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Summary

From the author of the thrilling science-fiction epic Children of Time, winner of the prestigious Arthur C. Clarke Award.

Shards of Earth is the first high-octane, far-future space adventure in Adrian Tchaikovsky' Final Architecture trilogy.

The war is over. Its heroes forgotten. Until one chance discovery...

Idris has neither aged nor slept since they remade his mind in the war. And one of humanity’s heroes now scrapes by on a freelance salvage vessel, to avoid the attention of greater powers.

Eighty years ago, Earth was destroyed by an alien enemy. Many escaped, but millions more died. So mankind created enhanced humans ­such as Idris - who could communicate mind-to-mind with our aggressors. Then these ‘Architects’ simply disappeared, and Idris and his kind became obsolete.

Now, Idris and his crew have something strange, abandoned in space. It’s clearly the work of the Architects - but are they really returning? And if so, why? Hunted by gangsters, cults and governments, Idris and his crew race across the galaxy as they search for answers. For they now possess something of incalculable value, and many would kill to obtain it.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2021 Adrian Tchaikovsky (P)2021 Macmillan Publishers International Ltd

Critic reviews

"Brilliant science fiction." (James McAvoy on Children of Time)

"Full of sparkling, speculative invention." (Stephen Baxter on The Doors of Eden)

"One of the most interesting and accomplished writers in speculative fiction." (Christopher Paolini)

"If Homer had written space opera.... Enthralling, epic, immersive and hugely intelligent. This might be Tchaikovsky's best so far, and that's saying something." (Stephen Baxter)

What listeners say about Shards of Earth

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  • d
  • 31-05-21

Excellent, original space opera

Shards of Earth is a fantastic blend of uniquely human moments, uniquely alien moments, and a whole lot of destruction patch-worked together in strings of character development that span decades and space-systems. It’s a vast pool of new, alien ideas, of horror, of loss and small triumph. I loved this book to bits.
The plot, in short summary, sees the threat of the Architects gone, disappeared with the best efforts of Parthenon and the Colonies; the great human polyspora is free to continue, while the hounds of war skulk in the background. Idris Telemmier is an Intermediary, a psychic who touched the mind of the Architect and fended them off, and Myrmidon Solace a vat-bred warrior-angel whose people helped make it so. But now the war is behind them, the Colonies and the Parthenon’s relationship is so broken they’re close to war, and Idris and his crew on the Vulture God are called to a job to recover mysterious wreckage that could throw peace out the window. It’s a plot that takes you – literally – through jumps across vast space, through Throughways and the vast Unspace, where the void looks back at you. Where something lurks. From jump to jump, there’s action, intriguing aliens, battle scenes, and loss enough to pull a few tears at every turn. It’s a book that doesn’t relent and tugs you through its pages at an alarming rate. There was no low point in this one, for me. It was wondrous and riveting from the very start. And while the explosive ending peters out into something well-rounded, it does nothing to take you from hanging on that cliff.
Here, the ‘alien aliens’ are a treat; they’re a creative smorgasbord of new and intriguing ideas which relate to and are themed heavily around our very own earthborn zoology. I’d heard Tchaikovsky drew ideas from our animal kingdom before but had never seen it in action. As regrettably, I’ve only read a novella of his, and now this – though this book has moved him to an auto-buy status. I digress. By alien aliens I mean not the humanoid type that we see a lot in sci-fi, but the weird, strange, and definitely not human that we see here. For instance, the Castigar, who are very much like giant leeches that have forms dependent on their purpose, and an array of weapons attached to their heads? Or the Essiel, a race of clam-like aliens who rule over the Hegemony as gods, a coalition of alien species surrendered to them under the promise they can fend off Architect attacks, should they return. It gave depth to the book, and a sense that every new character we met was an incredible story of their own, spanning worlds, space travels and a separate history that you’re desperate to learn more about.
Accelerators, psychic waves, and new tech galore. Engines that claw and grab onto space, suits that do the same and pilots that can draw the curtain of real space back to reveal Unspace, a back channel that allows quickly travel through a dark void, but also speaks of horrors and strange consciousness that breath down your neck; there was no shortage of original ideas in this book. The way even the ships moved through space was explained was believable enough, yet completely new and just adds to the layers of intrigue.
Last, but not least of all, Shards of Earth had characters that you just can’t help but care about. Idris, the Intermediary, a psychic that navigates Unspace, that’s able to tap into the minds of the enemy, hasn’t slept for fifty-years, nor has he aged; the entire process of him being awake in the void while his crew slept, for fear they might go insane, was … touching. It resonated with me and dealt with elements of loneliness, of fear and depression, or not being able to sleep for fear. Unspace was an exercise in what it means to look after your own mind, and how without others around you, you could be lost in the void forever. I don’t know if that was the intention, but it certainly went to depths I didn’t expect there and was very clever and thoughtful with them. You have Solace, who has a strong heart, but also a strong sense of duty. She’s part of a race who’s vilified and rejected for the way they were born, for what they are, despite all the help they gave in the past. Or Olli, who found just living a hardship, but created a frame around her for which she can be free, but still can’t escape the anger within. And Kit, who culture makes him entirely, entirely alien from the rest of his crew, but who somehow finds a way to bridge that gap, a way to be loved for the crab-like alien that he is. I think just in the characters alone, this book is phenomenal.
Overall, if you like brand-new ideas, A LOT of action, and tears in equal amounts, then you should read Shards of Earth RIGHT NOW.

