Review: Far Removed

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February 21, 2024

Tags: Aliens, Apidecca, CB Lansdell, Far Removed, Review, Science fantasy, Science fiction

The cover of "Far Removed", by CB Lansdell. It shows Prismer, a female knyad, with her hands put forward, a leaf in her palms. Prismer wears a segmented mask and a scarf wrapped around her head, hiding all her features. The mask shows a red aura around the eyeholes. Prismer's hands are clawed. The background is bluish, with what looks like blue smoke rising around and behind Prismer. The title is in the upper middle area, with the O stylized as a pod of sorts, and the author's name is at the bottom. At the very middle, there is the caption "Book 1 in the Apidecca Duology". All the text is in white.

Hello there. I've successfully finished my eighth read of the year, so here's a fresh review of... Far Removed, by CB Lansdell, first book in the Apidecca Duology. A refreshing, exciting sci-fi.

The blurb goes:

On the moon of Knyadrea, the sea yields intelligent life. For a species shaped by tides, change is the only constant.

Little can be hidden in the glare of a spotlight.

Charismatic and innovative, Oklas Sayve has risen to prominence in Apidecca, the moon's capital city. A politician and college director, he has the resources to effect the changes he envisions for the world. But the sovereigns he serves oppose him at every turn and his status cannot protect the low-strata students attending his college. After a young knyad is wrongly linked to insurgent activity, Oklas must find a way to smuggle her out of the city while hiding his involvement from the authorities.

A spark in the dank depths.

Below the grand Assembly Chambers, a knyad in a mask sculpts, grasping for scraps of beauty in her shrinking world. Years ago, Prismer made a costly mistake and now has only her job at the projection booth and a few special interests to fill her days. But it is not her sculptures that draw the attention of a powerful client, and she is soon met with a request to undertake a dangerous mission. Will she answer the call and risk losing the little she has left?

Mysteries surface. A supernatural substance is used in corrupt ways. As identities shift and predicaments are reshuffled, what alliances might be forged?

My review:

I don't even know where to begin with this one. It's good. REALLY good. I don't read sci-fi as much as I read fantasy (though this particular book has fantasy vibes, which I like), but I was quickly captivated by this story. Even though there's a bit of a learning curve, it becomes almost transparent when you allow yourself to focus on the characters and developments, and there are enough to keep the ball rolling.

The visuals were simply stunning, and went really well with the vibe I gleaned from the cover. The author did an excellent job of painting a vivid (and enticing) picture of Apidecca, and I found myself constantly wishing for more illustrations just so I could compare them to the pictures in my head. And, if you know me, you probably noticed I usually don't focus a lot on descriptions (even in my own work, lol).

But even with all that beauty, there is something rotten under the surface. We are gradually introduced to it, and to the quiet oppression going on in the setting, and I particularly liked how casually cruel the regime is. It doesn't keep the bad stuff a secret, but at the same time it doesn't glorify in the violence that happens backstage either. Things are... "normal". And the normal isn't good for everyone (in fact it sucks for many), much like in the real world. Granted, things might look this way because the entirety of the plot is set in the most important city, so I'd love to see more from other places across Knyadrea as well, and maybe more about the other moon too.

We also can't forget the characters! They were another thing that brought this story to life in my eyes. Prismer and Oklas are unique, authentic individuals, and this book succeeded at not having either of them steal the spotlight from the other (a common problem in multi-POV books). They each have their own strengths and moments to shine, and I loved how they grew from complete strangers, each with preconceptions about the other, to something more. I look forward to seeing how they (and the plot) develop in the next installment.

Returning to the genre thing, I guess what gives the book so much of a fantasy vibe is because the technology is a bit similar to our own, with resyn as the blatant outlier, almost magical in nature. The things made with resyncraft in this book are probably why I've seen it being described as having horror elements on top of the sci-fi/fantasy thing, and seeing such a blend of genres done well was a delight.

Far Removed is also a deceptively short book. The first few pages (and a lot of the final ones) contain other extra information, so imagine my surprise when I thought I had another 20 pages to read and realized I had finished. But the glossary helped. Part of the fun I had with this book involved comparing anything and everything alien to what we have on Earth (like Oklas's scrambler, which I totally saw as a motorcycle), and I also had a great deal of fun trying to figure out how the author came up with each new term. Scumbling, in particular, was a word I dwelled on for quite a while.

Aaand I guess I started rambling. Suffice to say, Far Removed was an entertaining reader on multiple levels, and I strongly recommend it to fans of both sci-fi and fantasy (especially if you're into horror elements). An excellent read.

Final rating: Five stars.

You can find CB Lansdell on:


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