Read Blood of the Mantis by Adrian Tchaikovsky Online


Driven by the ghosts of the Darakyon, Achaeos has tracked the stolen Shadow Box to the marsh-town of Jerez, but he has only days before the magical box is lost to him forever....

Title : Blood of the Mantis
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780230704169
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 429 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Blood of the Mantis Reviews

  • Patremagne
    2019-03-05 10:53

    This is easily becoming one of the best series I have ever read.In my reviews of Empire in Black and Gold and Dragonfly Falling, I wrote of how hesitant I was beginning the Shadows of the Apt series. Insects are something that had never really made a presence in fantasy. They’re (mostly) disgusting creatures and the thought of reading a series where the oprhan boy has been replaced by all of these bug-like people was a complete turn-off for me. Like I said, I gave it a shot. I couldn’t be happier that I did, especially after Blood of the Mantis. The series is quickly becoming one of the best I have ever read, sitting right next to the Malazan series. What makes me have even more drive to read Apt rather than Malazan is the fact that the latter books are tomes. They’re huge. Tchaikovsky keeps his books at a more feasible length for the most part.By now, if you’ve read the series at all or my reviews, you know the deal with the different kinden and how they’re all humans with insectoid traits – as well as their Apt and Inapt abilities. The plot from Dragonfly Falling continues, with Achaeos, Tisamon, Tynisa, Thalric, and Gaved tracking the deadly Shadow Box to a remote town in the Wasp Empire called Jerez. Jerez is home to another fantastically unique race, the Skater-kinden. The kinden, like the bugs themselves, have very long limbs and can literally skate across the water. The town is full of these kinden as well as other shady thugs and mercenaries looking to do business in the black market. Nero and Che have traveled all the way to Solarno, a city on the Exalsee that remains free from the grip of the Empire. Solarno distinctly reminded me of Renaissance Italy, with many different factions vying for control over the council that rules the city as well as the way they address eachother, Bella for a woman and Sieur for a man. Stenwold travels to Sarn for the conference he hopes will cement the alliance of the various peoples opposed to the Wasps and Uctebri has his own sinister plans involving the royal family in the capital of the Empire.Read the rest here:

  • Chris Berko
    2019-03-16 12:55

    Let me begin this review with a five minute standing ovation... Okay, wow. That was fantastic. The story remains huge, and I mean really big, but this book felt more personal and intimate. Amazing multiple story lines with tons of hot, wet, dripping imagination stuff running around. I mean seriously, c'mon if you've made it this far in the series you know what I'm talking about. Highly original and boatloads of awesomeness, definitely a series to invest in. You truly get to appreciate the scale of the goings on in this one. Not from big battles and sprawling epic-ness, but more from the political intrigue and the behind the scenes stuff in all the different locations. There is not one character I dislike and not one boring story arc, again rare in my opinion in books with casts this large. In short, read this shit.

  • Kevin Wei
    2019-03-15 10:07

    ORIGINALLY POSTED AT FANTASY LITERATUREWARNING: one spoiler in last paragraphAfter Dragonfly Falling, I was pretty excited for the next instalment in Adrian Tchaikovsky’s SHADOWS OF THE APT series — and Blood of the Mantis didn’t disappoint. In this third book, Tchaikovsky sends Cheerwell and Nero to the city of Solarno, where they meet the fly-kinden pilot Taki as they resist the Wasp Empire’s unquenchable thirst for conquest. Meanwhile, Thalric, Tynisa, Tisamon, and Achaeos are off hunting the Shadow Box in Jerez, a magical artifact of great, dark power. While Justin doesn’t seem to like Blood of the Mantis quite as much, I personally thought it was the best book in the series so far.One of the first things that I noticed was the structure of Blood of the Mantis: it begins in media res, with the first chapter two months ahead of the next few. Tchaikovsky does something similar later on in the novel as well. I know I noted that the structure of book one wasn’t quite to my satisfaction, but what’s changed with Blood of the Mantis is simply that I’m now more familiar with Tchaikovsky’s world and better situated to understand what’s going on plot-wise, whereas this wasn’t quite true in Empire of Black and Gold. As a result, the temporal differences in Blood of the Mantis worked perfectly for me both times because Tchaikovsky is able to create suspense and drama with this technique; there was some excitement to look forward to even as the action slowed a little, and that kept me turning pages.’d like to add here that as Justin noted in his review, Blood of the Mantis has slowed down significantly compared with the earlier books. While I agree with him completely, I’m not sure it’s such a bad thing: the characters combined with some other factors more than make up for a slower book. For me, Blood of the Mantis is all about the characters; Tchaikovsky brings them to the forefront and forces us to confront their existential crises: will Totho return to Collegium or will he cast his lot in with Colonel-Auxilian Drephos and the Wasp Empire? Will Thalric turn traitor once more and betray Stenworld or remain exiled from the Empire? When Tchaikovsky lets us ask these questions, he brings out a level of internal conflict previously almost nonexistent in SHADOWS OF THE APT. By the end of Blood of the Mantis, I felt like I knew all the characters intimately and understood their psychologies. Not only did this character-building add a new level of depth and complexity to the series, it more than made up for the weak subplots and lack of action, which helped Blood of the Mantis form a welcome contrast with its action-packed predecessors.One final aspect of Blood of the Mantis that I enjoyed was Tchaikovsky’s scope. By sending his characters on quests in distant lands, he exposes his readers to new cultures, new insect-kinden, new ways of thinking, and of course, new factions in politics. Having finished book four as of this writing, I can also say Blood of the Mantis does a fantastic job setting up its successor and expanding the scope of the series. Throughout Blood of the Mantis, it’s just fascinating to meet all the new people in Tchaikovsky’s world, so if you’ve read book two — don’t stop there! Perhaps the only thing I’m not sure about yet is what purpose the (view spoiler)[ beetle-kinden under Lake Limnia near Jerez(hide spoiler)] serve. Hopefully we’ll find out in the next few novels. Onward toward book ten we march!

