Erin Bow’s The Swan Riders is the sequel to The Scorpion Rules. In a post-apocalyptic world, AIs rule and young royals are kept hostage to ensure peace throughout the world. Greta was once a hostage and now she has become an AI. If she can survive the transition, she will stand alongside Talis, the most feared AI who rules the world and keeps everyone in line. In this novel, it explores the magnificent Swan Riders in great length, sharing their conception and their rituals. They are Talis’s devoted human army. After Greta’s transformation from human to AI, a rebellion sparks. Talis and a pair of Swan Riders begin on a trek to headquarters to ensure her survival.
I really had high hopes for this novel. I had enjoyed The Scorpion Rules, but The Swan Riders was as disappointing as a deflated balloon. It was a tedious read. The pacing was awful, making it almost unbearable to continue reading the story. Each destination or scene felt like it was merely a checkpoint or something to cross off the author’s to-do list. There were no smooth transitions. The characters moved from one spot to the next, having conversations I didn’t quite care for. Looking back at the novel in its entirety, it felt like nothing really happened. There was nothing memorable about it.
The only thing I did enjoy in this novel, like I did in the first book, was Talis. He’s a bizarre, wacky villain. He’s quite the colourful character. I would read a novel solely revolving around his story. In the first novel, Greta was barely likable as a human and once she transformed into an AI, I felt like I couldn’t connect with her nor like her as a character anymore. A lot of the characters felt too two-dimensional to me. There wasn’t anyone I cared about or rooted for, except Talis. During the course of this novel, not even Talis could truly save the story with everything it lacked.
The most frustrating thing was Greta’s love interest Xie is faded out from the start of this novel. I adored their relationship in The Scorpion Rules. It was refreshing to see two princesses find love, instead of Greta finding Prince Charming. But The Swan Riders takes a very confusing turn when Greta seems to almost forget about Xie and suddenly realize a love for Elian. It felt like a betrayal and an odd choice. The ending left me confused. Quite frankly, halfway through the novel, I was almost ready to give up on it but I forced myself to finish it.
Erin Bow’s The Swan Riders was very disappointing. I cannot say I’d recommend it to anyone. If you’ve read The Scorpion Rules and would like to know what happens next, read The Swan Riders at your own risk.
*Disclosure: An advance reading copy was provided from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions within this review are solely my own, not that of the publisher or the author.