In 2517, a tough, unconventional admiral pilots the Galactic League—a group dedicated to keeping the peace in the cosmos—and various spacecraft through politics, war, and romance.
A few years after the grandniece of QuarboDar XVII assumes power in the Vercorian Empire, she reverses the tranquil policies of the former empress and plans an invasion of the neighboring Manbiyan system. She forms alliances with the Ratarans—who have fought two previous wars against the Galactic League (which includes Earth)—and the Nashcans, who testily share their planet with the Manbiyans. Meanwhile, a failed experiment on Manbiya accidentally creates a half-man/half-machine cyborg who winds up on neighboring Anamoriya, dead set on revenge and in control of an immense armada. Styling himself as Lord Dracker, he throws his lot in with the Vercorians. As a ruse, the Vercorians request peace talks, asking that Fleet Adm. Mikus Padmon serve as chair. Padmon, the hero of past wars reassigned to a teaching post, takes his entire class of cadets to the meeting. What ensues is a wild ride of space battles, political intrigue, budding love affairs, and just a touch of mysticism. Reynolds (At the End of Time, 2014) fills his novel with quirky characters (Padmon has a strange affection for his holographic assistant), each with various motives and agendas. But perhaps the author’s greatest achievement is the creation of an entire universe complete with comprehensive histories, mythologies, and sciences for all the worlds involved, laid out in supplementary material. The overall writing is solid, with some nice imagery and detailed descriptions (“Their white hair and pale complexions almost made them appear as specters in contrast to the bright colors of the surrounding structures”). But a little more polish would have avoided wordy sentences describing mundane actions (“Kazra and Sadreia walked into the room, their tails swaying back and forth, and up to the podium”).
A fast-paced sci-fi epic that delivers an intricate, character-driven tale with surprises lurking behind every asteroid.