REVIEW: Reclamation by Richard Swan

Last Updated on March 8, 2024

In Reclamation by Richard Swan, I have found a sci-fi series that scratches that itch left over from The Expanse. Having recently finished Swan’s brilliant fantasy novel The Tyranny of Faith I found myself wanting more of something that was just packed with awesomeness and fun to read. Reclamation delivered what I enjoy reading in absolute spades.

Cover for Reclamation by Richard SwanReclamation is the story of the escalation of political conflict driven in a hundred directions by a range of competing factions. This book is a mixture of political intrigue, espionage, and brutal military conflict. It is a story about biting off more than you can chew, and of the large and powerful becoming rather small and weak. The galaxy is colonised, other species have been met and treated with, but even as humanity has grown into the stars, the things that make humans brilliant to write about because of the conflicts created by our arrogance, greed, and stupidity remain.

Lyra is the salvaged head of a UN secret agent (yes, you read that right) who is the starting point for an interstellar incident, and the first storyteller to help us understand the multilayered tale Swan writes. Vondur is a Goliath pilot (I pictured these as epic mech-warriors) we are introduced to during the first major conflict between humankind and the provar (a large and brutal warrior caste species) since they signed their last treaty. He is the lens through which we generally see the military impact of the story. Yano is a diplomat / special envoy heading to a summit called to resolve Provar and Kaygrin (a more insect-like species, weaker and seemingly taken advantage of by both Provar and humanity) hostilites. He’s in the middle of two factions who hate each other at a level he cannot understand, and a hard nosed UN president primarily concerned with what the last few months of his term will leave as his legacy.

In addition to these key characters, a range of further POVs tell the story. All are important, none wasted, and they move the story forward at a Matthew Reilly pace.

Swan uses mystery, character, factional perspective, and misdirection brilliantly to build story. And if he managed this level of layering eight years ago self publishing this series, it’s no bloody wonder he’s achieved what he has with the first two novels of The Empire of the Wolf (The Justice of Kings 2022, The Tyranny of Faith 2023) once he was picked up by Orbit. Reclamation contains utterly magnificent storytelling as we follow the downward spiral of a galaxy.

Reclamation is a magnificent book with an abrupt ending that is either going to leave you throwing the book across the room in frustration, or sitting there smiling and envisaging the repercussions. That is, until you realise book two is already there, waiting for you.

Brilliantly told at a lightning fast pace, and layered with everything fans of space opera, military fantasy, and The Expanse love, Reclamation is a magnificent read that grimdark fans will enjoy. I cannot recommend it enough. Even better? All three books of The Art of War trilogy, a prequel, and two short stories are all already published and waiting for you–and if you’re anything like me, you’re going to want to read them all back-to-back.

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Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins

Adrian Collins runs Grimdark Magazine and loves anything to do with telling darker stories. Doesn't matter the format, or when it was published or produced--just give him a grim story told in a dark world by a morally grey protagonist and this bloke's in his happy place. Add in a barrel aged stout to sip on after a cheeky body surf under the Australian sun, and that's his heaven.