Title: Stories of the Raksura, Volume 2: The Dead City & The Dark Earth Below
Author: Martha Wells
The second collection of Raksura stories has two novellas and a few shorter works. The Raksura are, for the newcomer, a shapeshifting race who have a humanlike groundling form and a winged and scaled flying form. Since I love stories about people that fly and shapeshifters, I’ve been having a lot of fun with all their books. The best part is that Wells has crafted a unique society for them, in a world full of nontraditional creatures.
The Dead City – This is set before The Cloud Roads, when Moon is fleeing the Fell. As one of the two novellas, it has a longer plot. One of the things I appreciate most about Well’s work is how inventive she is with the alien species, and how they’re not just random bits of parts but there’s glimpses of their lifestyles and societies.
The three short stories in the middle were (and perhaps still are) freely available on Martha Well’s homepage, so I had read them before. I still appreciate getting them in print.
The Dark Earth Below – The second novella, and the longer one. Jade is pregnant with Moon’s first clutch, and as Moon is stressing out about being a new father, unexpected trouble finds the colony. Again, more delightful alien races, a deeper picture of Raksuran society, Moon in top form killing things and Jade being clever despite being indisposed . . .
Given how strongly these are linked to the Raksuran trilogy (starting with The Cloud Road) this is interesting as a standalone but best read in conjunction with the series. It does, after all, provide both background and future for Moon. I rate this book Recommended.