  •  ( A Bald Mage) *Keith*
    2019-02-24 08:53

    “Progress is made by the improvement of people, not the improvement of machines.” The best so far :@)For full review visit our blog at

  • Eric
    2019-03-19 04:54

    3.5 StarsRounding up to 4 stars. Blood of the Mantis was a solid addition to the Shadows of the Apt series that didn’t quite live up to the first 2 books. In some ways it felt like a bridge book setting up future events. The book opens with Stenwold and his allies sorting through the aftermath of the attack on Collegium. There is a reunion between Stenwold and Che but it doesn’t last long as events force our little group apart once again. Achaeos leads a group north to recover the stolen Shadow Box while Che heads south to the Spider city of Solarno, the next battlefield against the Wasps. Meanwhile Stenwold works to consolidate the tentative alliance brought together in defense of Sarn and Collegium and hammer it into something resembling a unified front against the next Wasp offensive. There was a lot to like in this book. The world the author has created continues to grow, with much of the book spent in areas previously unexplored. I particularly enjoyed seeing the Spider city of Solarno, which is the closest look so far into their culture. It also introduced a few interesting new characters. The whole atmosphere of a city on edge, not allied one way or another yet, was fun to read. Seeing Stenwold work to muster support was also enjoyable. I think the author did a good job showing the difficulty of getting very different groups of people to come together, even in the face of an existential threat. There was also an event that illustrated that even their allies aren’t quite as pure as they might like, making the war less simplistic than the good Lowlanders fighting the evil Wasps, which gives the whole conflict some depth. The biggest issue with Blood of the Mantis is that not a lot really happened, especially compared with the nonstop action of Dragonfly Falling. While the author’s writing style of short POV passages that switched frequently kept the pacing moving along, the story itself didn’t advance much. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the plot thread at the Skater town at Jerez. I realized at one point that whenever the story moved to what was happening there I was disappointed as I found the other aspects of the plot more interesting. While Blood of the Mantis was my least favorite book so far in the series, it was still entertaining and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next in the fourth book, Salute the Dark.

  • Daniel
    2019-03-02 10:46

    This is what I'm talking about: move away from the big, empire-sized plans and send your protagonists on small, covert missions to backwater locations that we have yet to visit on the map. This was Tchaikovsky's approach in the first book--which was by far the stronger of the first two--and it serves him well here.Spoiler tags follow, as I touch up material that would ruin it for the unread.(view spoiler)[The mission to retrieve the Shadow Box was great. Tchaikovsky's mix of espionage and the usual fantasy trappings is good, rousing stuff. The good guys have to be smart as well as deadly, and the baddies actually have some brains to go with overwhelming odds and a propensity for cruelty. I actually felt like there were real stakes involved in the story, and I was surprised by how it all played out.I also dug Thalric's ongoing difficulty with his uncertain standing as a former Empire man. As is usually the case, one of the bad guys in the story ends up being one of the characters with the most depth. Happily, Tchaikovsky gives Thalric a lot of narrative space and carries him through some harrowing shit. When he nearly turns on Tisamon and Co. and tries to turn himself in to the local Rekef, I was ready to kick Thalric's shifty arse; and when I realized that Tchaikovsky had pulled a fast one, I was ready to raise a glass to the man. Well played, sir.One complaint: the mystery and sinister foreshadowing that Tchaikovsky wove around the royal court in Capitas takes a back seat in this story, to the extent that this plot line loses most of its momentum and serves more as window dressing than anything else. As I found out later, the resolution to this thread had to wait for the end of the fourth book. Too bad: Tchaikovsky achieved some neat and creepy scenes between the Mosquito dude and the Emperor's sister in the previous book. (hide spoiler)]At some point while reading this, I realized that I was reading a book that has a juvenile mindset in the genre. Yeah, Mr. Tchaikovsky does bring up some mature topics, such as the mechanization of weaponry in early warfare and what it means to bear the deaths of soldiers you send into war; unfortunately, when Mr. T does go into these topics, he leans on "telling" far more than "showing" in his prose--a fact which is telling in and of itself. When it comes to moving the plot along and spinning mysteries about these insect totem-bearing people, Tchaikovsky writes confident prose that reads well, and it is this material that keeps me coming back for the next installment.

  • Jason
    2019-03-11 07:43

    I am not happy that I feel that 3 stars for book 3 might actually be too much. I gave the first 2 books of this ambitious series 5 stars each, and loved every bit of them. This, the 3rd in the series basically stops doing what the other 2 did best, and that is character development. This series is strong because of the amazingly diverse cast of characters, coupled with the thought provoking race that is the insect kinden. I feel that Tchaikovsky focused this book on a few plot twists and action scenes, rather than the amazing characters within. Uctebri is an interesting character that got much more attention and I look forward to more from him. This series really should not be missed by Fantasy lovers. This book however is shorter, and not nearly as good as the first 2.

  • Maggie K
    2019-03-23 12:54

    After reading part 2 of this series, I was hesitant to get into this book, and now that I have finally read it, Im sorry I waited so long!The various principals are all in their places, and the storyline progresses as their progress moves both forward and backward. Fabulous story!

  • Petra Machová
    2019-02-20 08:57

    Tohle bylo něco, fakt jsem se bavila celou dobu. Trojka má sice pomalejší tempo než jednička, zato bere situaci do větší hloubky. Podíváme se do míst mimo mapu Nížin. Hlavní hrdinové jsou znovu rozděleni a tentokrát nebojují přímo proti Vosám, ale musí najít Kostku stínů. Magickou relikvii, kterou Vosy chtějí. Vědoucí nevěří, že magie vůbec existuje a proto jsou snadno ovlivnitelní. Na co magie, když mají stroje a vynálezy, protože válka je čas pokroku.Kdežto Vidoucí zase ani neotevřou zamčené dveře nebo poklop... chudáčci. Jejich magie poněkud slábne. :DSnad mi čtyřka přijde brzy. Potřebuji víc Che a Thalrika, protože se konečně setkají a bude to výbušné (jak by ne, když se z nepřátel na život a na smrt mají stát přátelé... muhaha :D Pavoučice Tynisa je na tom dost špatně ... a Kudlanka Tisamon nějak ztrácí hlavu... Vážky jsou asi kouzelné.

