Thursday, July 27, 2006

Of Fire and Night - Kevin J. Anderson

Of Fire and Night
The Saga of the Seven Suns – Book 5
Kevin J. Anderson
Warner Aspect

Science Fiction - Space Opera

NOTE: This is the fifth volume in an enormously complex space opera series. If you haven’t read the first four novels, it’s pretty likely that you’ll be lost/spoiled for a good part of this, even though the author provides a prologue.

As this installment opens, the human race is embroiled in a war that looks ever-more-hopeless with the alien hydrogues. Unknown to the Hansa League, which includes Earth, the Ildiran Empire has brokered a deal with the hydrogues in an attempt to stave off their own extermination. The hydrogues have powerful allies in the Klikiss robots. Both are determined to eradicate human life. The Klikiss have managed to infiltrate the human forces through use of what the humans believe are simple soldier robots.

In addition to the very real external threats, the Hansa League is crumbling from within. The Chairman, Basil Wenceslas, is becoming more and more unstable. This is problematic since he has long been the true power behind the throne. King Peter and Queen Estarra, who were supposed to be mere puppet rulers for the Chairman, fear for themselves and for their unborn child. The Roamers, sort of gypsy energy miners have cut ties with the Hansa. Somehow, the various human factions need to pull together or face annihilation, together.

The above is really a bare-bones sketch of what is a complex and multi-layered epic. The world the author has created is stunning in its realism and diversity. The fact that he manages to tell very real, personal stories in the midst of a galactic war is a real testament to his talent. The cast of characters is huge, but each has his or her moment to shine. Or not, as the case may be. And, for readers (like me) who need a scorecard to keep names and terms straight, the author thoughtfully provides a very complete glossary. I would recommend reading the first four books, not merely for backstory, but for the enjoyment. As the ending makes clear, there’s more to come, and I’m looking forward to it.

Rating: 8 ½
July 2006
ISBN# 0-446-57718-9 (hardcover)

The previous volumes, all currently available in pb from Warner Aspect:
Hidden Empire
A Forest of Stars
Horizon Storms
Scattered Suns


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