In a far-future empire known as the Primacy, elites and spacefaring rogues are ensnared in a conspiracy by a top-tier mystic to elevate himself to godhood.
Author Leone’s debut kicks off a planned multivolume saga built on the conceit of the “Calling Tower,” one of those tropes that sci-fi commentators have taken to calling the “Big Dumb Object,” a crucial artifact that inspires awe. Here, it’s a deposit of a rare crystal of unthinkable purity that’s been uncovered under the Earth’s crust, sending a multifaceted spire (hence the “Tower”) aboveground. In an era wracked by near-extinction-level planetary war and strife, this miracle mineral permits the downloading and retrieval of human consciousnesses, enabling society’s elites to enjoy repeated resurrections as “Honored Returned” in continually upgraded, powerful, nanotech-enhanced bodies. Use of the Calling Tower remakes human civilization into the Primacy, a theocracy that worships the Earth as a mother goddess (for how can anything so beneficial have evolved by random chance?); it’s also a rapacious space empire, feared by countless aliens, that’s driven by the Tower-inspired credo that humanity alone has been favored by the Divine. Some 1,800 years after the discovery of the Calling Tower, Vashek, a high administrator/priest who’s been reborn so often that he’s an angelic figure, schemes to push the Calling Tower’s properties even further and incarnate himself as a noncorporeal being of pure consciousness—in other words, an amoral, lethal god. Doing this without detection requires Vashek to initiate a shadowy interstellar criminal conspiracy that readers may find a bit overcomplicated. However, the novel also tracks an entertaining ensemble of characters. One of them in particular, an ex-soldier–turned–rogue hero named Seth, has an especially Han Solo–esque vibe. The book also features world-sized spaceships and exotic extraterrestrials. If readers are left slightly wanting for further shadings of the Primacy culture, they may take comfort in the fact that there’s a sequel already in progress.
A promising start to a serious-minded space-opera epic.