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The Cloud Roads (The Books of the Raksura) Paperback – March 1, 2011

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Product Details

  • Series: The Books of the Raksura
  • Paperback: 300 pages
  • Publisher: Night Shade Books (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597802166
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597802161
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (171 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #574,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Moon's world is populated by many different intelligent species (none of them human), and he has never known which one he belongs to. Orphaned at a young age, he's wandered from tribe to tribe, hiding a dangerous secret. Like the universally hated Fell, whose only aims are slaughter and conquest, Moon can fly—which leads to predictably violent cases of mistaken identity. When he does find his own people, the Raksura, life doesn't get any easier, since their internal politics are vicious, and they too are in imminent danger from the Fell. Cue hairsbreadth escapes and feats of derring-do, as Moon helps his new family evacuate their doomed colony and then rescues a group of kidnapped children. Wells (The Gate of Gods) merrily ignores genre conventions as she spins an exciting adventure around an alien hero who anyone can identify with. (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


But the vivid world-building and nonstop action really serve as a backdrop for the heart of the novel--the universal human themes of loneliness, loss, and the powerful drive to find somewhere to belong. - Sharon Shinn --Cover Blurb

There's so much to like here: multiple sapient species sharing a world (or NOT sharing) with complex gender roles, wildly differing societies, and varying technologies. This is rigorous fantasy without the trappings of European medievalism. And most of all, it's riveting storytelling.- Steven Gould, author of Jumper

The Cloud Roads has wildly original worldbuilding, diverse and engaging characters, and a thrilling adventure plot. It's that rarest of fantasies: fresh and surprising, with a story that doesn't go where ten thousand others have gone before. I can't wait for my next chance to visit the Three Worlds! - N.K. Jemisin, author of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

More About the Author

Martha Wells is the author of over a dozen fantasy novels, including Wheel of the Infinite, City of Bones, The Element of Fire, and the Nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer. Her most recent fantasy novels are The Cloud Roads (Night Shade Books, March 2011), The Serpent Sea (Night Shade Books, January 2012), and The Siren Depths, (Night Shade Books, December 2012). Her YA fantasies, Emilie and the Hollow World and Emilie and the Sky World, were published by Strange Chemistry Books in April 2013 and April 2014, and her Star Wars novel, Razor's Edge, was published in October 2013.

She has also written a fantasy trilogy: The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air, and The Gate of Gods, all currently out in paperback from HarperCollins Eos. She has had short stories in the magazines Black Gate, Realms of Fantasy, Lone Star Stories, Lightspeed Magazine, and Stargate Magazine, and in the anthologies Elemental, The Other Side of the Sky, and Tales of the Emerald Serpent. She has essays in the nonfiction anthologies Farscape Forever, Mapping the World of Harry Potter, and Chicks Unravel Time. She has also written two media-tie-in novels, Stargate Atlantis: Reliquary and Stargate Atlantis: Entanglement. Her books have been published in eight languages, including French, Spanish, German, Russian, and Dutch, and her web site is

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I definitely look forward to reading the next book.
This rich and well imagined fantasy book invites readers to explore a new world which is inhabited by strange beings.
"Seregil of Rhiminee"
"The Cloud Roads" is a great read, with well developed characters and an interesting story.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

76 of 78 people found the following review helpful By mare on March 9, 2011
Format: Paperback
Martha Wells writes awesome books - I buy them, sight unseen, without even a thought of chasing them down through the library. I know I will read and reread. But it's been a good long time since her last book was published, and I'd lost hope.

"The Cloud Roads" was well worth the wait. Ms. Wells creates a fascinating world (though I remember another world with floating islands, I think in a book by Wen Spencer) with a fascinating mix of species. Better yet are her characters. The protagonist, Moon, has been lost and isolated from his own species since he was extremely young, and has moved from one culture and species to another, trying to fit in and find a place for himself. He has become expert at sizing up new groups, evaluating their customs and practices and adapting his own behavior to theirs. But he is never able to fully expose who he is, because his species bears an unfortunate likeness to the predators feared throughout the world for their mindless destruction of any and all species they come across. So when Moon encounters his own species, he is wary and mistrustful, reluctant to accept overtures of friendship and welcome.

Ms. Wells does her usual expert job of developing character while maintaining a breakneck pace. The book is engrossing and hard to put down, and has left me with a taste for more...even though (thank you, thank you - I am so tired of contrived cliff-hangar endings and series that extend forever) it a a story complete and to itself.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Sarah on February 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is a terrific science fiction adventure story with a heart.

Moon doesn't know what he is. He's been trying to live with other people, but they don't look like him (most of the various races in this world are physically different from each other), and unlike them, he can shift into another shape, one with wings, a fact he conceals because the winged shape looks something like the Fell, an evil race bent on conquering and consuming the other races. When his secret is revealed, Moon must not only discover who he is and his new place in the world, but he must strive to help his people, the Raksuran, deal with the Fell, who have been pursuing him for longer than he realizes.

As you can see from my summary, the book presents great internal and external conflicts. One of the things I appreciated most is that it's science fiction with nifty skiffy ideas, but it doesn't sacrifice characterization (internal) for the development of the ideas (external), as so much SF does. The external story, the adventure and peril involved in dealing with the Fell, is perfectly balanced by Moon's internal story--one of my favorite tropes, the lonely person finding his/her place in the world story.

That said, some of the secondary characters felt a little indistinguishable to me--the death of one of them near the end left me unmoved--but the main characters, Moon, Jade, Stone, and Pearl--are deftly realized, their stories gripping. Moon's predicament is particularly compelling. I was interested in the social structure of both the world, in which various races coexist, and of Moon's people, who are ruled by queens. The relationship between the sexes here is alien, and really interesting. Not exactly matriarchal, but something else.
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39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By tsutsuji on August 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
I went into The Cloud Roads really excited. I'm a fan of unusual settings and worlds, and I had never read a book featuring reptillian shapeshifters before. I can only re-read "The Left Hand of Darkness" so many times; I was eager for another author to take me to a world I'd never seen, with characters both unique and lovable. I was eager for a story that, as Ms. Sharon Shinn said, would remind me why I love to read. And for the first chapter or so, I thought I'd found that story. I loved reading about Moon, the subdued, everyman outcast with whose loneliness and inner solitude I could really sympathize. And the world of The Cloud Roads does indeed transcend the tropes of ordinary sci-fi quite satisfyingly. I like Ms. Wells' writing style: it's simple and straightforward [at times almost too much so], but more than adequate to communicate what the story calls for.

Unfortunately, as the book continued, I found that the unique setting and likable main character weren't enough to sustain my interest. I would have loved the story had it focused solely on Moon and his adventures, but the author instead chose to bring in a cast of secondary characters who were frankly dull and forgettable. The Fell, demonic baddies and scourges of the world where Moon lives, failed to be as frightening as everyone in the book claimed they were. Rather, reading about them felt like watching a stiffly-performed puppet show--there was no excitement, no sense of danger or malice. And Moon's allies are just as bland; their dialogue shows little variation, and they all blend together after awhile. Even Moon's love interest, Jade, didn't demonstrate the depth of characterization necessary to make me root for her.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Laura on February 24, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've loved everything Wells writes and this one is, once again, amazing. Vivid, extremely creative and powerful world-building, a strong and enticing main character, excellently realized secondary characters, and a great romantic relationship to top it off. Moon is a wonderful character. I highly recommend this book, as all her books.
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