Stories of the Raksura is a collection of novellas in two volumes set in the world of the Raksura created by Martha Wells featuring a race of shapeshifters. The series including the books The Cloud Roads, The Serpent Sea, and The Siren Depths. Volume One contains “The Falling World” and “The Tale of Indigo and Cloud.” “The Falling World” follows characters from the main novels, while “The Tale of Indigo and Cloud” is a prequel set several years beforehand.
Shapeshifters are definitely my thing, and the Raksura themselves are absolutely fascinating. The best part of the two novellas had to be the consistent and fascinating world-building, which was delightfully engaging. Each story included a very brief overview of the shapeshifter lore in the series, which was especially helpful coming into the world as a first-time reader.
As with many fantasy novels with in-depth world-building, though, Stories of the Raksura was not only a little difficult to navigate at first, the unfamiliar names and the large number of characters were downright confusing at times, especially as I hadn’t read the previous novels. The first story, as I discovered, is set after the main trilogy, or at least after some of the events in the trilogy — it was rife with main series spoilers, which was to be expected but a little disappointing.
However, I was completely reeled in by the societal structure presented in the story. The Raksura have a somewhat hive-like social structure, headed by queens who are guarded by soldiers and served by other types of workers. The social structure also dictates how different groups interact with one another, which leads to some really interesting events that are well-explained (and not overexplained, which is my main gripe in such a situation.)
As someone who came to Stories of the Raksura without having read Martha Wells’ original trilogy, I can safely recommend this to anyone who enjoys shapeshifter fantasy, especially those who are interested in series with interesting and different social structures. On the other hand, there are DEFINITELY spoilers for the main series, so if you’re a little sensitive in that area, check out Wells’ other books first.
3.5 out of 5 stars
Feliza Casano is a fan of anime, manga, and every sort of book as well as editor in chief at Girls in Capes. She writes for all sections of the site, and she’s the one behind GiC’s Facebook and Twitter. Follow her on Twitter @FelizaCasano.