13 people found this helpful

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Annoying and dull

I was soooo tempted to give up on it a couple of hours in. I wish I did. Torturous the whole way through.

12 people found this helpful

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a world building exercise

This is a detailed and dry tour through a meticulously planned sci-fi universe, with a few cool ideas. It lacks a significant plot driver beyond the inciting incident and essentially just unpacks the story in laboriously mechanical steps until the end just sort of arrives. (caveat: I am more into fantasy and I actually find this to be true of a lot of sci fi so it's possible its just a segment of the genre I don't enjoy)

Found the writing itself perfectly ok except for a few instances where the author chose frankly bizarre language to elevate certain passages beyond the norm. Perhaps just me but these moments seemed genuinely bad writing. I tend to enjoy poetic language in my prose but there were some really bad descriptions which were quite jarring and needed an editor to insist on a rewrite.

I really enjoy Sophie as a narrator.

5 people found this helpful

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Disjointed and confusing.

I found that (for me) there were too many unclear story lines and the readers performance meant I couldn’t get the thought out of my head that I was being told a children’s story. I listened to the whole thing but never got into it. I’m really sorry but I just didn’t enjoy it.

1 person found this helpful

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Wish I'd bought the book...

Not as imaginative as AT's previous books, this seems a little vanilla. What really let's it down is the narration. There's no menace or peril, some of the characters sound like 14 year old children. I'll read the next one.

1 person found this helpful

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Dull

Stuff happened, but it was never interesting and I never really cared. Character voices were annoying.

1 person found this helpful

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Captivating

I couldn't stop listening. Intriguing story. I sped up to 1.25x because the reading was rather slow. I also didn't like the heavy 'pirate' accent that the narrator used for the crew. It came across as artificial.

1 person found this helpful

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No reason to keep listening…

Surprised that it I found it as boring as I did. I have been entertained by a range of fiction in the last 40+ years and yet this feels,like the first time a book is wasting my time. The characters appear contrived and flat and the narration appears to instruct the reader to care about them rather than give reason to do so. Described technology seems a mixture of vague and uninteresting instead of curiosity provoking. Far future societal changes have been done better by authors in the 1960s… The book may be great somewhere further down… and maybe I am lacking intellectual capacity to follow it (took three,tries for the Lord of the Ring… mind you, I was 10) but as it stands I will not waste more lifetime on trying to find out.

1 person found this helpful

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bit too cookie cutter for me.

the performance is good but the story, while having interesting ideas has very cardboard cut out characters. a warrior woman , a misfit with probable magic powers I could go on. not sure I will read the next one

1 person found this helpful

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  • VR
  • 25-10-21

Loved it

Have read & listened and enjoyed a few books already by AT, but (for me), this knocks socks off every other one. My only disappointment was to realise that this is a very recent book so I'll have to wait for it's sequel.
The best audiobook I have listened to so far, brilliant story and excellent narration. Recommended

1 person found this helpful

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  • Daniel Salmon
  • 26-11-21

Great Story. Shame about the narration

I loved this book so much that having finished it in paperback I got the audiobook so that my wife could listen to it. Suddenly I couldn’t stand the book. The narration made me cringe. Such a shame. I hope it gets done again by another narrator some day

1 person found this helpful

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  • Jon
  • 22-07-22

Great adventure

Tchaikovsky doing it again. Love his stuff. A long adventure with a lot of players

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  • Mark
  • 09-07-22

Absolutely perfect

Story, characters, concepts, language and dialogue are exceptionel - in true Adrian Tchaikovsky style! Looking forward to the next book!!

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  • doctorstarch
  • 30-06-22

Great narrator; wonderful sci-fi story

I have really enjoyed book one.

I sometimes read it and sometimes listen to it, depending on my mood.

I really love the narrator. She does a great job making each character an individual and I find myself listening to a chapter I have read to get a feel for how she might have performed it.

Well worth a listen.

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  • Pork Hunt
  • 30-05-22

Good solid interesting story.

Not going to change your life, but an engaging tale that appealed to my Peter F Hamilton / Alastair Reynolds sensibilities. There seems to be a lot of hate for the narration, I found it totally fine. enjoyed the story and the performance.

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  • Pauli S
  • 06-05-22

A compelling introduction to a new galaxy

The author does a job of introducing and building a new complex, future Milky Way. There are several alien species and an intriguing political web. The science is plausible enough but still a fantasy.
I will read the next book because I struggled with the narration. The "acting" didn't match my interpretation of the characters. However, the voice was very pleasing.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-04-22

The narrator's style does not suit the book

The story is relatively good. Not particularly novel.
The narration does it no favours. This is not a failing on the narrator's part, Sophie is quite competent in her own right. This is a production failure. It's like watching prima ballerinas performing in an MMA ring; a bit cringy.

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  • Andrew Ford
  • 08-06-21

A Bingeable Space Opera

An excellent first installment in a new trilogy from Adrian Tchaikovsky. I've listened to Adrian's other sci-fi Series (Children of Time and Children of Ruin) and while I very much enjoyed the epic nature and inter-species perspective of those works, Shards of Earth is much more relatable.

This novel, whilst taking place on an Epic scale with the extinction of humanity as a potential outcome, makes itself accessible by it's character-driven focus on the crew of a salvage vessel as they become embroiled in politics and war through the unintended consequences of their actions. Sophie Aldred as narrator carries the performance well, managing characters of all genders with equal aplomb.

I will be eagerly awaiting the second novel in this trilogy, which will be an instant-purchase for me. I highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys space opera or has read Adrian's previous works.