  • Atharva Shah
    2019-03-23 05:41

    Shadows of The Apt Book 3*Blood of the Mantis* by Adrian TchaikovskyChapter Analysis1.A wonderful start with an unexpected beginning. Some secondary new characters are introduced. Taki, saves a Lowlander ship from pirates on which Che is travelling to Solarno, a miniature Spider City. Taki and Che have a good dialogue but Che�s motive to travel to Solarno is not yet revealed. A wonderful beginning. 2.The story shifts two months back as we see the reunion of Salma and Che with the Collegium members. Salma has become responsible and has his own troop. Acheaos plays a major role as he describes the haunting dreams from Darakyon to Stenwold , Tynisa and Tisamon about the Malign Shadow Box stolen by Scyla. Stenwold asks Thalric, Gaved and Tynisa to go on a quest to retrieve the shadow box. A good chapter where the thoughts and emotions of characters are highlighted. The Character Developments are happening at a rapid pace.3.Incredible chapter throughout. Just loved it. The words are framed perfectly and are well-balanced, The story keeps shifting and the scene descriptions are enjoyable. Firstly, the characters of Collegium are discussed about. Teornis, the spiderland representative asks Stenwold to protect Solarnis from the wasps as it is the plaything of the Spiderlands. Stenwold hesitantly sends Che and Nero on this mission. Also Acheos brings up the Shadow Box problem and he, along with Tynisa, Tisamon, Thalric and Gaved board an airship of Jon to get back the Shadow Box and prevent it from falling in the bad hands. During the flight, they are intercepted by Moths, when Acheaos confronts the leader of the Skryers and threatens to use the Shadow Box against them. Achaeos shows signs of darkness, he is regarded as the primary character in the chapter. The chapter connects with its predecessor. Awesome story.4.Chapter dedicated only to Uctebri the Sacrad, General Maxin and Alvdan II from the Empire. Uctebri has been promoted from a slave and his thoughts have become much more vivid. He and Maxin have a competitive and a tensed relation. Maxin�s importance in the Empire is highlighted. Uctebri directly controls the Emperor. His though process is underlined. Alvdan and his concubines are portrayed in excess, their politcal importance too. I don�t understand why Tserinet killed herself in the end?5.A bit dull chapter. Che and Nero arrive at the city of Solarnis and the descriptions are detailed and vivid. Che�s narrative and thoughts are explored in depth. The political and the social issues of Solarnis along with the Governing body are presented in form of articles. Things are starting to turn out different than expected. Che and Nero seem to be without any assistance in their journey.6.Chapter mainly focuses yet again on Acheaos, the seer, Gaved the renegade wasp and Thalric the mantis warrior about their particular troubles and their life. Acheaos is enlightened and contacts Che through dreams. Gaved meets an old friend and informs about the Shadow Box. Thalric is still recovering from Empire�s betrayal. Entire chapter takes place in Jerez. The main story does not move an inch forward but mainly introduces readers to the characters thoughts and emotions.7.Che, Taki and company arrive at Solarnis. The culture and the citizenship of Solarnis is portrayed beautifully and with a hint of euphemism, Che and Nero battle the local gang due to some misunderstandings and Che finds a local stranger willing to help them in the great war.8.Superb, Balkus, the long forgotten character and Destrachis, discuss about Felis Mienn. Stenwold arrives at Sarn and proposes alliance to the Queen but situation changes and the Queen forces Stenwold to submit the snap-bow plans, Salma proposes an alliance by spying and breaking the incoming wasp troops in exchange for the safety of his army. The Queens background is revealed. Felis Mienn and Tisamon's potential relationship is teased. Stenwold has become a puppet in Sarn. Salma has grown courageous. The discussion with thoughts is underlined. Chapter serves as a great side story with major plot developments.9.Balanced Chapter. The Szar Queen has committed suicide. Uctebri conducts a test and takes Seda �beyond�. General Maxin receives news and the internal conflict among the wasp begins. Helleron continues to receive news. I like the first half of the chapter very much. I�d like to see Seda becoming the Queen. High language used. Rekef members are brought in the light. There is a particular format to how the story progresses.10.Could have been more better, but still good enough. Thalric attempts to assist the Empire but is betrayed yet again and gets saved by Tisamon. Tynisa explores the city and is haunted by a shadow. Gaved scenes feel like Movie Extras. The end is surprising. A good chapter with a bit of mystery.11.Chapter dedicated to only one event. A lot of new characters introduced and a completely new storyline added. Empire has sent Major Tegrec as a new governor of Tharn. The Arcanum unanimously decides to contact him and send their representative Xaraea. Slavery, education, war and other aspects are displayed. The book takes an unexpected and a surprising at the most unexpected moment. The story is defined clearly.12.Che is centralized. She educates the Solarnis citizens about the threat of the wasps and how they need to strike an alliance and prepare for the great war. A vast tour also takes place where Che is shown the Solarnis regions as Taki poses as her local guide. 13.Absolute Stunning chapter. A new atmosphere is set in Jerez. Scyla is afraid and desperate to sell the Shadow Box. The imperial agent shave been given importance. Major interrogates the lieutenant about the progress of the Shadow Box retrieval mission. Nivit gets a new customer. Tynisa and Tisamon explore jerez and find a deep interconnected network (nexus) of traders and start their mercenary service for Founder Bellowern who is very mysterious. Storyline overlap. The author has a bad habit of transforming simpler stories into complex and intricate patters, but a enjoyable chapter.�14.Beautifully written. Stenwold worries about revealing his Snap-bow plans to Sarn. The representatives of various Lowlands cities arrive at Sarn. The Queen has an audience with Stenwold There is this new character of Lyrus appointed by the Rekef as an assassin who will definitely play a major role in the coming chapters. I think that this book series is completely different from other fictional universes, its like a stand-out with unique aspects included in it. 15.The end was so good! Che and Taki are attacked by Wasp helicopter in their flight returning to Solarnis. Air combat results in Che and Taki crashing and drifting on a tropical island where they meet an assassin and a maniac called Cestra who angers everybody. Che informs that the Wasps will soon hit Solarnis. A wonderful chapter but the beginning is so very dull and boring. The Cestra character got me hooked.16.Wonderful chapter. Probably the best in the book. A lot of things happen in series and overlap each other. Tisamon and Tynisa defend the Founders place from attackers and unbelievable monsters with the main aim to defend the girl called Sef. She is rescued and brought to Thalric and Gaved who question her and get to know that she came from a different underwater world beneath Lake Limnia in Jerez and she will be hunted by her masters for revealing this particular secret. The future seems to be hanging with an air of mystery. The chapter is filled with solid action. The founders qualities and the tensed atmosphere was practically felt. The second half seems like a mermaid fairy tale. A very oddly entertaining chapter.17.Delightful. The beginning was predictable but the play of words was delivered fantastically. I pity Stenwold and Co. As they suffer a lot for their good deeds and due to a major misunderstanding of the Ants. I felt it coming. I personally felt bad about Sperra�s condition. Stenwold picks up all the bits of courage and builds a tempo. Maxin discovers conspiracy as his army is weakened. The wasps discover that they have internal corruption. A vast chapter,18.Che and Taki have a word with the wasp Aviator, Axrad who attacked them previously. The chief Rekef of Solarnis has a word with Odyssa as the readers get to know about her spider kinden attitude. The second half of the chapter is much more important as it focuses in the internal misunderstanding between the Empire Leaders. Che is much more dull and her role is monotonous compared to previous book. But an entertaining chapter. 19.Never guessed it would e so short. Totho�s condition is bad as he is crushed form both the sides and is guilty about his sins and crimes. He confronts Kzast who confronts him the newly invented weapon by Drephos, even powerful than the Snap-bow and the news that the Empire will soon march onto her homeland. Their relationship is teased yet again. Trust issues are mentioned. A moderate chapter, worth a quick read20.A horde of new characters have been recklessly added to the story in this and the preceding chapters. All of them belong to the Rekef and Empire and are employed at certain post. Gan informs Berdic that he�s facing the opposition of Solarnis citizens and Szar is getting revolutionary. I don�t think it would be nice to add any new characters so soon. The primary plot is forgotten. It also shows how women are empowered. An average read.21.We are back with the primary story taking place and it is totally beyond imagination. Acheaos discovers the pinpointed location of Shadow Box. Scyla is aware of this. Also another mage is trying to hunt this shadow box. Acheaos, Tismaon, Tynisa, Gaved, Thalric arrive at Scyla�s residence and battle with her mercenaries and minions until Acheaos face the powerful mage and Scyla escapes nearly killing both of them. I like the traits of the Renegade mage and his powers. Nice combat and Tactics. The end and the beginning link together. Looking forward to reach the end soon .22.Oh. Things are lighting up with fire now. Odyssa reveals much more about her vice thoughts and ambitions and the personality of Spider Kinden People. I liked Che�s dream sequence, wherein she dreams about Acheaos. Taki, Che and Nero try to escape the city as it is being bombed by the Empire. Lot of Fire and Blood. General Axrad returns and challenges Taki. To tell the truth I�m much more interested in the Shadow Box plot. Aviation sequence was nice.23.An average chapter with things advancing a bit but not much progress in the main story. General Maxin fears his flaws being pointed out. Princess Seda is proud of herself and is seeing herself in a different manner. Much more bold, beautiful and ambitious. She also trusts Uctebri now, who has given her this power. She has word with her assistant. She has a dialogue with a general which binds him to her. Next, we see Drephos who is building up a lot of Snap-bows and receives a letter summoning him to Szar from the Empire. He decides to take all his work there. Plot advances slowly. A lot of technical words and high vocabulary used.24.Wonderful and mazing chapter. A lot things happen in sequence and the primary narrative is pushed forward. Tisamon is mad at himself for thinking about Felis. He and the whole group visit the auction where Thalric recognizes Scyla, who is now disguised. Gaved�s feeling for Sef are unveiled. Nivit, who had planned to trade Sef to her owners helps her escape as he dives into the water and retrieves the drowning Shadow Box to Acheaos which fell during the combat between Thalric and Scyla and where the Wasps intercepted them. We have a lot of action scenes connected together and we see the legendary underwater monsters coming on the group. Different aspects are mixed together. 25.The penultimate chapter was far from what I thought. Stenwold returns to the Collegium and has a discussion of his progress with Teornis and Thadspar. Che and Nero manage to get on the Cleaver and escape with a lot of bloodshed and are helped by Cestra who eliminates all the wasps in their way.. Taki successful, while aviation defeats Axrad. With repairs all the Solarnis characters get back on their and leave for the Collegium. The secondary characters will be eliminated.26.We see that the final chapter changes the story completely. IF it has been anything, it has been surprising. I bet anyone could never suspect what was coming. Brodan returns from the lake and despairs that he couldn�t be successful in his Rekef mission of retrieving the Shadow Box but is confronted by a Mosquito Witch that she will get it back for him. Acheaos, with all his curiosity opens the Shadow Box and temporarily traps the elite team within the Darkyon where they encounter Uctebri, the Sacrad who gives them a hint of his power. The witch possesses Tynisa and tries to kill Acheaos and is successful in teleporting the Shadow Box to Uctebri before being killed by the Lowlanders. Tisamon explains Tynisa about the importance of her sword. Tynisa and Acheaos are guilty of their own mistakes. The Darakyon sequence was just wonderful with the dark and grim tale theme. Brodan finally gets the Shadow Box, thanks to Uctebri witch and prepares to deliver it to the Empire. A wonderful and a surprising end to book 3. Nice Reading!

