Rajaniemi continues his uncompromising no exposition storytelling style. Other than one or two short sentences, all terms were left unexplained; it’s up to the readers to make sense of what each terminology means from the narrative. For example gogols, Spimescape, Wildcode, and many more. Feel free to call me stupid or dumb if you want but I had to cheat a bit here. I almost DNFed this book at 30% mark because I understood almost nothing. Do not let the page count trick you into thinking this is a light sci-fi read, it’s absolutely not. If you’re checking this review because you’re thinking of giving up, I strongly suggest you check out these two wiki page; one being completely spoiler-free and the other one contain some spoilers.
http://www.karangill.com/glossary-quantum-thief-fractal-prince-jean-le-flambeur/ (completely spoiler-free glossary explanation.)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_characters_in_the_Jean_le_Flambeur_series (this one has spoilers for the first book and mini-spoiler for this book. But if you ended up checking this one you’ll probably appreciate the spoilers.)
This two list helped me immensely. I ended up enjoying this book so much more than before. The reason behind this is mostly because I sucked at math/physics and hard sci-fi is not a genre I visit often; especially when the level of hardness is as hard as Wakanda’s vibranium. I mean, for god sake, I was happy to get a 7/100 score on my physics final exam in high school, how the heck would I be able to understand this high concept sci-fi jargons without any exposition?
“If reality is not what you want it to be, change it.”
Picture: The Fractal Prince Chinese cover
Jean at this point has become something of a trickster archetype incarnate. Mieli’s past. Stories within stories, stories coming to life, wildcode, body swapping, identity theft; look, it’s too much to say in a review.
If you’re able to appreciate every idea that appeared in the book, I seriously think you’re going to end up putting this book/series into your favorites list. There were a lot of brilliant ideas that lie beneath the surface of the main plot and sci-fi jargons. I struggled during the first half but with the help of those two wiki page I mentioned, the second half of the book ended up becoming a very engaging ride, full of high concept and revelations. Metafictional stories-within-stories from multi-perspectives, switching back and forth between timelines, body swapping and identity theft; look, it’s impossible for me to explain all the things that made this book awesome, I seriously need a reread of the trilogy one day.
I know I’m not done with this trilogy yet but this two book alone, in my opinion, was more difficult than Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy already; For now, all I can say is that although I enjoyed this one—quite mind blown by the concepts too—I wasn’t able to fully appreciate every single thing that happened in this book. Once again, I can only recommend this book and trilogy to readers who love hard sci-fi with close to zero expositions. I highly doubt any new to sci-fi readers—unless they’re scientists, mathematicians—would be able to understand everything that Rajaniemi cooked up here. Consider yourself warned. Now, let me proceed to destroy my brain by reading the conclusion immediately.