- Paperback: 296 pages
- Publisher: St. Martins Press-3PL; Reprint edition (1 August 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0765388367
- ISBN-13: 978-0765388360
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.9 x 20.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 181 g
- Customer Reviews:
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
170,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #13760 in Epic Fantasy (Books)
Spiderlight Paperback – 2 Aug 2016
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"Spiderlight is a creepy-crawly treat from the master of non-human heroes, a joy from beginning to end." -- Paul Cornell, author of Witches of Lychford and The Severed Streets
"[Spiderlight] is a master class in subverting our expectations to surprise, engage, and deliver a fantastic story that works even when it isn't pulling the rug out from under us." -- Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog
"Working in a small space, Tchaikovsky gives us sympathetic characters, real moral dilemmas, and emotional depth, all shot through with a sly humor that kept me grinning throughout. If, like me, you're a D&D fan who always wondered about the ethics of Detect Evil or what the orcs eat in Mordor, you will love this one." -- Django Wexler, author of the Shadow Campaigns series
"Adrian Tchaikovsky's Spiderlight is [a] story that has loyalty as a central concern, albeit loyalty to an idea. It's an interrogation of the standard opposition between Light and Dark, good and evil, and what it means to deny personhood to - to strive to exterminate - certain kinds of people based on who and what they are. It's a novel about the lies we tell ourselves about what it means to be good, a story about monsters, a story about learning to be better. (It also has a great sense of humour. And spiders.)" -- Locus
"Spiderlight is a great fantasy read from one of the UK's growing creators of world-class genre storytelling. Worth your time." -- Starburst Magazine
"Subversive and classic, Spiderlight is a timeless adventure cranked up for the modern era of readers. A warship-rocker of an adventure, Adrian Tchaikovsky has struck another literary goldmine that's perfect for readers to dive into. Gripping and highly recommended." -- Jeremy Szal, Starship Sofa
"Spiderlight is a rip-roaring, old-fashioned heroic fantasy romp that also messes playfully with some of the genre's more outdated conventions... a breathless rush that never outstays its welcome." -- Dirge Mag
"Spiderlight will take you on a ride directly through straight fantasy and into the realms of the really fantastic... a brilliantly original novel." -- Geek Syndicate
"A must-read for all fans of fantasy. Very highly recommended." -- Civilian Reader
"In a world of large epic fantasy series with mushy pacing and a lack of focus, Spiderlight is as sharp as a spider's fang, as tight as its webbing, and as multifaceted as its gaze." -- Skiffy & Fanty
"A very fun, creepy quest tale with some quirky and engaging adventurers." -- Bull Spec
"Tchaikovsky pokes gentle fun at some classic tropes and deftly uses others in a way that shows his deep love for and broad knowledge of the genre." --SF Bluestocking
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Top international reviews
Tchaikovsky once more takes a major genre, grasps it by the scruff of the neck and gives it thorough shaking, as in his excellent science fiction adventure, 'Children of Time'. However, this isn’t merely a parody. The story is too engrossing, the characters and adventure too gripping and genuinely engaging for this to be just used as a vehicle for ironic amusement. But there are some delicious moments that had me chuckling aloud – for instance when Penthos promises himself to magic the brave warrior, Harathes, another week of impotence for snapping at him.
He also thoroughly deconstructs the sexual politics underlying the inclusion of the mandatory female warrior by the inclusion of Cyrene – and her frustration at the way Harathes treats her. In a memorable scene, she rants at Dion that she is sick and tired of being treated as a sexual object by her male counterparts. Her bitter diatribe that she is always judged as a woman first and a warrior second is a scene that will stay with me for a long time. I’ve often thought the notion that fit young women can be given sufficient agency to overcome male dominance by dressing them in leggings and putting a weapon in their hands is far too simplistic a fix for the very complex dynamic that keeps women as second-class citizens around the world. Tchaikovsky rips away any fond illusions fantasy fans might have that bunging a handful of attractive sword-waving young women into the middle of an adventure successfully evens up the gender power imbalance.
But the book is transformed by the inclusion on this quest by the object the group brings away from the Spider Queen. We see the group reflected through an entirely alien, terrified viewpoint, which shifts the dynamic and provides a different, far less cosy viewpoint on our group of brave heroes. I am fond of spiders and thoroughly sympathised with the poor thing – but Himself admitted he also felt repulsed as he has an instinctive dislike of all things spidery. I’m guessing he won’t be the only one experiencing that uncomfortable mix of reactions to Nth’s plight. As a creature of the Dark, he is regarded by the righteous in the group as an abomination and it is interesting that the morally compromised Lief is the one to show Nth most empathy and compassion.
I’m conscious that discussing some of the underlying issues makes this book sound drearily earnest – and it’s nothing of the sort. It’s a rollicking adventure, full of incident and gory encounters to gladden the heart of any epic fantasy fan – and the climax with the Dark Lord will stay in my memory for a very long time.
If you enjoy this genre at any level, then I thoroughly recommend Spiderlight – it’s one of my outstanding novels of 2016 in a year marked by the general excellence of the books I’ve had the pleasure to read.
This is a short book, a standard quest trope with the usual smorgasbord of iffy characters brought together by a shared need. As such it could have been supremely predictable and ultimately forgettable. But it's neither, except as regards settings and genre trappings. The most self-righteous characters are undermined by doubt, and no-one is quite what they appear. It makes for unpredictability where there is usually no scope at all.
And any book that can make me sympathise with an arachnid of any stripe is worth my admiration. Read it!
That being said, you certainly don't need to be a D&D master to enjoy the book. I've only a passing acquaintance with those games and I loved it. I especially liked the character of Nth. Tchaikovsky did a fantastic job of exploring the journey from member of a spider horde to a fully developed character.
Spiderlight is, ultimately, an adventure. There are certainly some deeper moments of morality and philosophy, but they're presented to the reader to think about as little or as much as they want. If you want a mindless fantasy quest, you can enjoy Spiderlight. If you want something that will make you think, you'll enjoy Spiderlight.
It's a bit of a cliche to suggest you'd recommend a book to everyone. But, in this case, I honestly think I can recommend Spiderlight to anyone who likes fantasy.
The main plot itself is nothing overly complex: a group of adventurers of the Light (with their own personal issues) setting out to defeat the lord of the Dark with the aid of a prophecy requiring the guidance of a vicious, intelligent spider leading them through the secret paths of the world. The magician of the party transforms the spider into something they can communicate with, a conflicted being somewhere between human and spider.
The plot is a thrilling pulp adventure, but where Spiderlight *coughcough* really shines is the interactions of the adventurers with the man-spider that allows the author to hold up a magnifying glass to the nature of humanity and allow us to examine it through his alien intellect. A fascinating and fun read.
The inter-play between the characters was very refreshing for this genre - even if the party was made up of the same old warrior, wizard, ranger, cleric and thief - and some of the conversations made me chuckle quietly to myself and some of them made me laugh out loud (prompting the odd strange look from my wife until I read it to her and made her laugh too!) The character of Enth however brought a great deal of much needed pathos to the story and gave the author a way of looking back at humanity using its own looking glass without cracking it too much.
All in all, I can't recommend this book highly enough. Full of action and just the right amount of comedy...
Five Stars - go and read it now!
It took me a couple of chapters to get a handle on it, time to adjust my mind to the story rather than for the story to get going (in the end I was thinking Buffy the vampire slayer, for some reason?).
A good read with plenty of humour, I'll certainly be reading again.
I did still enjoy the story, very much so, and found that as I moved through the story I couldn't put it down.
Not as good as Children of Time, still well worth a read, however.