Sci-fi Romance, 2009
Bound to Fall is best read after you have read the previously related stories in the Encounters series (On Wings, Rising and Reaching Higher. This is actually a genuine sequel that provides some closure to the lives of the two couples that were featured in those two stories. If you insist on reading this as a standalone story, well, good luck to you, dear.
Dinun qel Noto is in love with Moon, as we have seen by the end of On Wings, Rising, while Kine Raelne is in love with Suaj qel Gwan by the end of Reaching Higher. When this story opens, Dinun’s health is clearly failing. Perhaps life on Quarn does not agree with a mere human, oh dear. You know what they say about living with Angels, after all. Rael is more hardy than Dinun and life is good, at least until some of his people make contact with Quarn and arrive bringing what could be either a new beginning or the end of a beautiful dream depending on how our main characters play their cards.
You know what I think as I read this story? Bound to Fall is actually an epilogue of sorts. If you have read the previous stories and skip this one, you won’t actually be missing out on anything essential in appreciating the romance between the main characters. This one and the previous two stories could have easily been packaged together as a longer novel with three acts, come to think of it. On the other hand, I am not sure how anyone who has not read the previous two stories will be able to get into this one because there are some point of view issues, nothing too major but probably confusing to a new reader still trying to get a hang of and tell apart the main characters. Do yourself a favor, really, and read those two other stories first if you want to read this one.
Still, Ms Somerville is always a capable storyteller, and here, she is still in pretty good form where her craft is concerned. But because this is an epilogue of sorts and the main characters are already in love, I miss the emotional intensity that is always present when she tells a story about two people falling in love. The intensity isn’t the same when the characters are already in love, sigh.
And since this is the closure of the stories of these two couples, perhaps I should make an observation about the overall three titles in this series – I think the world building could have been done better. Details about the setting are still pretty sketchy even in this story. The setting is like an amorphous hodge-podge of spacecrafts, angels, and what not, with vague or superficial details present pertaining geography, place, and culture. I can “see” the emotions of the main characters and their act of falling in love, but not the sense of place in these stories, if I am making any sense here.
I don’t mind reading Bound to Fall as it is a well-written story, but I feel that it is too much of an epilogue of sorts that isn’t an essential read to readers of the previous two titles. Hence, I feel that it is only fair that I give this book a score slightly lower than the previous two titles, what with it being what it is.