I have to admit being disappointed in Geoff Ryman’s The Warrior Who Carried Life. Unlike much of his later work, especially The King’s Last Song, I very much felt The Warrior Who Carried Life demonstrated a writer finding their way in their art. There were long passages which were clumsy in execution, too much exposition, in my opinion, and a lack of deep character development. Dialogue often had speech qualifiers which were indicative of a novice, which for me, as an editor as well as a writer, was a bit cringe-worthy.
The elements of the fantastic were almost too fantastic, in that Ryman failed to work a deft trail from the known to the unknown for the reader, or put another way failed to fully realize the complex and eldtritch world of the alien creatures known as the Galu, and the magic-steeped humans who are subjugated by them. Even the element which sets the world aright, the Flower, wasn’t fully realized, a nebulous concept both to the characters and the reader. The same could be said of the Galu themselves. One comes away with an impression of black worms inhabiting humans, but in other passages that concept is contradicted. Or perhaps this reader was too obtuse. There is always that possibility.
Along with the overall narrative of good versus evil, he obliquely explores the concepts of transgender identity, albeit with a not-so-deft hand.
Environmental detail is sparse, which further alienated this reader, because it created a feeling of disconnect, of watching a film on green screen which as yet hadn’t had background filled in with CGI.
The Warrior Who Carried Life isn’t a bad novel. But neither is it a great one. Read as you wish. Your mileage may vary. And that is the beauty of art.