  • Swuun
    2019-03-13 06:41

    Continuing to enjoy the series. This installment had some interesting developments, and I enjoyed the addition of Taki to the cast.

  • Christina
    2019-03-16 08:06

    In this the third volume in Adrian Tchaikovsky's fantasy series The Shadow of the Apt, we dive even deeper into several sub-stories of the overall storyline. Once again, Stenwold Maker sends his allies, his friends, family and students, out in the world to find out what the wasp Empire is up to.We follow Cheerwell on a mission to the skater city of Solarno to try and tell them what's going on, we follow Stenwold himself on a journey to the ant city of Sarn to try and create a unity against the wasps and we follow Archaeos along with Tisamon and Tynisa travel to Jerez, trying to find the Shadow Box containing the soul of The Darakyon, the former Mantis stronghold.Alongside this, we also get a closer look at the Wasp Emperor's attempt to avoid having to marry and have children and thus create rivals for himself by going along with his mosquito 'slave' Uctebri's plan to give him eternal life - a plan, that involves both the Shadow Box as well as the Emperor's sister, kept around partly so the Emperor always knew where the threat would come from but also for his amusement. But Uctebri is old, wise and sinister and has plans of his own. It is never certain if he is really a slave or not - even to himself - but it is certain that his powers extends far beyond his prison cell.They extend so far as to create a revolution among the bees, the formerly so docile people suddenly rising against the wasps - thereby creating a for Uctebri most needed distraction for the Emperor.But things are not what they seem in this book, we are not given many answers and things are definitely not always what they seem - and this book leaves us with the series' first really cliff hanger.Once agin, Tchaikovsky dives into subjects larger than just this fantasy story of unlikely heroes. He dives into the question of loyalty - even when you have been cast out, you might try to get back in because your loyalty is not gone - exemplified by Thalric's storyline, former wasp officer and Major in the Rekef, now deemed useless because of inner Rekef power struggles. He is part of Stenwold's group, all of a sudden, but will he be able to shake his lifelong loyalty to the Empire?And what about war and power in itself? When is power right? "They put the brand of the Empire on yet another lesser people, and believed only that their ability to do so was all the right they needed." (p. 357). Tchaikovsky has his black and white characters - where in former books, Thalric and Stenwold were the two opposites, Stenwold's opposite now must be the Emperor himself - although so far away as to be fully unknowing about Stenwold's existence. But Stenwold is the ringleader for the Lowlands, the center for the opposition against the wasps. But between these two poles, an area of grey exist where a lot of the rest of the characters in this series are. People switch alliance, they are not always what they seem, and even the good have bad sides. This makes the series seem very real and makes it interesting - alongside the insect kinden which is still fascinating enough to keep my interest - although I wouldn't mind if we didn't meet any new insect kinden in the next book but stuck to the ones we have already met. There's plenty of action to come with the plots hinted at or started so far even if no new players are introduced and it would be nice to get some closures to some of these storylines.Still, the book is really good once again and another solid 4 stars read.Finally, I just want to applaud the artist who are creating the covers for these books. They are truly extra-ordinary and really captures the various insect kinden named in the titles as well as being just very aesthetically pleasing and engaging. They really draw you in and will definitely make many pick up these books when lying in book stores.

