Captivating far-future tale of life in space, from the author of Flash (2005).
Humanity has settled thousands of worlds throughout the galaxy, but no alien intelligence has ever been detected, so when what appears to be the work of aliens is found on a rogue planet adrift on the edge of the galaxy, it's a major discovery. The planet's continents appear to have been sculpted, and on the surface is a magnificent and mysterious city that's been abandoned for millions, if not billions, of years. A diverse team of specialists—everyone from a historical-trends professor to one of humanity's foremost artists—is sent to investigate the planet's purpose and origin, but armed conflict threatens to thwart their efforts when secular and theocratic political factions attempt to stop each other from acquiring whatever secrets the ancient city has to offer. Several different first-person narrators relate the tale in widely varied voices—from the intellectual verbosity of Dr. Fitzhugh to the clipped and succinct speech of Lt. Chang—making each character distinct and memorable. Modesitt's prose is lively, and there's enough sense of wonder here to satisfy even the most jaded.
A must-read for Modesitt fans, as well as those of Jack McDevitt and Arthur C. Clarke.