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Tuesday, June 17, 2014


Author:  Jane Lindskold
Plot Type: Science Fantasy     
Ratings:  Violence3; Sensuality2; Humor—2 
Publisher and Titles:  TOR
          Artemis Awakening (hardback, audio, e-book5/2014; paperback3/2015)  
          Artemis Invaded (hardback, audio, e-book6/2015)

This ongoing post was revised and updated on 7/17/15 to include a review of the second novel, Artemis Invaded. That review appears first, followed by an overview of the world-building and a review of the first novel.

     FAIR WARNING: This review of Artemis Invaded      
     contains SPOILERS for the first novel, Artemis Awakening.     
                       NOVEL 2:  Artemis Invaded                       
     In Artemis Invaded, Jane Lindskold returns to the world of Artemis, a pleasure planet that was lost for millennia, a place that holds secrets that could give mankind back unimaginable powers.

     Still shaken by the events that ended with the Old One’s Sanctum off-limits for the foreseeable future, Griffin, Adara, Terrell, and the puma Sand Shadow set out for the forbidden zone of Maiden’s Tear. There they hope to find another repository of the seegnur’s technology and, with that, the means by which Griffin can contact his orbiting ship.

     But although his Sanctum may be drowned, the Old One has not given up his dreams of being the one who will resurrect—and control—the seegnur’s technology. Along with Adara’s former lover, Julyan, and the mysterious child-psychic, Seamus, the Old One stalks Griffin, Adara, and Terrell, intent that any prize they take will become his own.

     In the midst of this, Adara wrestles with her complex feelings for Griffin and Terrell—and with the consequences of her and Sand Shadow's new bond with the planet Artemis. Focused on his own goals, Griffin is unaware that his arrival on Artemis has created unexpected consequences for those he is coming to hold dear. Unwittingly, he has left a trailand Artemis is about to be invaded.

     As you can assume from the book's title, one important element of the plot focuses on a group of invaders who land on Artemis and cause some major complications for Adara, Griffin, and Terrell, the three protagonists of this series. As the story opens (two weeks after the end of book 1), the trio is unaware of the new threat because they are trying to remain undetected by the general population and are not in contact with people in the towns and villages. They have decided to go to a major restricted area called Maiden's Tear, which contains relics left behind when the seegnurs were all murdered by an unknown enemy 500 years ago. 

     The first half of the book follows the group as they make their way to Maiden's Tear, find some artifacts, and discover one of the seegnurs' hidden facilities. This last event happens about a third of the way into the book, and that's where the plot bogs down a bit as Griffin and Terrell spend a LOT of time trying to figure out the seegnurs' technology and attempting to communicate with a damaged electronic monitor that has access to a wealth of knowledge about the facility. Their dialogues at that point are extremely technological in nature, full of complex concepts that are sometimes difficult to understand.Now that Griffin and Terrell have a nascent telepathic link, they are able to communicate through their dreams. They have become friends, but they are still rivals for Adara's attentions.

     Amongst the chapters dealing with their explorations, Lindskold scatters chapters that give us a peek at the Old One's activities as he develops an elaborate plan to track down Griffin's group and take all the seegnurs' powers for himself. As Griffin explains to his friends, "the Old One Who Is Young does not consider himself evil. He considers himself a scientist, a benefactor who seeks to lift the people of Artemis from the primitive morass into which they have been plunged through no fault of their own He seeks to be their savior." 

     And don't forget those mysterious invaders. When they arrive, we learn their shocking identities and get answers to some questions about Griffin's past.

     With the exception of the slow-paced chapters that focus on the analysis of the seegnurs' technological mysteries, the plot moves along at a fast pace, particularly as it nears the end. Most, but not all, of the conflicts are resolved, so there is plenty to keep the intrepid trio busy in the next novel, not least of which are Adara's unresolved romantic intentions and her extremely complex relationship with Artemis. Artemis has just awakened after a 500-year sleep, and she is having trouble acclimating to her new existence, which is causing Adara some problems. "Artemis has been dead and come to life. How could she not feel afraid that something will make her unalive again? Of course it is possible to feel fear without sensationand who is to say Artemis does not experience sensations of her own?" Adara still has no idea how her relationship with Artemis will develop once Artemis overcomes her fears and the two settle into their interconnected roleswhatever those might be. (Note: At least one question from book one is answered in this novel: Where did that spider warbot come fromthe one that tried to kill Griffin at the beginning of book 1.) 

