The novel “Luna: Moon Rising” by Ian McDonald was published for the first time in 2019. It’s the third novel in the Luna series and follows “Luna: Wolf Moon“.
The clash among the Five Dragons, the most powerful families of the Moon, is heading towards a final showdown that will decide who will have power over lunar resources. The struggle for power, however, extended beyond the Moon because even on Earth there are factions that have agendas based on great changes in the management of those resources.
In a place where everything can be the subject of agreements and contracts, complex networks of interpersonal relationships determine alliances and rivalries but even within the various families there are complex relationships. Covert manipulations are as common as open clashes to carry out plans that will affect big changes in the Moon’s future.
“Luna: Moon Rising” reprises the plots told in the two previous books and together with them forms a single great story. It begins with a brief summary of the previous events but it’s useful to refresh the memory a little, certainly not to replace the real story of the complexities linked to the power struggle started on the Moon among the families that hold economic power.
Ian McDonald had already expanded the setting in “Luna: Wolf Moon” and started adding national and economic interests in general existing on Earth and their involvement in the power struggle on the Moon. In “Luna: Moon Rising” the development of this narrative element continues and the author adds some more, ranging from the importance of a lunar university pole which is also an important scientific research center to the more or less individual agendas existing even within each of the Five Dragons with different ideas for the Moon’s future.
If possible, this last book of the trilogy makes the various plots even more complex because the various intrigues developed in the two previous books generated on the Moon a situation that completely overturned balances that weren’t very stable but had held up for some time bringing big changes that no one knows when or how will end. Nothing will ever be the same on the Moon but what kind of new balance will be reached?
From the beginning of the trilogy, certain choices by Ian McDonald turned out to be quite clear, starting with the will to create a very rich and complex lunar society in the future while at the same time leaving many details to the reader’s imagination. The consequence is that the pace tends to be fast with a lot of action and twists, elements also used to forge many characters since the events in which they get involved have significant influences on their future.
This style makes reading this trilogy in some ways similar to a roller coaster ride with the difficulty of keeping important details in mind. There are so many agendas, machinations, love stories, rivalries, vendettas and more in the many characters’ stories, which intertwine in very diverse ways. On the other hand there are only three books and not even particularly long so you can read them in sequence or at least at a short distance from each other in a relatively short time.
This type of choice leads to very subjective reactions as some readers appreciate the fast pace chosen by Ian McDonald while others prefer works with greater depth and therefore with greater length and a slower pace. Personally I have to say that I would have liked a greater development of the connections with the terrestrial factions. “Luna: Moon Rising” has occasional moments of reflection, such as the consequences of accepting violence to settle disputes, and I would have liked to see more of those reflections because in my science fiction formation Frank Herbert’s influence was important.
The showdown among the various factions has an ending so “Luna: Moon Rising” gives an end to the trilogy, however it opens up new possibilities for the Moon’s future so I wouldn’t be surprised if Ian McDonald decided to write more novels with new story-arcs. Meanwhile, if you like these stories full of intrigue with the characteristics of this trilogy I recommend reading it.