An epic space opera of the titanic conflict of several galactic civilizations against a life-destroying force of shadows, a dark cosmic force that has swept through the undercurrents of the human interstellar empire.
The intertwined plots, overflowing with colorful ideas, a large cast of characters, and complex storylines, span dozens of solar systems, alien races, and strange creatures.
As the second book of the trilogy opens, the humans and Ildirans, having narrowly escaped annihilation at the hands of the Shana Rei and their robot allies in Book One, are desperate to find a way to combat the black cloud of antimatter of the Shana Rei. The mysterious alien Gardeners, who had helped them previously, turn out to be a disaster in disguise and because of them, the world tree forests are again in danger. The allies believing they have found a way to stop their dreaded enemies, a new weapon is tested, but it’s a horrible failure, throwing the human race and its allies to the brink of extinction.
***** *** *******
Another great installment of this exciting space opera trilogy from one of the genre’s finest exponents. It continues the series immediately from where The Dark Between the Stars left off, and gives further truck-loads of the same fast-paced action and bigness which are hallmarks of Anderson’s epic stories.
Like the previous books, for a kick off we’re given a decent story recap which is a great feature of the series, one of the key things which make these books so readable. You can come back into it after some time away and quickly pick up the story again, brought back up to speed with key events and plot elements that jog the memory sufficiently to enthusiastically get right back onto the roller coaster. That’s exactly what this series is, a fast-paced action science-fantasy space opera with most of the tropes that make this type of thing so appealing. It’s fantastic science fiction, full of the sense of wonder that the genre is famous for and there are so many things to help you get lost in it.
All of the familiar players return and many of them begin to take on larger roles in the story, which evolves at a breathtaking rate. We learn more about the dark and insane Shana Rei and their diabolical plan for the universe, aided still by the murderous Klikiss robots who are now seeing things for what they really are. The enigmatic Bloaters, the strange organic nodules found in deep space and abundant source of ekti-x stardrive fuel, remain an anomaly for the moment. A few more subtle clues are offered about their essence and I’m very eager to learn what these are all about. I’m anticipating something big from them. The background to many of the characters continues to be fleshed out, recounting much of what was presented on the Saga of Seven Suns which will further help readers who haven’t read that earlier series. The action is practically non-stop and I was always eager to return to the book after having put it down, always treated to something spectacular whenever I did. The world building is nothing short of spectacular.
The large science-fantasy elements to this story are superb; the magical realm of the worldforest on Theroc with the trees’ instantaneous communications across the universe, facilitated by the fascinating green priests, the inter-dimensional and matter-manipulating abilities of the Shana Rei and the mind-bending Faeros who, along with the Hydrogues, are again going to play pivotal roles in the story. The Onthos aliens, who made their grand entrance at the end of book one, once tenders of another ancient worldforest, are sheltering on Theroc and take on a new more sinister role. Big things are going to happen with the worldforest and the green priests in book three.
As you can see, there really is so much going on in this story and I’m assuming that any reader of this would have at least read The Dark Between the Stars and maybe even the Saga of Seven Suns. If so they’ll know exactly what to expect. The large scale of the story makes this a superb escapism read and I usually found myself reluctant to “snap out of it” after a session in the pages. Huge marks for pure entertainment that’s for sure.
It’s looking like it’s going to be one hell of a climactic conclusion to the trilogy because the story is still building. I’m preparing myself for quite a ride in book three Eternity’s Mind. I highly recommend this book and series to lovers of space action and adventure. Sure, there are more “intellectual” space opera works out there, but for pure entertainment (which is exactly what this is intended to be) it cannot be beaten.
4/5 for concept
4/5 for delivery
5/5 for entertainment
= 4.3 out of 5