The beginning a new doorstopper sequel series to Anderson’s fantasy space opera The Saga of the Seven Suns (The Ashes of Worlds, 2008, etc.).
In the future, royalty supposedly governs humanity’s galactic league of colonies, but in reality, the monarchs take their orders from a Chairman. Humans have gained a stardrive from the ancient alien Ildiran race. The innately conservative Ildirans are psychically linked through “thism” (a sort of weak telepathy) to their leader, the Mage-Imperator. On the independent human planet Theroc live green priests, telepathically linked to each other through their world’s semi-sentient worldforest. Previously, humans and Ildirans fought a war with the hydrogues, gassy aliens who dwell on (or in) gas giant planets (there are fiery and watery aliens too) with the deadly Klikiss black robots. You won't be surprised to hear the humans won. Now, 20 years later, engineer Garrison Reeves foresees disaster overtaking the unstable volcanic planet he’s working on; pursued by his vengeful wife, he flees into space with his son and discovers “bloaters”—which happen to be chock-full of a spaceship superfuel called “ekti.” An exploratory Ildiran ship commanded by Gale’nh, the half-human son of the Mage-Imperator, blunders into a mysterious sentient black cloud known to Ildiran history as Shana Rei and meets disaster. A swarm of surviving Klikiss black robots forms an alliance with Shana Rei. Human traditionalist Roamer dissidents take up residence in an ancient abandoned space city only to fall victim to an incurable plague. Phobic industrialist Zoe Alakis sends her murderous servant Tom Rom to acquire samples for medical research even though she does nothing with the proceeds. All this isn’t the half of it. With a cast of thousands, glossary notwithstanding, it’s hard to remember who anybody is or what they do. Narrating in his usual breezy style, and untroubled by scientific fact, Anderson just lays it on with a trowel—and the upshot’s a book that’s so busy communicating everything in general that it forgets to be about something in particular.
Avoid. Unless you’re an Anderson addict.