Welcome to my weekly segment, Waiting on Wednesday, where I look at upcoming books that I am planning to order and review in the next few months and which I think I will really enjoy. Stay tuned to see reviews of these books when I get a copy of them.
For my latest Waiting on Wednesday I will be looking at one of the science fiction releases of 2019 that I am looking forward to, Howling Dark by Christopher Ruocchio, set to be released in July. Ruocchio made a remarkable debut last year with Empire of Silence, the first book in his Sun Eater series, which chronicles the life of the universe’s most infamous hero, Hadrian Marlowe, the man who blew up a sun to stop an alien invasion at the cost four billion human lives. The Sun Eater series is formatted as a written retrospective, told from the perspective of Hadrian, detailing the events that turned him from a prospective scholar to the biggest mass-murderer in the universe.
I was extremely impressed by Empire of Silence last year, and it even made it onto my Top Ten Books of 2018 list. I really enjoyed the captivating and epic space opera adventure that featured within this book and I am very curious to find out what events force the mild-mannered protagonist to cause such destruction and how he will justify his actions. I was also a massive fan of the gigantic and intriguing science fiction universe that Ruocchio crafted in his first book and I am eager to return to it. I have wanted to feature this book in my Waiting on Wednesday series for a while, but I needed to wait for one of the book’s covers to be released. This wait was well worth it, as the cover I found is a spectacular and eye-catching piece of art.
I have found two separate plot summaries for Howling Dark so far, including the Goodreads synopsis and a different synopsis found on the Hachette Australia website:
The second novel of the galaxy-spanning Sun Eater series merges the best of space opera and epic fantasy, as Hadrian Marlowe continues down a path that can only end in fire.
Hadrian Marlowe is lost.
For half a century, he has searched the farther suns for the lost planet of Vorgossos, hoping to find a way to contact the elusive alien Cielcin. He has not succeeded, and for years has wandered among the barbarian Normans as captain of a band of mercenaries.
Determined to make peace and bring an end to nearly four hundred years of war, Hadrian must venture beyond the security of the Sollan Empire and among the Extrasolarians who dwell between the stars. There, he will face not only the aliens he has come to offer peace, but contend with creatures that once were human, with traitors in his midst, and with a meeting that will bring him face to face with no less than the oldest enemy of mankind.
If he succeeds, he will usher in a peace unlike any in recorded history. If he fails…the galaxy will burn.
Hadrian Marlowe may be revered as a hero and despised as a murderer, but there’s only one way to hear his true story: relayed in his own words, in this incredible fusion of space opera and epic fantasy.
It was not his fight.
But he will still be the one to end it.
The galaxy remembers Hadrian Marlow as a hero, who burned every last alien Cielcin from the sky. The man remembers how he tried to save them – to negotiate with them, to learn more of them – and how his attempts were frustrated by his own side and creatures stranger still than any Cielcin he’d encountered thus far.
Defying his orders, at the cost of love, position and power, Hadrian Marlowe’s path might have ended in fire . . . but the road to it was winding, and leads through intrigue, and battle, to war . . .
I find the two contrasting plot synopses to be very interesting, as they focus on different aspects of the overall story. The Goodreads synopsis follows the plot that the end of Empire of Silence sets up, where Hadrian has been recruited by the Sollan Empire on a secret mission to try and communicate with the aliens known as the Cielcin and try and make some sort of peace with them. The Goodreads synopsis hints a lot of captivating story details as well as indicating that Howling Dark will have a widespread and complex plot. I am quite excited by this plot synopsis, as it suggests additional antagonists and problems outside finding a way to communicate with the Cielcins. It also sounds like Ruocchio will be expanding out his universe in a variety of different ways, and I am quite excited to see what it turns into.
The synopsis from Hachette Australia is also interesting, as it provides hints more in touch with the overall series rather than this specific book. I like the constant secrecy about what drove Hadrian to destroy the Cielcin, which is hinted at in plot snippets like this. I also like the line about “how his attempts were frustrated by his own side and creatures stranger still than any Cielcin he’d encountered thus far”. The references to his own side hints at interference from the Chantry, an inquisitorial-type religious organisation controlling the Sollan Empire. This could be a potentially intriguing inclusion to Howling Dark, as the protagonist came into various conflicts with the Chantry on a number of occasions in the first book, and their strict anti-technology religious control of the Sollan Empire was an extremely interesting part of the universe. I wonder if the stranger creatures he mentions are a reference to the former humans mentioned in the Goodreads synopsis or “the oldest enemy of mankind”.
Based on both of these synopses, this story sounds like it will be as epic, compelling and inventive as the first book in this series. I am very excited about Ruocchio’s second book and I am eager to continue the incredible story set out in Empire of Silence. I am already predicting that Howling Dark will make it onto my Top Ten Reads of 2019 and cannot wait until I get my hands on this book.