The Weight of the World is the second novel in Tom Toner’s ambitious Amaranthine Spectrum, and you really do need to have read The Promise of the Child before starting this one – whilst some series can be joined partway through, this definitely isn’t one of them. As such, this review may contain spoilers for the first novel, although I will try to keep these to a minimum.
The Weight of the World picks up where The Promise of the Child left off. Set in the 147th century, humans have conquered space, and have evolved into multiple different species during this time. As with The Promise of the Child, there are multiple narratives to the story, the main ones being:
- Lycaste, one of the Melius – a race of giant humans – continues his journey with the Amaranthine, Hugo Maneker, not entirely sure where they are going or why, but keen to return to his old home
- Sisters Eranthis and Pentas, old friends of Lycaste’s, are also on a journey of their own, in the company of another Amaranthine, Jatropha. They have with them Pentas’ daughter, whose destiny isn’t entirely clear, but is significant. This engenders danger for the small group, and their journey is anything but straightforward
- The continued machinations of Aaron the Long-Life in his quest to obtain the Amaranthine throne
Whilst these are the main narratives in the novel, there are various other threads that are covered. It’s not entirely clear to me how some of these elements fit together at this stage, but as we’re part way through the series, I think that’s ok for the time being – I’ve no doubt that Toner has everything plotted out and that everything will be clear by the end of the series.
I enjoyed the development of Lycaste’s character in this second novel, as he progresses from being a beautiful yet timid individual to someone who has stories to tell and who is starting to understand the world around him a little more. This is at least partly due to Percy – a new character (if it’s right to refer to him as such) – who has become my absolute favourite in the novel. I won’t say too much about Percy as I think it would be a bit of a spoiler, and I’m not sure, at this stage, whether I’m supposed to like him or not, but for now, I think he’s brilliant.
Like The Promise of the Child, The Weight of the World is bold, ambitious and incredibly complex. Indeed, I was amazed that it included a short recap of the first novel which extends to a mere two pages! I’ll admit that I had to make use of the glossary that is included in the novel – this isn’t burdensome, and I did find it useful to be able to check on the characters and races that are new or that aren’t mentioned as much.
I have to admit that whilst I enjoyed The Promise of the Child, I did prefer The Weight of the World. I think that this is because I am now a little more familiar with the characters and the universe in which these novels are set – this is a wonderfully ambitious series that has taken me a little while to get into, but it’s safe to say that I’m now hooked, and I’m looking forward to volume three, which I hopefully won’t need to wait too long for.
The Weight of the World was published on 16 February. Many thanks to the author, Tom Toner, and to Stevie Finegan at Gollancz for providing a copy for review.