Posted by: Matt | November 5, 2007

Crystal Rain

Crystal Rain
Tobias Buckell
339 pgs.

John deBrun washed up on the shores of a land on the planet Nanagada several years ago with no memory. He has since married and had a child. But now everything has changed as the bloodthirsty Azteca have found a way through defenses at the Wicked High Mountains and are sweeping down through the villages of Nanagada. With the help of friends and enemies John must fight to save his adopted land while believing all is lost.

Let me start by saying that the only weakness in this story is that it starts slowly. Other than that it’s a fantastically entertaining story with a few surprises that turns into a great ride. There is a lot to like in Crystal Rain. It’s quite impressive to think that this is Tobias Buckell’s debut novel.

The book starts out feeling like a fantasy novel but it is soon apparent why it is classified as science fiction. The story starts off merely hinting where the people of Nanagada and their gods have come from. As the story progresses the reader slowly comes to fully understand their story. In Crystal Rain, Buckell has created a rich and original universe. When I first discovered the connections between Earth, aliens and the world of Crystal Rain it struck me as very cool and clever, though something tells me that some of these ideas must have been used before in sci-fi, they are just too wonderful not to have been.

Buckell has also created some great characters. John deBrun struggles to remember his past, knowing it was completely different than his present. And a mysterious man by the name of Pepper is a butt-kicking, technologically modified warrior, the kind I can really get behind, probably because I’m sort of a weakling myself.

Add everything together and you’ve got one terrific novel. I hesitated at first giving this novel a 5 but screw it, I haven’t had this much fun reading a book in quite awhile, couldn’t put it down.

Rating: 5.0

(Disclosure:  This novel was sent to me gratis by the author.  The only agreement was that I review it on my blog.  But please don’t think that affected my rating at all because it didn’t.)


  1. Wow! A 5 from Matt. 🙂 Looks like I’ll have to pick this one up.

  2. Kevin – Yeah, this is only the third 5 I’ve given this year. Thinking back I maybe could have given some other books a 5, but I would rather rate a book a little low than too high. I think you should pick this up, I think you’d like the character Pepper. And he has already written a second book set in this universe with a third on the way.

  3. I’m still blown away by the fact that this was a debut novel. Buckell definitely does a hell of a job. Ragamuffin, the sequel, is almost entirely as awesome, and I can’t wait for the third!

  4. Heather – Although this was his debut novel I guess he was pretty widely published with short stories, that experience sure seemed to pay off. I have Ragamuffin sitting on my bookshelf right now and just noticed yesterday that 2008 will see the release of the third book you mention.

  5. Sounds like you really enjoyed yourself! It’s always fun to come across five-stars (although I think I give that ranking way more often than you!).

  6. […] at A Variety of Words reviewed Crystal Rain at his blog: Buckell has also created some great characters. John deBrun struggles to remember his past, […]

  7. I’ve been wanting to read this one ever since I read Heather’s review!! Looks like a winner!

  8. This sounds like one I have to add to my TBR

  9. astripedarmchair – I did enjoy this one, I read the last 100 pages on a Friday night with just a short break. I don’t normally read that much in one stretch but I couldn’t put it down.

    Stephanie – I saw that Heather also wrote a very good review. I’ve seen a lot of good reviews on this one and the next book, Ragamuffin, is supposed to be better.

    Jeane – This book was a nice surprise, I was expecting it to be pretty good but not this good. Enjoy!

  10. That sounds really interesting, thanks for the review.

  11. Wow, an elusive 5 rating makes an appearance! I’ll have to keep my eyes open for the book and give it a go.

  12. […] is the third science fiction novel to be set in the universe introduced in Crystal Rain (which I reviewed and gave a perfect rating of 5.0 (or 10.0 on my new scale)) and followed by Ragamuffin. The books […]

  13. All ’round amazing blog post.

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