Audiobook Review: Every Sky A Grave by Jay Posey
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 (Overall): 4 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Book 1 of The Ascendance Series
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio (July 7, 2020)
Length: 12 hrs and 37 mins
It felt great to be reading Jay Posey again with Every Sky A Grave, and what a high-flying, super massive, electrifyingly ambitious novel it was. It’s no exaggeration to say there’s a bit of something for everyone in here, from epic adventures in space to daring feats of survival.
In this story, we follow Elyth, an agent of the galaxy’s peace-keeping order, the First House of the Ascendance. They’re also the custodians of great power, the Deep Language which was understood to control everything. And when a planet stepped out of line? That’s when the Ascendance would step in and rectify that.
When the book starts, Elyth has just been dispatched on a secret mission to a system to quash a threat of insurgence. A true believer of the Ascendance and their creed, she carried out her task, which is to use the magic of the Deep Language to essentially cause the planet’s untimely death. Pleased with her work, Elyth’s superiors next send her to Qel, where she will put her skills of subterfuge to good use, investigating a mysterious phenomenon that shouldn’t be possible.
Unfortunately for Elyth, nothing goes as planned. Her mission is compromised from the start as her ship crashes on the planet, and our protagonist is forced to get creative and improvise. The longer she persists, however, the more she begins to realize there is a lot to the Ascendance she has never thought to question before, while the strange presence on Qel continues to perturb her.
First and foremost, I have to say I was completely blown away by the world building. Posey has pulled out all the stops when it comes to creating this universe where an all-powerful Deep Language forms the basis of everything that exists. While Every Sky A Grave is classified as science-fiction, there is a spellbinding quality to this concept that I think will make even fantasy readers feel at at home. And then there’s the sheer scope of the galaxy and the idea of a vast system of planets at your fingertips. The First House of the Ascendance, an all-female organization made up of agents like Elyth—experts in combat, stealth and manipulation—are both the arbiters and warriors of this network, bringing peace and stability throughout its reaches, no matter the cost.
And speaking of our protagonist, I was also intrigued by her evolution of her character. She’s fiercely independent and headstrong, beginning this story as a loyal agent of the Ascendance, completely devoted to her order and Paragon, its supreme matriarch. Elyth’s journey is thus an interesting one, and even when she is at her most stubborn and misguided, she remains a sympathetic lead. There’s also no denying her resourcefulness and quick thinking; this is someone who can make a quick grasp of a situation and act with urgency and confidence.
That said, I think as the story progressed, I wish we had a better understanding of the ways of the First House of the Ascendance as well as more about the Deep Language, particularly as the plot began involving more of its inner political conflicts and tensions. It grew a little confusing, causing the pace to slow considerably in certain sections in later parts of the book. It’s a shame, because I think greater clarity would have made bolstered many of Elyth’s decisions, or at the very least, given more weight to her gradual change of heart.
Still, I had a great time with Every Sky A Grave, despite some fogginess in the second half where the story suffered a bit of fraying at the ends. The world building and character development remained strong throughout, however, and overall I’m impressed with this solid opener to Jay Posey’s new Ascendance series. I look forward to the more with interest!
Audiobook Comments: I enjoyed passing the hours with the audiobook edition, narrated by Laurel Lefkow. I thought her reading gave energy and life to the prose, and her voice was also a good match for Elyth’s dialogue and inner thoughts. All in all, a good book that was easy and fun to listen to.