the Little Red Reviewer

Arctic Rising, by Tobias S. Buckell

Posted on: March 12, 2012

Arctic Rising, by Tobias Buckell

Published in 2012

Where I got it: borrowed











Anika Duncan was just doing her job.  As an airship pilot for the United Nations Polar Guard, her job is to watch the waters. For drugs, human trafficking, and radioactive material. In the not too far future, the ice has started to melt, the Northwest Passage has opened, and floating bergs and barges all the up on the pole act as a loosely conglomerated not-country called Thule.

On a routine mission Anika’s instruments pick up something they shouldn’t. And then her airship is fired on, killing her co-pilot.  At first, the government goes all out to find her attackers and find out what they were smuggling, but before long the terrorists disappear and she’s told there was absolutely nothing on their ship.  But she knows what she saw on her instruments.  On the run and with few friends to help her, Anika heads north in hopes of learning what was on the ship and who her true friends are.

Once the action starts in this eco-thriller, it never stops.  Imagine a Bond movie where Bond and the beautiful ass-kicking Bond girl got melded into one character, and you’d have Anika Duncan. As a pilot with the UNPG, she can fly any airship and shoot any gun. She never backs down, and has no idea what she’s gotten herself into.  From the islands of Northern Canada and all points north, whoever thought so much could happen in the Arctic Circle?

Anika flees to her friend Violet, an unpredictable drug smuggler with internation contacts.  Anika and Violet have a bit of a history, and they certainly have feelings for each other, but it’s a trust thing. Violet is a smuggler, Anika until recently worked for the government. How far can they trust each other? Deep down, Violet is a shrewd business woman. Is her help now just a play for a larger favor later? And what about Violet’s friend Roo, the Caribbean spy who doesn’t seem to work for anyone, specifically? Trust issues be damned, the three of them better work together, and work fast.

First it’s thought the ship that fired on Anika was carrying radioactive waste, and then the guesses change to a nuclear warhead. But there is something far worse floating around the Arctic Circle than a warhead, something that could forever change the planet. And whoever controls this futuristic technology, can easily hold the world’s superpowers hostage.  Yes, there is a eco-political bent to Arctic Rising, but Buckell never once gets preachy.

I really wanted to love Arctic Rising. I wanted to enjoy the entire book as much as I enjoyed the dialog and the brilliantly unique technology that Buckell came up with, his Bond bad guy weapon that not even Q would know what to do with.  The idea of Thule, the wild wild West half melted iceberg Not-country of the pole was interesting as well. I actually wanted more Thule and more exposition of the political structure of that part of the planet than anything else. Like an action movie, Arctic Rising was non-stop movement and action, barely a moment to catch my breath and get to know Anika, who trust me, I really wanted to get to better.  And that’s where the book fell flat for me – too much action for my tastes, not enough foundation in the character development department.

But even it if was a little too action oriented for me, Arctic Rising was still a fun read. With so many door stopper clunksters and far flung epic series floating around, sometimes a stand alone action thriller is exactly what you need.



6 Responses to "Arctic Rising, by Tobias S. Buckell"

I just got my copy a few days ago, very much looking forward to reading it. Though not for you, it seems like a book right up my alley.


Your paragraph about the trust issues is spot on. Well, the whole review is great (even if we don’t 100% agree) but that paragraph is something I wish I’d put in my own review!


Great review! Thule sounds pretty awesome as an idea, and it’s a shame that it wasn’t expended upon.


Have this on my wishlist! sometimes action packed books are good to read once in a while 🙂


Glad to see you liked this one too:)


It does sound like a really fun read with a lot of elements to make it attractive. Your description of it makes me wish that it was indeed a movie on the slate to be seen rather than a book to read. Not that there is anything wrong with the book, I just like having Bond-esque flicks to go see.


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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