The Causal Angel (Jean le Flambeur #3)
By: Hannu Rajaniemi
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
With his infectious love of storytelling in all its forms, his rich characterisation and his unrivalled grasp of thrillingly bizarre cutting-edge science Hannu Rajaniemi has swiftly set a new benchmark for SF in the 21st century. And now with his third novel he completes the tale of his gentleman rogue, the many lives and minds of Jean de Flambeur.
Influenced as much by the fin de siecle novels of Maurice leBlanc as he is by the greats of SF Rajaniemi weaves, intricate, warm capers through dazzling science, extraordinary visions of wild future and deep conjecture on the nature of reality and story.
And now we find out what will happen to Jean, his employer Mieli, the independently minded ship Perhonen and the rest of a fractured and diverse humanity flung through the solar system.
And here we are, at the last book in the Jena le Flambeur trilogy. I’ve greatly enjoyed the first two books in the series (see author tag) even though I admit at times some of the hard science with the mathematical/statistical theories went over my head. Ideally I should’ve revisited the first two books before reading the final volume, but I think I remembered enough to just jump in head-on to the story. May contain some spoilers to the trilogy!
It took a chapter or two to get my bearings on the story and where Jean and Mieli were after the events of The Fractal Prince (review) but I slipped back into the plot quite quickly from there. These two characters spent much of the novel apart, reeling from events from the last book and the larger implications of the Sorbonost, the zoku, and everyone else involved in the fate of the Solar System. I admit, it did feel a little off for a while, like something was missing, and then I remembered what happened to their ship, Perhonen :3 The ship really kept the duo together and everything despite of Jean and Mieli really coming from different backgrounds and having different approaches to their situation on hand.
This book does feel a lot more epic than the first two books in that it really brings together all the sides of the conflict into the fold, with Jean on one side and Mieli dealing with the zoku and everything coming into the middle. Planets are destroyed, spacial objects are stolen, parallel universes emerge, it’s all just pretty mad. But it also goes full circle as Jean and Mieli come to terms with themselves and the decisions they had made in the past (or by their past/alternative/secondary selves). I love the throwback to the first novel (the climax of the novel and the last scene have to be, hands down, my favourite of the series).
Again, yeah, some of the abstract theories just go over my head, but it didn’t stop me from having fun reading The Causal Angel. It was the perfect conclusion to quite a bold and imaginative series. if you’re looking for something different in your science fiction, I cannot recommend the Jean le Flambeur trilogy enough 🙂