Two eco-engineers trying to save their planet from environmental disaster discover their employer may possess a hidden agenda in this first installment of a series.
On the wind-swept plains of the planet Arcadia, a flyer descends and deposits its lone passenger, an eco-engineer named Fee Den Coille. She’s traveled from the mountains to meet her partner, Caleb Winter, a native of the plains and an expert in passive wind and solar utilization. Fee’s expertise in water and transpiration is needed in the plains. Both come from powerful corporate families. Caleb’s family company, Winter Solaris, is a leader in solar energy on the plains while the Den Coille family dominates the market in nutrient-rich trees. Fee and Caleb work for the Survey, an organization dedicated to maintaining the ecological balance of Arcadia. The environmental fabric of the planet is unraveling and the Survey has assigned to Fee and Caleb the task of rescuing Arcadia. Loyal to the Survey, they commence work on the project, knowing it will affect their families’ businesses. As Arcadia begins to change, they discover the Survey may be keeping secrets that place them and their families in danger. Jones’ (Swift Runs the Heart, 2016, etc.) sci-fi epic offers an intricate plot and rich characterizations. In creating Arcadia and the environmental dangers that threaten it, the author includes several themes, including the ethics of ecological engineering and corporate responsibility. Arcadia is a vividly imagined planet with distinctive terrain and ecological challenges, and a complex political structure. To help readers navigate Arcadia, Jones includes a full character list and a glossary of key terms and measurements used on the planet. Fee and Caleb are strong lead characters whose eventual romance unfolds gradually but provides a solid emotional core to the second half of the book. But for a story built around a race against time, at more than 600 pages, the novel’s pacing is leisurely.
While the pacing fails to match the urgency of the central plot, the tale delivers a complex blend of ecological sci-fi and political thriller.