Planets, where he acts as an agent of subversion, toppling governments and spoiling revolutions. Dispatched on a mission into the Arc, Ren discovers stunning worlds and a radical, ecologically obsessed society that is both compelling and disturbing. But he faces a terrible decision. Should he protect this strange new society, or should he fear it and allow it to be crushed?

Machiavellian plots swirl as the leagues struggle for influence and control. ‘Archipelago’ takes readers on a journey through interstellar politics, revolution, and the diverging ethics of a vast diaspora. Ren is in search of his very identity as he chooses between salvation and annihilation. [goodreads]

My Review

Re-reading the blurb after reading the book makes it take on a whole different light. ‘Overblown’ springs to mind. Let me be kind, though.

Archipelago tells of the struggles of a set of worlds with a different mindset from your average commercial, economics-driven society. After decades of isolation, they think it may be time to ‘come out’, The politics of this are not easy, especially with the political shenanigans the other major players insist on.

The author has a wonderful way with words. The details of their inventive technologies, of the terraformed worlds, the feeling of stepping through a portal into …nothingness. All beautifully presented, inviting the reader to relax and enjoy the journey. Join Ren in conversations and discussions with his hosts about their different ethical backgrounds and their resulting priorities. Watch them bristle at every criticism, and flare up at every historical slight, real or imagined. And all the time the reader is already aware of double dealing, plans already afoot by the other comities to take back Archipelago by force.

I got bored by the interminable discussion. The plot was becoming pretty obvious, and I had not found any of the protagonists worth caring about to see who won out. And this was 44% through. It took so long to get here… I couldn’t face any more. Yes, there may be twists, it may be a parable relevant to Earth societies, but I’m reading for fun, and this one just got me irritated.

Book Review | Archipelago by H R Hawkins
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4 thoughts on “Book Review | Archipelago by H R Hawkins

    • 1 June, 2024 at 2:23 pm

      At this point I read the other reviews. They said the same as me, sometimes less kindly.

  • 1 June, 2024 at 3:52 pm

    An honest review of a book I might have tries. Hugs to you and the boys!

  • 1 June, 2024 at 4:17 pm

    Thanks for an honest review that saves me the trouble! It doesn’t matter how relevant or important the message, if the story is dull, it’s no use.


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