Book Review: Luna: Wolf Moon by Ian McDonald
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Book 2 of Luna
Publisher: Tor (March 28, 2017)
Length: 382 pages
Luna: New Moon was a wonder for me, a sensation. And following directly on its heels is this sequel, Wolf Moon, which picks right up from the shocking events at the end of the first book. As such, the usual caveat about potential spoilers for book one applies to this review, in case you haven’t had the chance to start this series yet and would like to approach it with completely fresh eyes (and I would highly recommend doing so as soon as possible!)
In the previous novel, we were introduced to the Dragons: five powerful, dynastic corporate families that control everything on the moon. Among them, the most recent to rise were the Cortas, making their members the newest targets for the four other rivaling families—the Mackenzies, the Vorontsovs, the Suns, and the Asamoahs. Now the Corta matriarch Adriana is dead, her legacy scattered like lunar dust to the winds. Eighteen months have passed, and the surviving Corta children have been divvied up and claimed like so much of the company’s other assets by the four remaining families. Even with the death of a Dragon, nothing has changed; the moon is still a lawless, hostile place to be, ruled by the political machinations of the most cutthroat and corrupt.
Unbeknownst to nearly everyone, however, a major Corta player has survived the destruction, and he is keeping a low profile while attempting to regain his strength in secret. Of Adriana’s children, Lucas has always been one of the most competent and cunning, and he is determined to rebuild Corta Helio to become even more powerful than before. But first, he’ll need to go to Earth—even if the journey itself could very well kill a lunar-born citizen like him, whose physiology has been so altered by the low-gravity environment of the moon. Still, in the war between the Dragons, it’s the children who suffer most. Lucas’ son Lucasinho and niece Luna are still alive, but only because of the protection offered by the Asamoahs, while his nephew Robson has become a hostage of the Mackenzies, and devastation seems to follow him wherever he goes.
It’s no surprise this series has been described as Game of Thrones on the moon. Ian McDonald has achieved something truly impressive here with Luna, creating a tableau filled with multiple subplots and crisscrossing character paths. The ongoing power struggle between the great Dragons is rife with political scheming and intrigue, with alliances constantly being formed and broken, and the character list in the back of the book is a veritable tangle of relationships showing a history of arranged marriages and shady backroom deals between members the five families. This sequel continues the trend that started with New Moon, exploring the twisted fates of those characters who were fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on your point of view) enough to survive past the stunning events of the first book.
Originally, I had thought Luna would be a duology, and I’m glad I found out otherwise before I started this book, or I might have been more frustrated by some of the meandering story threads and lack of real resolutions. Despite being a great read, Wolf Moon felt distinctly like a “middle book”, and it didn’t impact me quite as much as New Moon did. If I were to guess, I would say this was due to the character POVs. First and foremost, with Adriana dead, we lost one of the strongest voices from the first book, and this was a void I felt keenly. Moreover, while Lucas Corta struck me as one of the more important characters, his storyline was often relegated to the background especially in the middle section of the book. Ariel Corta also had a diminished role compared to the part she played in New Moon, while Wagner Corta, whom I admittedly have less of an interest in, got more attention this time around. That said, the two bright points for me were Lucasinho and Robson, and if there’s one silver lining to the loss of so many older Cortas, it’s that the members of the younger generation are finally getting their chance to shine.
As you can see, most of my feelings for this sequel are based off of my personal preferences for the different characters. Certain strengths have remained the same from New Moon though, chief among them the fascinating world-building. I am still in awe of McDonald’s vision of a highly individualistic lunar society, where those who prosper are the strong and the merciless. I also love the multilayered storytelling, and the fascinating lives of the diverse people who bring this rich world to life. Every detail should be savored and carefully digested, simply because everything about Luna is so comprehensive and intricate; blink and you might miss something important.
All told, despite not reaching the height of its predecessor, Wolf Moon is still a solid and worthy follow-up. If you enjoyed the ingenuity and the surprises of the twists and turns in New Moon, then you definitely will not want to miss this sequel.
More on The BiblioSanctum:
Review of Luna: New Moon (Book 1)