I’m a bit torn on Cibola Burn on the whole, on the one hand, the petty solar system politics take a back seat and the focus is shifted to a much smaller scale. Now I actually like the fact that we get a smaller scope for once, but sadly the petty solar system politics are just translated to petty planet politics with black and white, cardboard cutout characters.
The main story narrows down in scope, but it’s basically still the feud between the Belters and the OPA on one side, and the ‘Inners’ / Corporate types on the other. I did like how the book raises the question on who has ‘dibs’ on new ground / planets; Even if there isn’t a clear cut answer by the end, the philosophical and political concepts related to it are worth a think.
In Cibola Burn the focus narrows and focuses on an alien planet, which gives us a nice chance to examine the authors ability to create new ecosystems, but in my opinion it fell a bit flat in the execution department. This new planet offers so many options to create a whole new “world”, but apart from one funny species and a few plot devices, there isn’t really that much to it. It doesn’t have to be Sanderson specific, as this is not that kind of novel, but to me the whole planet felt a bit sterile and boring.
For the first time in this series, the new characters didn’t feel real or believeable and it annoyed me quite a bit, especially at the start, when we’re following the rebel colonists which are fighting the evil corporation and both sides are so incredibly black and white. No one seems to be capable of any other thoughts than the one their doctrine prescribes. We do get a fair bit of Alex & Naomi, which I appreciated.
Just as with the previous installments, the writing is solid, it’s loaded with witty quips that gave me quite a few chuckles. As a whole, everything flows naturally so reading for longer periods is a breeze.
When I compare this to it’s predecessors, it just falls a bit flat for me. The whole thing feels like a ‘break’ from the main story and not in a good way. I can’t fight the feeling that this could have been done better.