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Irenicon: Book 1 of the Wave Trilogy (The Wave Trilogy #1) Hardcover – April 1, 2014

3.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Add some time-controlling kung fu nuns, a terrible prison of dark waters and lightning, and a young kickass Contessa, and you've got a pretty good time on your hands."―Geek Smash

"An excellent piece of world-building by someone with a real feel for renaissance Italy... To sum up, Harte is a brilliant new voice in historical fantasy, and this is quite simply the best piece of fantasy that I have read so far this year."―Lawrence Osborne, Interzone

"Harte's use of descriptive language is absolutely haunting. I didn't think anyone could write chapters and chapters about building a bridge and make it sound epic, perilous, and romantic. He can literally make a tree stump sound inviting."―Fanboy Comics

"This leaves me seriously impressed both by the quality of the ideas and the ingenuity with which they are explored in the text.... Irenicon is completely fascinating, leaving us poised on a wholly unexpected note as a new temporary balance in the power structures is achieved."―David Marshall, Thinking About Books

Best Alternate History Novel, BookPlank

"Irenicon is a fantastical mash up of traditional fantasy and elements of steampunk and military histories. The story sucks you in immediately, and then hauls you along for the ride while Harte weaves a tale that's engrossing and fulfilling... The world that Harte has created here is full and rich with amazing detail of martial styles and the emergence of the worlds engineers. You can almost feel the world teetering on the precipice between the older hand-to-hand combat styles and the new combat styles devised by the engineers."―Novelnaut

"The book is a fountain of gorgeous detail, festooned with enriching codices and enlightening, subtly subsumed exposition. Well written and conceived, we look forward to Harte's future works with relish."―Sci-Fi Now

"If there were stars for world-building, Irenicon would be a five-plus, no question. Harte brings a level of intelligence to the book that's impressive."―Jon Courtnay Grimwood, SFX

About the Author

Aidan Harte was born in Kilkenny, studied sculpture at the Florence Academy of Art, and currently works as a sculptor in Dublin. He has also worked in animation and TV, and in 2006 created the show Skunk Fu, which has appeared on several channels around the world, including the Cartoon Channel.

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Product Details

  • Series: The Wave Trilogy #1
  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books (April 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1623650399
  • ISBN-13: 978-1623650391
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.6 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,834,790 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I love when a book that wasn't on my radar comes my way and takes me by surprise. This is exactly what happened with Irenicon by Aidan Harte. I had heard of the book, recognized the cover, but honestly didn't know much about it. When I took a closer look and realized that the main protagonist was actually female and the storyline sounded exactly like something I would normally enjoy, I had to give it a chance.

This book reminds me a bit of K. J. Parker in the level of politics and strategizing that is going on behind the scenes. It has a younger feel to it than I got when reading The Folding Knife, and much more in the way of fantastical elements, but I appreciate the world building, the inter-feuding and strategizing that Harte set up.

A river of unnatural water that was unleashed upon Rasenna by rivals divides the city. The river rules the city and keeps the residents in fear because beneath the surface lies unnatural creatures that will carry anyone who ventures too close to their death. And just to keep the residents on their toes, keep them from feeling too safe away from the water, occasionally, one breaks free of the river and will walk the streets. They are kind like a water based zombie, drowning anyone who happens to cross its path.

The people here are raised to fight. They fight Concord, they fight each other (north side versus south side). The city has two predominant families that are in a constant power struggle. Enter out protagonist, Sofia. She is the last living heir to what has been the most powerful family in Rasenna. When she comes of age in the not so distant future, she is will become Contessa of Rasenna. A powerful position, and Sofia has a powerful personality to go with it.
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Format: Hardcover
As someone who very rarely reads fiction, I approached Irenicon (a brick of a tome at 600 pages) with a certain amount of trepidation, but the promise of multi-storey kung fu fighting with flags was enough for me to allay my misgivings.

The world of Irenicon is lovingly and attentively crafted. Here Herod was successful in murdering Christ as a child, and the subsequent parallel world that we find ourselves in is a fascinatingly skewed one - plausible enough to allow us to suspend our disbelief, colourful enough to let its characters breathe.

Speaking of which, the inhabitants of Irenicon's world are generally well faceted - as complex as they need to be, and likeable. A couple of the secondary characters are compelling enough that they would probably hold their own as leading protagonists if the story had been told from their perspective.

I suspect that one of the strengths of the book is that it is layered and fantastical enough to appeal to beards of all lengths. It's an Italian-flavoured Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and the action is dynamic and gutsy as hell, but when the dust settles, we're still in a complex and lovingly sculpted world, following intelligent, often funny, and multi-dimensional characters through a twisting, surprising story that stands on its own two feet, whilst promising a whole lot for the next book of the trilogy.
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Format: Paperback
Aidan Harte’s debut novel Irenicon is a mostly impressive beginning to his WAVE trilogy, its richly detailed world, tense plot, and subtle mix of science and magic offsetting some issues of pace, structure, and character sufficiently enough so that I plan on continuing right on with its sequel The Warring States, which just arrived last week.

Irenicon is set in a somewhat off kilter Renaissance Italy, where centuries earlier Herod’s slaughter of children actually worked, killing Jesus Christ as an infant and leaving Mary to become the focal point of a still pervasive but not quite as dominant religion. In this world, Concord, not Rome, rose as the foremost city of a large Empire, and the almost-Catholic Church was supplanted by natural philosophy in a kind of alternate Reformation, led by Girolamo Bernoulli, and his Engineers Guild, who became the dominant force of the Empire. The Guild’s technological advancements keep Concord in power, and in particularly, one horrible weapon called The Wave. A few decades ago (1347) the Wave was used to subdue a powerful rival city, Rasenna, by blasting the river Irenicon to smash through the center of the city, devastating its core and splitting the city in two.

Even before the deployment of the Wave, Rasenna’s citizens were known for their prickly, violent factionalism, and the bifurcation of the city by the river only made things worse. Now, the only crossings between North and South (difficult to do as there are no bridges spanning the river and the river is inhabited by “buio”, deadly water spirits) are for raiding purposes, to kill other family factions or burn out their towers, even as the non-aristocrats — the “Small People” — suffer.

At the center of the Rasenna fighting are two major families.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Irenicon is a book that had to grow no me. Not necessarily due to the story, but more because of the structure in the very beginning of the book. The first few chapters confused me immensely. I didn’t understand what was going on or what it was supposed to introduce me to.

More and more, as the story unfolded and the world building got more extensive, the story grew on me. A quarter in I was hooked.
It has been said about this book before, it is even stated on the cover, but the world building is absolutely fantastic. The culture Harte has created here is stunning and very special. It represents an old alternate Italy, with Italian sounding names and the Mediterranean climate. Rasenna, the stage for the most part of this story, is special in its own peculiar ways. The most prominent thing is the artificially made river who destroyed part of the city years before. The river was sent as a Wave by the engineers of Concord, as a way to conquer them. The fact that the river is artificial isn’t the most special thing about it though, it is sentient. Or rather, it contains sentient beings, that the people call buio’s. Sometimes these beings escape the river and roam the streets, drowning everyone they encounter. It seems only one woman, a nun, is able to lead them back to the river.
Water and these creatures play an important role throughout the book. When we are introduced to the mysterious ‘Water style’ it really challenges you to keep an open mind and think differently about something as basic as water.

The river in itself is important, but what it left in its wake is even more so. The river has divided Rasenna in two sides, literally and figuratively speaking. Because when the river destroyed part of the city, their leader perished as well.
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