  • D.w.
    2019-03-08 10:44

    As many rating this book will note, Tchaikovsky's unique world is suffering. What started well has bogged down. Mr. T has created a General who in turn has trusted his lieutenants to become Generals and thus fragment the story by causing it to loose focus. We had a world realizing that it was about to be conquered by a race that had lied about its friendliness. And so our General was about to rally the forces to resist, when now the tale is all over the place and his trusted aides have gone to various corners of the world to follow different paths. So we devolve into several stories, and those that were very active in the last book are not silent. While others might have a chapter, and main the main storyline is given five or six chapters instead of three quarters of a book with a few glimpses of what occurs elsewhere.The tale then moves a tad, and the character development is further fragmented as we don't know who our POV perspective is to be as well as losing that guidance in some chapters from paragraph to paragraph. That is a further disservice to us as readers.What could have been great, is now ratcheting down to the mediocre as we have to wonder if this tale has an end, and if Mr. Tchaikovsky has plotted it out. A war even should it last a hundred years, has an end. And this tale having lost its way, may never recover. With so much else to choose from, and the series not seeming to end yet, perhaps it is time to move on to another mega series that had greater development then to stay with Tchaikovsky.

  • Elliotwoodward
    2019-03-10 05:08

    This was the first book I have read on my Kindle app, and I would say I enjoyed the experience. I recommend it. On the topic of this book, I have little to say. It keeps(and improves on) the expected character development and world-building that Adrian has showed us in the first two books. This book immediately opens up many new plots, an keeps doing so throughout the book. This can make it harsh reading at times, but Adrian seems to do well with it anyway. He chooses suitable cliffhangers, so to speak, at the end of a chapter which progresses into a different plot. He also introduces many new characters, and kills off characters just as fast. The ending leaves you with a lot of unresolved plots, but I felt pleased anyway. Basically this was a book in the series that is only there to support more books in the series later on. It may not have been as enjoyable as the others but it needed to be there.

  • Ruth
    2019-03-08 07:09

    P2009. Absolutely brilliant. The plot and characters remain strong and I am even getting to like poor old Thalric. I am hoping against hope that Mr Tchaikovsky is not going to be long in writing the next one which I am terrified that I will miss out on for some reason. This really is a well written series of books and I can not recommend highly enough. Sci Fi Now said "A new universe populated by unique characters" which is really an understatement. "Fear is the greatest motivator, fear can make a man fearless, so long as you make him fear you more than he fears any other". Che, Stenwold, Salma, Achaeos, my favourite Tisamon all make an appearance with a number of other capitvating kinden. Just love these books. I can't imagine anyone (well fantasy lovers, anyway) not enjoying these books. Well done, Mr Tchaikovsky.

  • Tadhg
    2019-03-21 07:05

    Wow, did not see THAT coming! I loved it :)

  • S.Speakman
    2019-03-05 12:51

    A fantastic series. This and Game of Thrones have gotten me back into reading after quite a respite from reading. Just brilliant.

  • Reader73
    2019-03-19 12:07

    Very very good, will start on the next part today.

  • Katy
    2019-02-28 09:59

    A very nice addition to the series. This one is full of intrigue and a great cast of characters.

