Hot on the heels of the second book in the Wormwood trilogy, The Rosewater Insurrection, comes the final, stunning volume – The Rosewater Redemption. This trilogy, which started with Thompson’s 2019 Arthur C Clarke winning debut Rosewater, has continued to get weirder and more intriguing and the finale is no exception. For those who have not yet encountered this trilogy, suffice to say that the final volume is not the place to start. There is a prologue of sorts that catches readers up with where all of the major players are, but making sense of this takes a level of knowledge that can only be gained by reading the previous volumes. For those who want to fo back and read those volumes, this review contains some minor spoilers.
In The Rosewater Insurrection, it was revealed that the slow alien invasion that had created the global shared mental space of the xenosphere was only the precursor of a completely different form of invasion, one in which the minds of a distant alien race (the Homians) could be downloaded into the bodies of resurrected humans. While the mayor of the town of Rosewater, Jack Jacques has reached a détente with the aliens, it is becoming increasingly clear that the Homians are intent on a complete takeover of Earth and its inhabitants. The scene is quickly set for a last desperate attempt by a disparate but loosely connected force to stymie the alien plans.
All of the characters from the previous novels are back and all have critical parts to play. While the narrative shifts across a range of points of view, central to the action and narrative in this volume is Oyin Da, also known as the Bicycle Girl. Oyin Da is a character who previously appeared to be able to travel through time but whose true nature is revealed early on in this volume.
The final volume of the Wormwood trilogy once again confirms Tade Thompson as a leading light in modern science fiction. Thompson manages to play with and in a number of fairly common science fiction tropes including alien invasion, body swapping, artificial intelligence, time travel and mind control and makes them new again. He uses his Nigerian setting and a series of conflicted characters in a mind-bending scenario to explore issues of colonisation, politics and the nature of humanity. All of this within a carefully choreographed scenario of barely controlled chaos and destruction in which the stakes are kept high and none of the characters ever feel safe or protected. And even when all the action is over, Thompson leaves plenty of ethical conundrums to chew on. You can’t ask for more than that.