Book Review: THE SHATTERED SKIES by John Birmingham

I received a review copy from the publishers in exchange for an honest review. It has not affected my opinions.

Genre: Sci-Fi
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 3 stars
Series: Yes - second book of trilogy



Book cover for THE SHATTERED SKIES: title in gold below a red planet on a starry sky

Centuries after they were defeated and exiled to Dark Space, the Sturm have returned. Disgusted by the new technologies humankind have come to depend on, they intend to liberate us, by force if necessary.

With their advanced tech rendered null by the Sturm’s attack, humanity face certain annihilation. Their only hope lies with a few brave souls who survived the initial onslaught: the Commander of the Royal Armadalen Navy’s only surviving warship; a soldier sentenced to die; a young royal, forced to flee when her home planet is overrun and her entire family executed; the leader of an outlaw band, and the infamous hero of the first war with the Sturm hundreds of years ago.

If they are to stand any chance of survival, these five heroes must shed their modern technology and become the enemy. Their resistance might be humanity’s only hope.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


One of the things I noticed, reading this and the previous book back-to-back in short order was how short a timeframe these books happen over. Both are a matter of days, and given these books are both on the order of ~500 pages, that’s a lot happening in a short space of time.

It means the book is very action packed, as the crew of the Defiant rock from one disaster to another, and then have to deal with politicking surviving lords who are out to increase their power by taking advantage of the disaster IN THE MIDDLE OF A BATTLE!! I really did enjoy that major battle as it just had so many twists and turns. The politicking “allies” did really help to give the battle a completely different feel too.

However, the downside of it being over such a short period of time (and having such a large narrating cast) was that I didn’t feel like the characters got much time to shine. They felt pretty much the same as they had at the start as the end, and didn’t really get a chance to become more understood to the reader. The focus was on the disaster facing them, and so the characters felt more like instruments of plot being moved about as the plot needed than as characters in their own right.

Mac (the foul-mouthed ancient Scot) and the AI Hero were once again the standouts, because their snipping like an old married couple was just so funny and out of place around the military types. They got a lot of chuckles out of me, and did help alleviate the bigger “we’re all going to die” threats.

I am interested to see how this trilogy ends, how they’re going to defeat the Strum, and how Hardy’s father will play into the final book as he was clearly being set up for involvement (though I thought he would this book, which was a bit disappointing when he didn’t.)

Read my reviews of other books by John Birmingham:

The Cruel Stars (this series):

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