  • Madhurabharatula Pranav Rohit Kasinath
    2019-03-23 07:50

    This is a review of the entire series - there are NO spoilers. When I look back at the Shadows of the Apt, what strikes me at first might seem incongruous to most.There are no unnecessary descriptions of food. None at all. 10 books, each of them 400 to 700 pages in length - covering battles, history and multiple points of view - and not a single one of them had any descriptions of food.Or sex, clothing, family crests, whores or incest. And I loved it. Not a single wasted line. There may be many reasons why the Shadows of the Apt is a success, why you SHOULD read these books no matter how difficult it may get at times. If I had to choose one, however, its this - Tchaikovsky doesn't waste a single page, character or event in his storytelling - the march of story is relentless through thousands of pages, culminating in a satisfying finale. The World in which the Shadows of the Apt (SOTA) is set is astonishing in its originality. There are no elves, trolls, orcs or dwarves - instead, Tchaikovsky populates this world with Insect Kinden - human beings of different races who derive their primary characteristics from insects. Beetle kinden are slow, plodding, hardworking and intelligent with a flair for statesmanship. The Ant Kinden are warlike and live in each other's heads, attempting to work towards the betterment of the Ant city - a frightening and at the same time amusing allegory for communism. The Mantis Kinden live in the woods, are excellent fighters and are generally rooted in arcane magic and rituals - individualists who are dying out due to adherence to traditions which have lost all meaning. There are Spiders, Moths, Thorn Bugs and Flies each with their own definite characteristics that would require an encyclopedia to cover in entirety. At someone's last count there were close to thirty distinct kinden introduced in the series and I belive that must just be scratching the surface.Another important differentiating factor amongst the people of this world is Aptitude. The Apt are those who are skilled in the art of artifice, and mechanics. They are scientists, using the laws of nature to change the world around them. Crossbows, artillery and even primitive air power all based on the principles of clockwork make their appearance in the early pages of the series. On the other end of the spectrum however, are the Inapt - the erstwhile rulers of the world to whom the apt were but slaves until a long ago revolution altered the power structure forever. The Inapt live in a world of magic, intuition and prophecy - incapable of so much as unlatching a door, their minds unable to comprehend the machine world in form or function.This status quo is under threat from the Wasp Kinden of the north - a ferocious warlike race which has come into its own and seeks to conquer the world. While this might sound like a cliche far too common to all fantasy fiction there is an important difference - the Wasps aren't inherently evil. The initial stand off is more one of culture and ideology than of good and evil. Two of my favourite characters are, in fact, Wasps. The only people who are aware of the threat the Wasps pose to the world are the beetle Stenwold Maker, a master in Collegium and his Mantis friend Tisamon. As the series begins Stenwold sends his niece Che, his adopted daughter Tynisa, a spider and his halfbreed student Totho and the dragonfly prince Salme Dien to the factory city of Helleron for espionage against the Wasp empire. Having turned its eyes towards the university city of Collegium, a beacon of enlightenment and artifice in the Lowlands, the Wasps are determined to stop Stenwold Maker at any cost.Anymore would give away the joy of experiencing the plot for yourself. Rest assured, things get complicated very quickly, alliances shift and change, people die and before you know you might find yourself rooting for a villain. Over ten books we are treated to multiple detailed accounts of various battles, war movements and deaths. The narrative moves effortlessly between personal accounts of war and one on one battles. There is a very real sense of forward progression in the book with characters always changing, finding their ideals and comfort zone being challenged on a regular basis and reacting to the world in new ways. These interactions might not always be pleasant and not everyone might walk away from them alive - however, it is wonderful to see such attention to character progression. No one walks out of this book unscathed or unchanged. Some change for the better, some for the worse - but all changes seem normal, organic and make sense. This series capitalises on this characterisation to make things all the more gripping.SOTA cannot be labelled as grimdark fantasy either. There is war, death, murder, rape and cruelty. There are slave camps, dying civilisations and loss. A large chunk of characters are dead towards the end of the book. However, there is a resilience to all the characters that makes it possible to believe they will eventually find a way out. It might be because the author is British but all the characters have a stoic, stiff upper lip approach to situations which makes even the darkest segments of the book immensely enjoyable. The dialogue is witty, snappy and fluid - more importantly, it's distinctive in a sense and tailor made to each character. Atrocities, when they are committed are mentioned but not described in detail. This seems to be a more effective method of conveying the horrors of war. I have seen fantasy where rape and murder are described to a distasteful degree under the excuse of realism. Tchaikovsky actually doesn't indulge in voyeurism which significantly increased the emotional impact when bad things eventually DID happen. (Basically books 4 and 10)A standard fantasy talks about heroism in the face of darkness with a well demarcated line between good and evil. SOTA takes a different tack. While set in a fictional world the themes are often all too relevant. The novels are given over to varied themes - whether duty to oneself comes over and above duty to the city state, are we willing to enslave others so that we may be free, the struggle between the old world and new, between science and superstition. There are also deeper questions about the creation of weapons of war and deterrents- does an inventor take pride in a weapon that has been created solely for killing, and if he is horrified what mental toll does this take? The stark contrast between killing a person yourself and ordering the deaths of hundreds in a mechanised attack is also touched upon. The question asked of a lot of the artificers in this series is whether they feel war has allowed them progress and innovation and whether, coming on the heel of the human cost, this innovation is worth it. A lot of the characters might answer yes. The beauty in Tchaikovsky's characters lies in how easy it is to understand if not exactly sympathise this point of view.Over the course of the series, we are also treated to innovation and how it can change the face of war. Ranged weapons are deployed against an unarmed infantry, submersibles are invented out of necessity and there is an entire book devoted to an Air War that brings to mind the Battle of Britain and the RAF during World War II. This mechanical progress is a plot point which drives the book forward. The enemy improvising and modifying weapons while the defenders need to think on their feet to win the war and vice versa.The only criticism I might want to level against this series is that it seems a little too dry at times.Tchaikovsky's prose is fluid, and wonderful on page. However, at times, it fails to convey the images necessary to visualise the world around. I am an extremely visual reader, by which I mean that I enjoy building the environment around me. Tchaikovsky was adequate to this task but I wanted more. However, I choose not to reduce any points for this - This is Tchaikovsky's first work. A ten volume series which serves as a nuanced account of the wages of war in a fantasy world. It is rare for anyone to get something THIS RIGHT on the first round and I am sure he will only get better as he continues to write more.The SOTA is unlike any fantasy I have read in a long long time - nuanced, with wonderful characterisation, multiple plot threads and points of view and absolutely no narrative drag. It begins, builds to a crescendo and ends almost perfectly. I don't recommend this to just lovers of fantasy but to all lovers of good literature. Don't turn your nose down on this, you won't be disappointed.

  • Adam Whitehead
    2019-03-20 09:49

    With the Wasp armies' advance stalled by the arrival of winter, Stenwold Maker takes advantage in the lull to send his agents on dangerous missions. Achaeos, Tisamon and Tynisa are dispatched to Jerez, a marsh-town on the edges of the Empire, in pursuit of the stolen Shadow Box, which holds an evil that cannot be unleashed back onto the world. Elsewhere, Che and Nero are sent to Solarno, a city on the distant Exalsee, which is also under threat from the Empire's expansion. However, the feuding political factions of Solarno seem rather unmoved by the threat they face.Blood of the Mantis is the third volume in the Shadows of the Apt sequence and the penultimate book in the opening story arc. In this novel, Tchaikovsky abandons the large-scale war stories and huge battles of Dragonfly Falling to return to the back-alley intrigue and politicking of the first novel in the series. He also reigns in the book's length, delivering a relatively slim 400-page novel that certainly benefits from a greater focus following three storylines in tandem: events in Jerez, the intrigue in Solarno and Stenwold's attempts to forge the Wasps' myriad enemies into a single, cohesive force. This growing focus means some characters get short shrift - Totho and Salma's storylines are put on the backburner for now - but those characters who are featured benefit from more page-time and development.Tchaikovsky also (for the first of at least two times in the series) widens the scope of the worldbuilding, introducing a whole new area of the world (the Exalsee or Sea of Exiles and its surrounding city-states) and establishing a whole new set of characters and politics. This is achieved reasonably well, although the Exalsee cities aren't vastly different from the established Lowlands locations and the blindness of Solarno's rulers to the Wasp threat is perhaps a little too reminiscent of Collegium's similar scepticism in Empire in Black and Gold. That said, some of the new characters, such as Taki the pilot and Cesta the assassin, are well-drawn and welcome additions to the (already very large) cast.The book is certainly enjoyable and page-turning, with the weird and steampunk elements raising what would otherwise be a pretty standard epic fantasy to some interesting new heights, but the Shadow Box is a disappointingly traditional 'evil magical talisman of doom' and it's hard to invest too much in that storyline, especially as Jerez is not a particularly interesting locale (though some late developments near the end of the book may cause some reappraisal of that). Another weakness is that Thalric has, extremely reluctantly, become an ally of the good guys and immediately lost some of the elements that made him more interesting in the first novel. Stenwold's attempts to merge disparate allies into a cohesive alliance against the Wasps is also rather over-familiar and perhaps too easily achieved given the daunting difficulties he faces.Blood of the Mantis (***½) continues to develop this enjoyable series and benefits from a shift in focus away from the battle-heavy second volume. However, some weaknesses mean that it continues to fail to fully achieve its potential.