     Once again, Lindskold masterfully and elegantly maintains her complex and very interesting Artemis mythology. She has created a fresh and inventive world in this series, along with a fascinating cast of primary and supporting characters. Particularly emotional are Adara's scenes with her parents when she learns the true reasons why they sent her off to train with Bruin at such a young age. Adara's scenes with her mother are deeply emotional, and they provide a window into her soul, explaining how she developed such an independent spirit, but still yearns for love and a sense of belonging. 

     One warning: A new character turns out to be a sociopathic sexual pervert, but his perversions are never graphically described. Oddly enough, that makes them even more horrific because we see the emotional effects they have on his victims and must imagine just what he did to cause so much anguish and rage.

     This is definitely not a stand-alone novel because it relies heavily on the events of Artemis AwakeningClick HERE to read the first chapter of Artemis Invaded, which summarizes pertinent details from the first novel and gets Adara, Griffin, and Terrell started on their journey.

     I'm labeling this series as science fantasy because it combines the advanced technology of science fiction with the supernatural elements of fantasy. As Rod Serling described it, "Science fiction makes the implausible possible, while science fantasy makes the impossible plausible." Click HERE to read a discussion of the science fantasy genre. Click HERE to take a look at an annotated bibliography of the top science fantasy books.

     Here's the publisher's blurb that describes the series: "The distant world Artemis is a pleasure planet created out of bare rock by a technologically advanced human empire that provided its richest citizens with a veritable Eden to play in. All tech was concealed and the animals (and the humans brought to live there) were bioengineered to help the guests enjoy their stay…but there was always the possibility of danger so that visitors could brag that they had 'bested' the environment.

     "The Empire was shattered in a horrific war; centuries later humanity has lost much of the advanced technology and Artemis is a fable told to children. Until young archaeologist Griffin Dane finds intriguing hints that send him on a quest to find the lost world. Stranded on Artemis after crashing his ship, he encounters the Huntress Adara and her psych-linked companion, the puma Sand Shadow. Their journey with her will lead Dane to discover the planet's secrets…and perhaps provide a key to give unimagined power back to mankind."

     It has been several hundred years since the demise of the civilization that created Artemis, whom the inhabitants of Artemis call the seegnur. As the heroine explains, "'Seegnur' is what we call those who came from elsewhere, those the lore tells us made this world and set us to live upon it so that we might serve them." (p. 27) Just before the huge war that nearly destroyed the galaxy, mysterious invaders murdered the galaxy's rival leaders while they were visiting Artemis and then destroyed the technology that powered Artemis. During the intergalactic war that followed, all of the advanced technology of the seegnur was destroyed on every planet. Only on Artemis are there remnants of the technology of the world of the seegnurthe underground ruins, the adapted inhabitants, and (possibly) some still-viable machines. Over the centuries since the war occurred, though, Artemis has become a mytha fable told to children. Few believe that it really exists.

     Ever since the destruction of their technology, the Artemisians have lived in what amounts to an early agricultural society: no electricity or power of any kind, no technology except for primitive pulleys and levers, and no food except what they grow for themselves. The Artemisians live mostly in small, isolated communities with little interaction between them. Most of the mythology of this world is supplied clearly and concisely in the second chapter of Artemis Awakening when Adara explains the lore of Artemis to the newly arrived Griffin.

     The three main characters are Griffin, Adara, and Terrell. Griffin is a normal human who comes from a wealthy family on the planet of Sierraa place with advanced technology. Both Adara and Terrell were born on Artemis and both have bioengineering in their genetic history. As Adara explains, "As time passed, the seegnur realized that merely having people who could serve them in menial tasks was not yet paradise. They desired those who would be wise in the ways of Artemis, specialists who would show the seegnur the secrets of this vast world they had created. So were made the factotums and the pros, the hunters and the divers, and all the other specialists. At this time, too, were shaped the altered beasts, so that not even the seegnur might be able to predict every creature's actions." (p. 29) 

     Now, after generations of cross-breeding, many Artemisians are almost completely human, while others have adaptive natures and are, in fact, called the adaptedEach of the adapted has a specific skill. Adara is one of the adapted, and she is a hunter who is descended from an altered beast. She has catlike characteristics: slitted eyes that can see perfectly in the dark and fingers that can turn into claws. Each hunter has a demiurgean animal with whom they share certain characteristics and with whom they can communicate telepathically, kind of like a witch's familiar. Adara's mentor, Bruin, has a demiurge in the form of a bear named Honeychild. 

