3 Bells – luna: new moon (Ian McDonald) Book 1 – It’s Sci-Fi Month!

Ahoy me mateys!  Grab your grog!  Here be book 1 of the seventh installment of the 3 Bells trilogy showcase.  Arrrr!!!

luna: new moon (Ian McDonald)

Damn.  That was me first thought upon finishing this truly excellent book.  I know this review won’t do it justice but I ended up loving this.  I was instantly engrossed by the beginning of this novel and the wicked cool right-of-passage event.  But then I became a tad worried because the POVs started jumping around quite a bit and there weren’t chapter breaks when the viewpoints switched.  I had to backtrack a couple of times and wasn’t completely sure what was going on at first but I loved the set-up and was determined to go with the flow.  It didn’t take too long and I am glad I didn’t give up.

The world-building in this novel is just exquisite.  One of the first things that ye learn is that the moon is run by five corporate families that be collectively known as the Five Dragons.  The Corta Hélio family is the latest addition to the bunch and is still seen as upstarts despite several moon-born generations.  These corporations control every aspect of moon life where literally everything has a price.  Residents have to pay for the four commodities, the Elements, that dictate the economy – air, water, carbon, and data.  As one character states “Nothing tells you that you are not on Earth anymore than exhaling at one price and inhaling at another.”

But the Elements are only one intriguing (if terrifying) aspect of life on the moon.  I absolutely loved the court system.  The basic law is that the contract rules.  Again everything has a price.  The court system is kinda farcical in ideation but then also works in practice.  For example ye can hire yer own judges or win cases by a fight to the death.  Hard to explain and seriously weird but cool.

Other fun aspects: I loved the mixture of languages sprinkled throughout the book.  Unlike in chilling effect, I could get meaning of the words through context even though there is a glossary at the back of the book for marriage customs and corporate titles.  I didn’t use it but read through them at the end.  I also loved how harsh life on the moon’s surface was, the different habits of the five families, the complicated and interesting politics, the different types of cities and living quarters, the diversity, the sexual freedoms, and even the weird retro fashion trends.

There were a ton of characters in this.  I skipped the character list because I always be wary of spoilers but I counted after the fact and it lists 65 people by family affiliations.  Though some of those listed are repeats because of marriages.  Don’t worry though, there are not 65 POVs!  Most of the focus is on about 9 Corta Hélio family members though there is an Earth-born employee in the mix.  All of these people were very well defined and absolutely fun to follow.  It be hard to pick a favourite even though I wanted to smack many of them for bad behavior or stupidity at times.  Ultimately I be team Corta Hélio.  I want all of them to succeed so badly despite their individual quirks and flaws.

This book also manages to do something hard – it be character driven and yet the plot be complexly written with a large scale.  And it works.  The build-up starts slow but is full of action, intrigue, assassination attempts, messy relationships, politics, character growth, and plot twists I didn’t see coming.  In addition ye also get backstory on the company matriarch’s past and the founding of the company.  The ending seriously rocked too!

The only minor gripe is that I could have done without the sex scenes but I still can’t wait to find out what happens next.  Check in tomorrow for what me thinks of book two.  Arrrr!

Side note: Sci-Fi Month is hosted by Matey Lisa of Dear Geek Place and Matey Imyril of One More.  Check out their blog links for more info and join the fun!

Goodreads has this to say about the novel:

The Moon wants to kill you.

Maybe it will kill you when the per diem for your allotted food, water, and air runs out, just before you hit paydirt. Maybe it will kill you when you are trapped between the reigning corporations-the Five Dragons-in a foolish gamble against a futuristic feudal society. On the Moon, you must fight for every inch you want to gain. And that is just what Adriana Corta did.

As the leader of the Moon’s newest “dragon,” Adriana has wrested control of the Moon’s Helium-3 industry from the Mackenzie Metal corporation and fought to earn her family’s new status. Now, in the twilight of her life, Adriana finds her corporation-Corta Helio-confronted by the many enemies she made during her meteoric rise. If the Corta family is to survive, Adriana’s five children must defend their mother’s empire from her many enemies… and each other.

To visit the author’s website go to:

Ian McDonald – Author

To buy the book go to:

luna: new moon – Book

To add to Goodreads go to:

Yer Ports for Plunder List

13 thoughts on “3 Bells – luna: new moon (Ian McDonald) Book 1 – It’s Sci-Fi Month!

  1. Ooooh. Color me intrigued. I’m so glad that this review is the start of a 3 Bells series, as I don’t like to read series books if the series isn’t completed. I haven’t heard of this before and I’m in dire need of some quality science fiction! Where did you hear of this series? What made you decide to pick it up?


  2. A cracking review of a lovely series, Cap! I, too, love the worldbuilding and the way this story gradually builds. I don’t know if you were aware – but McDonald has called this series ‘A Game of Domes’ which I think nicely sums up the power-obsessed main families…


  3. I own the ebook of the first one of these, but hadn’t heard much about it before. (I think I got it as a promo? Or something? I don’t remember buying it.) It sounds really good based on your review, though, and now I’m excited to read it!


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