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Artemis Awakening delivers a suspenseful plot, complex characters, and meticulous world-building. Joe Barrett does a great job on the narration. I couldn't stop listening once I got started!
Griffin Dane, we discover, is an archeologist of the Indiana Jones variety: he set off for Artemis chasing the glory of rediscovering the mythic world that had been lost to intergalactic civilization for five hundred years. For him, this is the discovery of a lifetime... if he can ever get home again. His landing shuttle is a total loss, destroyed in a crash and buried in a rock slide.
For Andara the Huntress, finding Griffin’s wrecked shuttle is a startling discovery: off-world visitors are only distant memory passed down through the Lore of her people. Their planet was designed as an exclusive resort for tourists seeking to escape their hyper-evolved lives for a vacation in a simple pastoral setting, with all the comforts tourists could want supplied by hidden technology. However, a rival faction within the empire launched an attack on the seigneurs, or "seegnurs" as the Lore calls them. Nanobots in the atmosphere disrupted technology planetwide, and all of the seegnurs were slaughtered. Industrialization never took hold on Artemis because the nanobots continue to disrupt any technology more advanced than basic gears. They don't know what a machine looks like.
Griffin's chief quest in the book is to find a way to reactivate the seegnurs' technology to contact his orbiting ship. He travels with Andara and Terrell, another young man from Andara's village, to seek help from the Old One Who is Young. His avid interest in the seegnurs means that he is the most likely person to have the technology Griffin needs, but if the stories are true, much more is at stake than Griffin’s hope of returning home.
Adara is especially at risk because she was born with genetic adaptations from feline DNA: these types of altered people are the focus of a forced breeding program run by the Old One Who is Young in secret. Fortunately, she can rely on her puma companion, Sand Shadow, as an intelligent and capable partner. Her opposable thumbs and telepathic abilities are another legacy of the seegnurs' bioengineering.
The series has lots of possibility: there's Griffin's discovery process about Artemis; Andara's mixed feelings about Griffin and Terrell; and the disturbing ramifications of genetic manipulation, including hints about sentience on Artemis beyond the humans and adapted animals. Bring on book two!
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