Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald
Dallas meets Game of Thrones on the Moon, with a little bit of The Godfather thrown in for good measure, just about sums up this first volume of a planned trilogy from Ian McDonald.
We follow the fortunes of the Corta family, one of five families who control business on the Moon, as they feud and intrigue with each other for control of the economy, all the while intermarrying with each other, usually to gain advantage rather than for love.
With a legal system where contract law reigns supreme, and where disputes can be settled via a legally approved knife fight, the Moon is no place for the weak, and the Cortas and McKenzies are soon at each other’s throats for control of the lucrative Helium 3 trade.
This is a book with a large cast of characters (so large in fact, that there is a list of characters and their relationships at the beginning) and as such, there is little scope for fully fleshed out character development. Adriana Corta, the matriarch of the Corta family, is the only character who gets more than the average attention paid to her back story. The book also includes a glossary at the back, which you will have to refer to frequently, as the five families of the story all originate from different parts of the world and frequently use words from Portuguese, Arabic, Korean and Yoruba, to name but a few.
The story is involving enough to keep your attention, but with such a large cast of characters to introduce, the book is more or less doomed to be all set up for the next volume, as proves to be the case — the story ends abruptly on a cliff-hanger, with the story nowhere near complete. Don’t bother starting this book if you are looking for a stand alone novel, or you will be sorely disappointed with the ending. If you are looking for a new series to start however, then there is enough in this book to bring you back for the second volume.
And if you do decide to read this book, don’t get the Gollancz first edition, as it is riddled with proof-reading errors. I wasn’t keeping count, but subjectively there seems to be around one error for every ten pages or so. The constant extra words or missing words, or the wrong word in a sentence really pulled me out of the story on a number of occasions, and is not something I would have expected from a company of Gollancz’s reputation. Hopefully the errors will be fixed in subsequent printings.
Recommended for fans of familial intrigue and series novels, not so much for stand-alone enthusiasts.