The Sunless Countries is Canadian writer Karl Schroeder’s fourth venture into the wild world of Virga. Virga exists in deep space as a self contained world that has no gravity. People live in steampunk cities where gravity is created by rocket engines pulling town wheels in different directions. Technology is limited. Man made fusion reactors serve as small suns. The first three Virga novels followed the adventures of Chaison and Venera Fanning who are nowhere to be found in the newest entry. Hayden Griffen, last seen in Sun of Suns makes his return.
The sunless countries exist deep inside Virga in an area called Abyss. The book largely follows historian Leal Maspeth as her home city is in the midst of a political change by a group called Eternists who think nothing exists outside of Virga. Leal meets and becomes involved in a way with Hayden Griffen as both race to figure out what is going on amidst attacks by what people are calling a monster.
Much like David Gunn’s Day of the Damned, Schroeder takes what you know about Virga and turns it on it’s head in the third act. This book clearly marks a change in direction for the series as we go far beyond the skin of Virga to see just what is hiding out there. Schroeder is a dazzling world builder and I cannot wait to see what he does with Virga next.