Book Review: Notes from the Burning Age - Claire North

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Book cover in flames.

Ven was once a holy man, a keeper of ancient archives. It was his duty to interpret archaic texts, sorting useful knowledge from the heretical ideas of the Burning Age – a time of excess and climate disaster. For in Ven’s world, such material must be closely guarded, so that the ills that led to that cataclysmic era can never be repeated.
But when the revolutionary Brotherhood approaches Ven, pressuring him to translate stolen writings that threaten everything he once held dear, his life will be turned upside down. Torn between friendship and faith, Ven must decide how far he’s willing to go to save this new world, and how much he is willing to lose.

Yet another barnstormer from Claire North. This is a first-rate post-apocalyptic novel. It's obviously Margaret-Atwood-inspired, and wears that proudly on its sleeve.

In part, it is a long and involved spy thriller. But it expertly weaves in a mixture of spiritual fantasy and eco-shock-horror. If you could reboot society - what knowledge would be too dangerous to let into the wild? Can man have mastery over nature without dramatic consequences?

Thankfully, it is less idiosyncratically written than some of her previous books. It occasionally lapses into first-person-present tense which helps keep things interesting.

I found it a little grim and bloody occasionally, but that's my squeamishness. There's a slightly unweildly cast of characters - some with multiple names. It isn't quite Lord of the Rings territory - but you might need to flip back a few pages occasionally to remember who is who.

Overall, it's a great novel. An expert blend of sci-fi and spycraft.

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy - the book is released in July 2021 and is available via the following links:

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