     Click HERE to take an online quiz to determine what would be your profession is you were an Artemesian.

                      NOVEL 1:  Artemis Awakening                      
     The story begins as Griffin's shuttle craft crashes into the mountains of Artemis very near where Adara and Sun Shadow are hunting. When the crash causes a massive rock slide, Adara rescues Griffin and takes him back to her village to meet Bruin. Griffin's appearance on Artemis is a shock to Adara and Bruin because no one has visited from off-planet since the seegnur left, centuries ago. With Griffin's spacecraft buried under earth and rocks, he is sure that he will never be able to leave Artemis. Then, Bruin suggests that he go to the port city of Spirit Bay to visit his mentor, The Old One Who Is Young (aka the Old One), who has a deep knowledge of the seegnur and what they left behind. The Old One is several hundred years old, but looks like he is in his mid-twenties, thus his name.

     Adara and Griffin are both good-looking, healthy 20-somethings, and they are almost immediately attracted to one another, but there is a complicationactually there are two complications. First, Adara had her heart broken by her first boyfriend, Julyan, a hunter who bedded her and then dumped her. Second, Adara has a handsome admirer named Terrell. Terrell is not a Hunter; he is a factotum, an adaptive who is trained in history, culture, and folklore so that he can be a guide to the seegnur if or when they return. At first, I was afraid that this was going to turn into one of those boring love triangles, but no, that is not the case. Just keep reading, and you'll see that the relationship among the three blossoms into something very complex and quite interesting. (No…not a three-way! Get your mind out of the gutter.)

     Unfortunately, just as Adara and her group are journeying to Spirit Bay, they learn that the Old One is not the kindly intellectual he seems to be. Apparently, he has started an adaptive breeding program using unwilling participants. The rest of the plot follows Adara, Griffin, and Terrell as they investigate the Old One and his home, the Sanctum, which is the seegnurs' former arrival facility. The Sanctum was the waiting area and processing center for the seegnur when they visited Artemis. 

     Basically, the first half of the book describes Griffin's arrival and his introduction to Artemis, and the second half deals with the nefarious deeds of the Old One and the efforts of the three valiant protagonists to stop him. Along the way, we get to know all of the main characters quite well, both the good guys and the villain. Thankfully, this villain is portrayed in a relatively nuanced manner. Even though he is committing unspeakably evil acts in the name of science, he is not a raving, power-mad lunatic out to take over the world. He's more like a mad scientist who has an insatiable thirst for knowledge and a basic lack of human decency that allows him to rationalize his horrific behavior. 

     The relationship among the intrepid protectors of the planetAdara, Griffin, and Terrellis extremely complex and constantly in flux. Both Griffin and Terrell are historians and have many of the same interests (including Adara), but Griffin sometimes lets himself get carried away by his research at the Old One's Santum because he is desperate to find a way to go home. Of all the characters, Griffin changes the most. When he first sees the Artemisians, he views them as "noble savages," primitive artisans and farmers working the land in their own resourceful way, but he is soon ashamed of his own pompous presumptions when he recognizes the Artemisians' high levels of intelligence and intellectual curiosity.

     Throughout the book, the author has scattered about twenty "Interludes," which look like short poems and read like impressionistic thoughts. The meaning of these "Interludes" gradually becomes apparent. If you can't figure them out, don't worry about it because they are fully explained near the end of the story. Here is the first one (p. 23):

     Darkness. Deadness. Purest cold.

     Heat. Intense, incredible heat. The beginnings of awareness.

     Awareness. Purpose. Purpose displacing darkness. Purpose
     displacing awareness. Awareness becoming purpose.

     This is a terrific opening novel in which the author has done a brilliant job of weaving her complex and creative mythology into a well-constructed, fast-paced plot. She also does excellent work with her character development, particularly with Adara and Griffin. Even the supporting characters are well-defined and multi-dimensional. I'm not usually a big fan of either science fiction or pure fantasy, but this book really kept my interest from beginning to end, and I highly recommend it. Can't wait to see how the relationship among the three friends develops and what the Old One has up his sleeve in the next book. Click HERE and scroll down a bit to read the first chapter of Artemis Awakening, which describes Griffin's crash and his first meeting with Adara and Sun Shadow.

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