I am personally a huge fan of fantasy books that involve characters with the ability to morph; the magic from going normal to special. An example of this can be seen in the fact last week’s review was based on a Manhwa that created magicians with the power to change into their alternate selves. But most stories and authors that use this form of magic usually go from human to an animal based one. This can be seen as transforming usually into Dragons in the majority.
The Raksura series not only focuses on a uniquely designed species strictly the creation of Martha Wells, but also takes place in a very interesting world with a highly different social structure. The main story is based on a young Raksura that was lost and abandon from his kind, not knowing who or what he is, and simply trying to survive. Martha Wells for the most part seems content with her 3 books following Moon, the protagonist, while currently teasing readers with 2 books of short stories still being released.
In the primary 3 books, you discover a vast and very wild world. Hundreds of different species roam this world separated by simple geography, with few being widespread. There are those of every skin color under the sun, as well as those very primitive, and those industrial. The Raksura are a species of “groundlings” that can transform into a lizard creature. Half of the species become stout and hardy, focusing on hunting, gathering, teaching, childcare, art, building, and the basic needs of the colony. The other half of Raskura transform into tall winged creatures that mainly sleep and eat, while concentrating on the defense of their territory.
Queens run these colonies in a very matriarch, bee-hive, sort of way. Fertile males of the species are seen as pampered, protected, innocent, and sheltered sperm donors. It was a bit of a surprise reading a book that changed the stereotypical sex roles. Along with that, Martha Wells also opens up the door to polyamory and bisexual relationships, where there doesn’t seem to be love so much in the story, but a desire of friendship. It just so happens that friendship with Raksura involves the sharing of pleasure. The only acception to these open relationships is the fertile males, “consorts,” who can be with as many partners as they want, but only with one Queen.
The first book follows Moon as he struggles fitting in with other species while hiding his abilities, as they tend to mimic that of another species called Fell, whom are much like the Borg of Star Trek and highly feared. After learning who and what he really is, Moon then is forced to learn the ways of a society and role he never had to experience, and just can’t completely accept. Having been raised alone, for a consort, Moon has become very independent and adventurist; nothing like how he is suppose to behave. However, the small colony he finds himself with learn to embrace his unusual behavior while they strive simply to survive and relocate their home.
All three books of the Raksura series describe a world that reminds me a lot of what is seen in the Avatar movie; huge trees, tribal species, fight or die mentality. It gives off the vibe of a young planet where a dominate race hasn’t been decided upon; where the world is young and still creating small pockets of vastly different life, and anything and everything can kill you. It’s filled with super huge plants, floating islands, ancient magic, rough technology, minimal government and lots of eating. And though I was enthralled with all three of her books, highly anticipating each one, forfeiting sleep to complete them, her Stories of the Raksura leave the series lacking.
Not being much into short stories, I felt a little ripped off since not only is this book significantly thinner than her other work, or even that it was released ten months late, but because 1 of the 3 stories was free to read on her webpage and written several years prior. On top of that, half of the book was a short story about how the colony was started and so lacked any of the characters of the main trilogy. The first short story in this current release was interesting, but didn’t add anything to the actual story of Moon and showed no progress in him adjusting to the colony, or his station. I can only hope her next short story release isn’t as disappointing, as many readers including myself, felt she left the main books hanging and would really like to see Moon finally having the family he had been trying since book 1.
If you find yourself interested in exploring this new world of interesting creatures, Martha Wells has written and posted many short stories based on her series that can perhaps give you a feel of the books themselves. Forest Boy is published in her most recent print release of the Stories of the Raksura, and takes place as a prequel to the series. Adaptation also is before the main books, but may be seen as a spoiler as it is about a secondary character’s problem that plagues the colony from the very beginning and all throughout. Martha Wells has stopped publishing additional shorts on her webpage, which I find disappointing as she did promised more, but I will support her in the hopes someday she will continue them.