An ambitious and fitting end to the Wind Tide Trilogy, with the poignancy and intelligent writing that has now come to define this series shining here too.
Author: Jonathan Nevair
Publishing Info: Shadow Spark Publishing, 14th Nov 2021
Thankyou to Jonathan Nevair and Storytellers on Tour for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for my honest review. You can check out the other hosts who’ve come before me here:
There is also a superb giveaway! Click the image below and you’ll be transported right there (don’t worry this page will still be open!)
Against just Winds, there can be no mercy. Only death.
If you’ve come to this review to find out whether you’ll enjoy No Song, But Silence, I can address two different groups:
If you haven’t read any of The Wind Tide Trilogy, check out my review of Goodbye to the Sun for my most in depth review of the series as it’s the starting point. If you like the sound of it, you’ll likely enjoy the later two books, but maybe hold on off on reading the reviews of books 2 and 3 just yet!
If you have read and enjoyed Goodbye to the Sun and Jati’s Wager, there is a lot of continuity in the style here and you’ll be almost guaranteed to have fun with No Song, But Silence.
I don’t feel like any of the books in this series are an easy read, so of course you should bear that in mind if you have peaks and troughs of concentration or reading energy. Nevair’s writing style is again quite trusting of the reader’s ability to focus, so it’s not really one to read when you have distractions or want to fly through whilst still taking in everything you need to – and you do need to take a lot in!
This is both a positive and a negative depending on the reader. I do generally prefer this, though might have chosen a less busy period to read in to enjoy to its full potential; the language is often beautiful and poetic and I feel like you could fill up a little book with (non-cheesy) inspirational quotes. I did still find myself having to Google some terms or words though and I thought I had a decent vocabulary!
This again comes back to trusting the reader to have a little understanding of perhaps some history and politics to fully appreciate the intelligence that has gone into the writing. It isn’t essential, though – it just helps to acknowledge the work Nevair has put in to making a believable world. It’s why I’d describe the books as mature reads – for style rather than tone. I imagine there are metaphors and tidbits that I didn’t notice that will delight some readers who really know their stuff.
There are a multitude of serious themes at play, too – so the tone is mature aswell. Death and destruction, or the imminent risk of it, are a mainstay of the series; not just of individuals but whole groups of people, even planets. How the characters deal with adversity is what captivates us and brings us closer yo them. Their ability to keep moving forward, in some cases to have the foresight for the greater good, and most of all to retain hope in dark times. Because as humans, surely what we achieve will always be limited without a little hope?
In both Jati’s Wager and No Song, But Silence we have a time jump from the previous book, which I found really interesting and unique. It doesn’t feel like the trilogy is one long book broken up into three, but rather a grand, epic tale that couldn’t possibly have been told any other way. What I was particularly impressed by (which I noticed here more than in Jati’s Wager) is how well Nevair writes the returning characters to account for their age. It may just be a coincidence, but I felt like I could feel their increased experience and maturity in some respects. Ailo for example I felt like I enjoyed as a character more now that she isn’t a teenager and by the end had really felt she is the star of the series.
My favourite character of the trilogy though is undoubtedly still Jati and there wasn’t a character that stood out as strongly to me here. But that’s just personal favouritism and not a criticism of any of the characters, many of whom could be anyone’s favourite, because they’re all fleshed out, interesting characters. And Jati’s are some big boots to fill! What I did feel in this book thought is that as a collective, I enjoyed the characters the most in comparison to the other two, for sure.
This may have something to do with the stakes being raised yet further and the characters being in the midst of that. It always felt before that although the stakes were high, on the conclusion of the story arc, there was always something bigger looming or something left potentially unfinished before. The ending of an epic story can totally ruin something for me and make me hate almost the whole lot (looking at you, Game of Thrones Season 8!) so it was a huge relief that the ending was so satisfying and fulfilling, if a little emotional. Nevair is able to create this poignancy and almost melancholy feeling, especially when you reflect on your favourite characters and the journeys they’ve taken.
The only cause around here is ‘lost cause’
Nevair isn’t just able to provoke these emotions through his great characters; in the very first chapter there is a particularly harrowing scene in which two child skeletons are found buried in the sand up to their heads, a grisly reminder of some the harsh brutality of Kol-2 (and beyond).
Another advantage of the extended time period – when you think back to the events of the first book, is that some of those characters feel like ghosts long past rather than characters in recent memory you only read about a couple of books ago. This is highlighted in the whispers running through one of the surviving characters ears towards the end, perfectly putting into words that feeling of echoes of beloved characters (and there are more to add to the list of echoes in this book – *sobs*)
Without going into details, I like how the series feels like it has gone full circle at the ending of this book, and you get a real impression that the whole lot was planned meticulously before Goodbye to the Sun was released, because it just fits together too well not to have. It was nice to have Razor’s story completed satisfactorily (even if it wasn’t the perfect happy ending – but we already knew that would be the case) in addition to the new characters that were introduced.
Again a highlight for me is the ease of which Nevair is able to conjure up fantastic images in your head, and really immerse you in the different locations you travel to, from looking back at a planet in space, to the sands of Kol. 2. Sometimes beautiful landscapes are imprinted on your mind with merely a sentence of description, poetically done.
Kol 2’ s night sky ran like a speckled blanket, a sky river flowing between two shadowy, opaque mountains.
I’m usually a serial series procrastinator; I’ll read book one and then wait ages before reading the next one. With this I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to see how the story ends because it is such an epic sci-fi world that I wanted to jump back into. It never feels more so than in this book where even further depth is added to the world (or The Arm?) with a greater love for the characters than ever before.
No Song, But Silence is a thoroughly enjoyable read that completes an exciting new sci-fi trilogy in a satisfying fashion, with melancholy yet that relaxed satisfaction all good books should invoke when you finish them. The ambition and craft necessary to successfully achieve this shows a competence in the author, hinting at a great career, full of further imaginative worlds and characters to love.
Can the secrets of a lost philosophy break the cycle of vengeance?
The tide of justice ebbs. A mysterious and reclusive superpower threatens to extend its reach, colonizing new star systems for Wind energy and spreading a corrupt political empire. The People’s Army, once the hope for a new federation of allies in the Arm, has dwindled to a mere spectator in the fight for political control. Ailo’s role in its revolutionary fervor is over. The esoteric philosophy of the legendary Cin Quinti is her only concern now. But when an unimaginable threat sends a political shock wave through the Arm she must weigh the cost of self-preservation, hiding in the shadows as civilization falls to despotism and tyranny.
Light years away on Kol 2, a young librarian grows inspired by a mentor’s clandestine teachings. What he discovers with the newfound knowledge reveals a moral avalanche. The dubious and cruel political power corrupting his society must be exposed, but it will take a leap of faith to challenge an empire.
No Song, But Silence: a space opera inspired by The Eumenides, Aeschylus.
About the Author
From the moment he saw Star Wars: Episode IV in the theater as a child, Jonathan’s eyes turned to the night sky and the capability of FTL drives to whisk him off to distant star systems. After two decades of academic publishing, he finally got up the nerve to write fiction and bring those worlds to life.
Jonathan lives in southeastern PA with his wife and rambunctious mountain feist, Cricket. When not writing and teaching, he spends his time chasing his dog through the woods and hoping he’ll be able to walk in space before he croaks.
Jonathan Nevair is the pen name for Dr. Jonathan Wallis, Professor of Art History at Moore College of Art & Design, Philadelphia. For more information about his academic and teaching career click here.