After my poor experience with Brothers of the Snake, a new novel by Alastair Reynolds seemed exactly what I needed. At first glance, however, Eversion seems a little different to his other work; the scope is somewhat smaller and the tone is less big concept sci-fi and more of an intimate character study. It is a book that takes a while to get going - the first few chapters following the surgeon of a sloop heading to explore Arctic waters are reminiscent of Patrick O'Brian and are seemingly more concerned with building atmosphere than developing a narrative - but it eventually slips into the familiar pattern of always having to wonder what, if anything, is as it at first seems; there's something mysterious out there in the ice, and some of the members of the ship seem to have foreknowledge of what is to come.
Eventually, the narrative starts to repeat itself, with the same characters re-enacting the same events, only with slight differences of setting and destination. This is something that Reynolds normally writes very well, always dropping hints as to what the underlying reality is, but never quite giving it away; there's usually a moment in his books, around two thirds of the way in, that you suddenly 'get it' only to realise a few chapters later that something entirely different is going on. In Eversion, however, the repetition that hints at underlying truths drags on a little too long, and the revelations, when they do come, are not as earth shattering as those of previous novels. This is something I have never said about an Alastair Reynolds book before, but Eversion would not have suffered from being a little shorter.
Despite this small criticism, I still thoroughly enjoyed the book. It is initially a very different piece of writing from his usual work, but Reynolds still manages to write it beautifully; his prose is as excellent as ever and, while the plot may not be as riveting as some of his previous work, the characters are once again deep and intriguing.