The Swan Riders
By: Erin Bow
Release Date: September 20th 2016
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Format: Print ARC
A copy of this book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review.
Greta Stuart had always known her future: die young. She was her country’s crown princess, and also its hostage, destined to be the first casualty in an inevitable war. But when the war came it broke all the rules, and Greta forged a different path.
She is no longer princess. No longer hostage. No longer human. Greta Stuart has become an AI.
If she can survive the transition, Greta will earn a place alongside Talis, the AI who rules the world. Talis is a big believer in peace through superior firepower. But some problems are too personal to obliterate from orbit, and for those there are the Swan Riders: a small band of humans who serve the AIs as part army, part cult.
Now two of the Swan Riders are escorting Talis and Greta across post-apocalyptic Saskatchewan. But Greta’s fate has stirred her nation into open rebellion, and the dry grassland may hide insurgents who want to rescue her – or see her killed. Including Elian, the boy she saved—the boy who wants to change the world, with a knife if necessary. Even the infinitely loyal Swan Riders may not be everything they seem.
Greta’s fate—and the fate of her world—are balanced on the edge of a knife in this smart, sly, electrifying adventure.
I really enjoyed the first book, The Scorpion Rules, and looked forward in reading what happened next with these characters. The Swan Riders has a much different feel and pacing than the first book but continues the story wonderfully. I felt it was a very strong follow-up.
The Swan Riders focused more on Talis (the AI) and Greta as well as the elusive Swan Riders we briefly see in the first book. The hostages for peace view the Swan Riders as the dreaded reality of their fates. Riders come and select the hostage who is next to die. We see this in the first book but only in this one do we really get an idea of what these Riders are all about. We get to see how they experience life and where they train and live. I found it all very interesting and just another aspect of this world that is so messed up.
Greta in this book is grappling with becoming an AI herself. The transition is not easy and it more often than not kills the human transforming. Greta is strong and with the aid of Talis we get to see her try to maintain herself yet become something else. Greta’s struggles were done wonderfully and Bow really adds a dimension of confusion and disorientation for Greta. As the reader we are pulled on this journey and are able to really feel the losing of Greta’s self.
Talis is such an intriguing character- I adored his evil ways in the first book and I was so happy that he makes a very large appearance in this book. He is such a complex character and Bow really dives into his past in this book. We also get to meet the other AI’s- which was creepy and oh so interesting. This world is so creepy to me and so flawed. Bow has really created something believable yet very original.
Erin Bow continues the story from The Scorpion Rules wonderfully in this follow-up. I felt that we got a much more detailed look at the characters and watching them grapple with their fates was interesting. I was so happy we got to see more of Talis and the AI’s in general. What an immensely brutal and creative world Bow has created.