  • Dion
    2019-03-08 11:52

    Another corking book from Adrian Tchaikovsky. I wish I had the freedom to plough through Shadows of the Apt one after the other, as it is all effectively one epic story, but my teetering BookStack still threatens to crush me with guilt. And the sheer weight of the books, obvs.On its own, Blood of the Mantis is a pea and cup game, a Maltese Falcon if you like, wherein it seems all of the Kinden (humanoid races with insect-like abilities) seek the Shadow Box - an ancient weapon of vastly destructive magical power. It's a diverting read with plenty of interesting characters to follow, each the hero of their own stories, yet often set against each other in pursuit of their own needs. (My personal favourite was Taki, the aviatrix, whirling through the skies in her little fighter plane, the Esca Volante. She's a sparky character who leaps right off the page from the word go.)This is not a standalone tale, though curious readers wanting a short and punchy introduction to the world could get away with reading it as such. The author deftly weaves in reminders of the finer details in such a way as to leave nobody behind, whether looking at motivation, the grand narrative sweep, or the subtler plots within plots.Whilst Tchaikovsky's overarching story has yet to fully blossom here, its majestic potential can be discerned in the whorls and folds of his narrative. As each volume unfurls we see his world grow in ways which feel perfectly natural - almost inevitable at times - and yet paradoxically continue to surprise, delight, and grip the reader in innumerable ways. It'll be a little while before I get around to the fourth volume, Salute The Dark, but the wait will only serve to sharpen my appetite. Books 4-7 are peeking at me from the shelves right now, and it's only a matter of time before I snag the other three.

  • Sean Bester
    2019-03-16 10:03

    This one was a real mixed bag.On the one hand, Tchaikovsky's writing was much better than the previous two outings, and way more consistent. Certain passages even had me stopping to re-read in awe of how insightful and well constructed they were. Dude still needs an editor though, because the errors and types are still all over the place.I liked that the story went back to basics, with the main cast somewhat split up as they were in the first book. However, not a lot of much significance actually occurs until the ending chapters. The main issue, carrying on from book two, is that there way way too many throw-away characters being introduced. If there's one thing Tchaikovsky isn't understanding, it's that his villains are getting less and less interesting with the introduction of each new one (for which there are countless, by now). I don't want to see through these other points of view, especially if they're just going to be killed off one or two chapters later. There is absolutely no reason for this.There are definitely some interesting parts happening throughout the book, but it's the shortest one so far in the series, and it felt more like a pointless middling chapter overall. I was at least prepared, having read some reviews beforehand that called this the weakest of the 10 novels in the Shadows of the Apt series, but it is still disappointing in the grand scheme. Not that it will deter me from continuing on, but I do hope the narrative becomes much more focused in the next installment.

  • bkwurm
    2019-03-18 08:50

    I loved the wider world beyond the lowlands. And with the introduction of more types of insect kinden, I immediately start thinking of what other insects there are out there which could show up and I cannot wait for the next book. The non stop action continues. Character development is a little cliched but not overly so. The industrialisation of war seems to be a major theme.And the layers of intrigue have also multiplied considerably. What exactly does the representative of the Spiderlands want? Can the many little cities of the lowlands with their longstanding rivalries and suspicions put those away to work together against the Wasps? (Hints of the Greek city states against Persia?)And is the Wasp emperor's interest in immortality modeled on the first emperor of China's quest for the same? Or is the Mosquito playing him for a fool?Some inconsistencies do appear. Originally, the Moth kinden were presented as waging a guerilla war against the beetle kinden industrialists but now it seems the moth kinden dwell on a huge carved mountain that should have been an obvious target for the industrialists. And with the Coomonweal still undefeated and the conquest of the lowlands stalled, why would the Wasp empire start a fresh war in the Solarno area? And surely the defeated Wasp army would have reported the Spiderlands' interference in the siege? It just seems irrational.

  • Siegfried Hofman
    2019-03-03 07:48

    Keeping paceThe writer succeeded in bringing new twist to the storyline after finishing the main plots from part one. Hand in hand with the story the characters continue to evolve, sometimes in ways one did not expect. The overall feeling of uneasiness spreads to a degree where one simply can not refrain oneself from continuing in the series. More than a good job.

  • Doug
    2019-02-28 11:40

    Magic, Love, Loss, Revenge, Honor, and Deceits - the roots of this book are dirty and gritty. Another fantastic novel.

