I’ve been a regular Tim Powers fanboy ever since a fateful Dave Langford review in White Dwarf pointed me towards Anubis Gates. I picked up a doubleheader of his early works ages ago, and finally read the two novels almost back-to-back.
The Skies Discrowned is Powers debut, and it’s both a beautifully simple science fiction adventure and a foreshadow of things to come.
The book is indeed a low-science adventure (almost a non-magic fantasy novel for much of its length), that establishes the milieu with a couple of effective paragraphs and then pumps the throttle. There’s plenty of swordplay, there’s an underground secret society, there’s maiming of the protagonist, there’s references to classic poetry, all themes that crop up in the author’s later works.
But there’s very little layering, no sequential plot-twisting big reveals – this is a simple adventure, not a serious to be dissected at length.
It’s a decent, brief ride, but by no means to get acquainted with the author.