From the author's website...The world of Heven was populated, centuries ago, by Melanesian settlers from distant Earth. It is a peaceful, quiet world – yet it harbours ancient secrets.
Kai just wants to fly. But flying is the one thing forbidden on Heven – a world dominated by the mysterious, ever present clouds in the skies. What do they hide? For Kai, finding the answer might mean his death – but how far will you go to realise your dreams?
Set against the breathtaking vista of a world filled with mystery and magic, Cloud Permutations is a planetary romance with a unique South Pacific flavour, filled with mythic monsters, ancient alien artefacts, floating islands and a quest to find a legendary tower… whatever the cost.
"Cloud Permutations" lives up to the hype. I found myself caught up in the world from the start. It is a short book so it does not take long to read. "Planetary romance" is a classic form in science fiction. It describes a rousing adventure on another world. One of the old school authors of this genre was Leigh Brackett with her Eric John Stark adventures. I hope to read and review some of her work later this year. Tidhar does a solid job of settling up the mystery. You won't want to put this down once you start reading it.
While reading this story, I was taken back to 1976 and an issue of Analog that came in the mail. That issue featured a novella by George R. R. Martin and Lisa Tuttle that was called "The Storms of Windhaven". It was later expanded into a novel. The combination of Martin and Tuttle's styles hooked me with the first page. Both stories deal with someone who wants to fly on an alien world.
The two stories are different (Tidhar's stylistically is closer to a Cordwainer Smith tale) but both are excellent. Maybe more writers need to explore this type of planetary romance.