  • Louise Potterton
    2019-03-05 05:01

    love this series , it has good solid characters, keeps moving

  • Forrest
    2019-03-09 05:39

    Despite the fact that all but the 7th book in the Shadows of the Apt series were written before I started reading the first one, I can’t help but feel that Adrian Tchaikovsky somehow channeled my review of Dragonfly Falling when he was writing Blood of the Mantis. It is far more likely that Tchaikovsky saw for himself where his story was going off the rails and acted to correct the problem, but the reviewer in me is a little smug about being right, even if it was 3 years after the fact.Mantis addressed all the problems I had with Dragonfly, from the sprawling story that proved harder to follow, to the bland characters, and even the minor focus issues that plagued the battle sequences. Unfortunately, he also overcorrected for some of these problems. An expansive world with more than a half-dozen plots is suddenly replaced with a tight narrative at the expense of several unresolved stories and lost PoV characters. The remaining cast starts to flesh out a little, but become strangled by their reduced plotlines. Tchaikovsky also hasn’t stopped introducing new concepts and characters to the still complex setting. These new elements feel flat at best and extraneous at worst. In spite of these weaknesses, the book completely succeeds in its task: prolonging the series and setting up the next book.Blood of the Mantis skips forward a few months from the end of Dragonfly, presumably to avoid descriptions of the upkeep that follows major military actions. Like Dragonfly and Empire in Black and Gold, the action quickly splits up and we again follow small teams of protagonists off on a variety of missions. Two of the original main cast, Salma and Totho, have lost their main character privileges, with Salma also losing PoV character status. Another three major characters introduced in Dragonfly have received similar treatment, so instead of seven or eight major actions taking place, we’re down to three: Stenwold Maker in the Lowlands, Che acting as a cat’s-paw for the Spider-kinden, and a gaggle of characters following Achaeos in pursuit of the Shadow Box. The tighter narrative is the perfect tool for reeling in the exponential expansion that the series underwent in Dragonfly. Events are easier to follow and we are allowed to metaphorically catch our breath and take stock of the setting.Mantis can clearly be classified as a ‘middle’ novel in the series; a transitional work designed to address holes in the plot and prepare the reader for the next major plot arc. In some ways, the book is nothing more than an extended dénouement for Dragonfly Falling. As such, it fails to stand up as an individual work of fiction, but it doesn’t really need to. Longform fantasy occasionally needs ‘middle’ books to bridge events that would otherwise become increasingly heavy with the need for continued rising action. The presence of Mantis in the series is a good signifier that Tchaikovsky has a good grasp of the longform narrative, and that he is improving his craft as he writes. This bodes well for the rest of the series, promised to span ten books.Because the structure of these ‘middle’ books denies the heavy advancement of plot arcs, it can be problematic to try to force one through. Mantis has this problem in its Shadow Box arc. Part of the problem is that too many PoV characters were jammed into the arc. Six principle protagonists and several secondary antagonists get substantial PoV paragraphs, which makes the whole narrative seem a little muddy. To make matters worse, Achaeos, who should be leading his own story, is relegated to a support role until the very end. Tchaikovsky uses some round-and-round story techniques to draw the whole plot out for a few chapters, giving all the PoVs enough time to establish and interact, but there’s still not enough page space to really do anything of substance. The end result is thoroughly unsatisfying.These are relatively minor flaws when contrasted to the series as a whole, and the progress forward outweighs the damage done by the overcorrection. Blood of the Mantis does exactly what it was supposed to do and leaves the Shadows of the Apt in a great place for book four, Salute the Dark, to pick up.

  • Nick Reys
    2019-02-20 09:45

    Adrian Tchaikovsky’s Shadow Of The Apt is quickly becoming one of those series where every new book is highly anticipated. With anticipation, however, comes expectation and when one starts skyrocketing, the other usually does as well. The laws of reading do state, however, that the higher expectation, the more likely becomes disappointment. It’s up to the writer to make sure that anticipation and thus expectation is high where disappointment is avoided at all cost. Guess which series was able to do that?The thing that made this third book in the series particularly vulnerable to disappointment is the fact that this is quite a different novel compared to the first two instalments. Whereas those were primarily books filled with warfare – and big books at that – Blood Of The Mantis is anything but that. At 430 pages, it is quite a bit less big and also in terms of plot it takes quite a different course. Gone are the big fights and battles and instead the main focus here is on the intrigue and smaller collisions. This book also sees the fighting – if it does happen – taking place in the air.The storylines lead out in the first two novels are barely touched upon and instead new threads are woven into the existing story. Blood Of The Mantis is nothing but a set-up for the big finale of the current story arc in the fourth book, but that is not to say that things aren’t interesting. Magic is slowly coming back to lay its claim on the world and this is helped by the creepy Mosquito-kinden who perform some very disturbing magic. This book also sees another growth in terms of worldbuilding as we discover new places in the world and get acquainted with some new kinden. Blood Of The Mantis showcases very tight plotting, instead of the big stories from the first and second book and it works very well in this case. It really mixes things up and provides a nice reprieve from all the warfare.This book also sees in reduction in characters as the crew is split up and we solely follow the story from three POV’s. This makes for a deepening of those characters and the one who profits most from this, is Thalric. He’s always been quite a fascinating character and it has become quite hard to pinpoint which sides he’s actually on. Here, he gets a lot of narrative and you as a reader get the chance to make up your mind about him. I, for one, quite like him despite him being a Wasp and the fact that I don’t trust him. The limitation to only three POV’s also gives the book a nice flow and allows for things to develop quite naturally, instead of the restless shifting between different settings and characters in the previous novels. The writing also made this book very engaging and to be more specific, the lack of chronology therein. See, at the beginning and ending of the book, there is a shift in time which provides quite a dramatic flavour to the story. If it were told in chronological order, then things would have been way less exciting than they are now. I thought this was quite a clever trick to pull and highly appreciated the tension this brought with it.In the end, Blood Of The Mantis is mainly setting things up to come to a dramatic conclusion in the fourth book but it sets things up in style. Whereas the ending doesn’t feel forced in any way, it does feel – compared to the first two books – unfinished. There is only one solution for that, and that’s reading Salute The Dark ASAP.

  • Justin
    2019-02-26 13:05

    Things begin to slow down some in Blood of the Mantis. The third book in the Shadows of the Apt series is the smallest, and yet took the longest for me to read. Adrian Tchaikovsky maintains the same level of writing established in the first two, but seems to be struggling a bit with middle-book syndrome. The events in book 3 are too important to completely leave out of the story, it’s too long to be split between other books, and feels a little wanting after the first two books’ onslaught of awesomeness.Blood of the Mantis is not a bad book by any stretch of the imagination; it’s just not as good as the first two. It had some seriously high standards to meet after Dragonfly Falling. Dragonfly blew me away and is likely to be a contender for my favorite book this year. I think my perspective might be a little skewed as well. I’ve been reading these one right after the other, so the differences between the two are immediately apparent to me, possibly making my judgment a little unfair. With the previous two so fresh in my mind, I simply can’t help making comparisons.The plot is a continuation of what is set in motion in the previous books, and Blood of the Mantis doesn’t have an strong subplot of its own. The characters are still hunting the ShadowBox, and Stenwold is still dealing with political intrigue in Collegium and Sarn while trying to rally an increasingly unlikely Lowland alliance. The character development that was so amazing in both the previous books is almost nonexistent here. A few side characters get a little more attention, but nothing develops to the level of the previous books.Tchaikovsky does take the reader to some new places. We get to see the lands around the Exalsee, and the potpourri of kinden that inhabit that area. I did enjoy the notion that Shadows of the Apt will have a much larger geographical playground. The first two books never talked much about anything beyond the Spiderlands. Blood of the Mantis is the first to take the story into those other foreign lands.Tchaikovsky has set himself up with a beautiful and amazing world to play in. The variety of races and characters at his disposal is limitless. Blood of the Mantis may be a bit of a stumble in the series, but it’s a very small stumble. I’m very excited for book 4, and I get the feeling my reservations about Blood of the Mantis will be quickly