The Swan Riders (Prisoners of Peace book 2)
by Erin Bow
Narrated by Madeleine Maby
Summary from Author’s website:
Greta Stuart had always known her future: die young. She was her country’s crown princess, and also its hostage, destined to be the first casualty in an inevitable war. But when the war came it broke all the rules, and Greta forged a different path.
She is no longer princess. No longer hostage. No longer human. Greta Stuart has become an AI.
If she can survive the transition, Greta will earn a place alongside Talis, the AI who rules the world. Talis is a big believer in peace through superior firepower. But some problems are too personal to obliterate from orbit, and for those there are the Swan Riders: a small band of humans who serve the AIs as part army, part cult.
Now two of the Swan Riders are escorting Talis and Greta across post-apocalyptic Saskatchewan. But Greta’s fate has stirred her nation into open rebellion, and the dry grassland may hide insurgents who want to rescue her – or see her killed. Including Elian, the boy she saved—the boy who wants to change the world, with a knife if necessary. Even the infinitely loyal Swan Riders may not be everything they seem.
Greta’s fate—and the fate of her world—are balanced on the edge of a knife in this smart, sly, electrifying adventure.
I really like this cover. They made a matching one for the first book’s paperback edition, which is so much better than the original cover. I really like the metal swans and scorpions, and their sort of yin yang positioning. The circuitry in the background is a nice touch as well. The blue tones of second covers helps set the mood and tone. It is a quieter book than the first, by which I mean it is less action packed. There is still plenty of action, but not as intense as the first.
This book is so different than the first, even though it is a continuation of Greta’s story. There is a lot more inner dialog which at times is hard to handle. Greta spends a lot of time just trying to survive as an AI as she travels across the wasteland of her country. We meet two new characters, the swan riders she travels with, and get a better understanding of what it means to be a swan rider and an AI. At times Greta struggles to understand just what it meant to be human and how to hold onto that part of herself as she learns to navigate all of her newly enhanced abilities. Talus also goes through a transformation in this book. There are some interludes from Greta’s narration, when we get a glimpse of Talus as a young AI and his interactions with some of the other AI’s that were created. For a long while I was afraid that no other characters from the first book were going to make an appearance in this one. I was glad when Elian finally showed up, as his fate was left hanging at the end of the first book. He also plays a major role in the fates of Talus and Greta.
I was glad to see on the author’s website that there will be more stories set in this world, although not necessarily with these characters. I hope to see more of Elian though, as he has a major life changing event in this one.
The audio book was well done. Madeleine Maby has a very clear voice with emotion when it was needed and very static when it needed to be. This would be a hard book to narrate as the dialogue and the emotions are so stilted and artificial. The artificial tone of the book makes it hard to listen to sometimes, but it fits well with the book’s tone and the characters personalities and with the world that the author has created.