Ian McDonald: Luna, New Moon

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I received a free physical copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

The moon wants to kill you.

She has a thousand ways to do it. The bitter cold of vacuum. The lethal sleet of radiation. Choking dust as old as the earth. Your weakening bones.

Or you could run out of money for water. Or air. Or simply run foul of one of the Five Dragons, the corporations that rule the Moon and control its vast resources.

But you stay, because the moon can make you richer than you can imagine.

Until war breaks out . . .


The first in the Luna series by Ian McDonald, Luna: New Moon sets up the story of five major families that live on and dominate the society, politics, and culture of the moon. When an engineered bot attempts to assassinate a key figure in one of the families, the politics of the moon shift exponentially with old rivalries rising to the surface and leaving everyone questioning who they can, and cannot, trust. Marketed as being Game of Thrones set in space, Luna is a science-fiction series filled with sex, politics, culture and family rivalries resulting in multiple deaths, assassinations, and questionable motives.

Within the first few pages I could immediately feel the similarities with Game of Thrones. On page two, before we are properly introduced to any characters, we are presented with information on sexual encounters with the current character in question. McDonald doesn’t subtly describe these interactions but throws it out in the limelight – this is a culture and society where sex, of any kind, is not frowned upon or deemed inappropriate. As we progress through the novel we see an array of sexualities and sexual encounters that proves this all the more. The warring families is also on a parallel with Game of Thrones but I felt like there wasn’t as much blood, guts, and gore but, when there was, McDonald didn’t hold back.

With the technology of the future and the ways in which these people are enhanced through genetics, the use of their AIs and more, I also felt that there were some similarities to the Red Rising series. I felt this more at the beginning of the novel than at any other point but I can also see this in the warring families and the subsequent events, particularly towards the end.

Something that can be quite hard to get around, especially in Game of Thrones, is the multitude of characters that provide the story and help us to understand the world. It can get quite confusing with the many different family members and the ways in which the families have married into each other. McDonald provides a handy glossary that helps to understand the different terms and their meanings which really helped to understand who each character was and how they were connected to each other. I definitely felt that there were a couple of more stand-out characters that I was more drawn to than others. However, I also really appreciated the variety of personalities we got with all the different characters; you had the quiet, authoritative, the sexual, the fighters, and so on. It helped to provide, not just animosity between the houses, but animosity within the families themselves.

Luna is one of those novels that, though you can’t binge-read (well, I certainly can’t) due to how much is going on, is a thoroughly enjoyable novel with so many twists and turns and hidden secrets. The novel is full of scandal, mystery, action, romance, guilt, revenge and so much more. It is a novel, and series, that I have become fully invested in and fulfills everything that I gain from Game of Thrones. Though it holds similarities, it is different and unique in its setting and the ways in which these families fight against each other, alongside the laws, politics, and cultures of this new society.

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