Labyrinthine space opera from venturesome science-fiction author Flynn (Eifelheim, 2006, etc.) tracks an artifact of unknown origin.
Discovered deep within a nameless planet and subsequently lost by freighter captain Amos January, the mysterious pre-human statue known as the Dancer soon surfaces on New Eireann, a future-Ireland in the midst of its own troubles. Promptly stolen by barbarians from across the Rift, the twisting stone, which bears a striking resemblance to the scepter of a mythical alien ruler, quickly arouses the attentions of many an interested party. Exiled guerilla leader Little Hugh O’Carroll thinks he should return home to his cause, but instead falls in with the Fudir, a shadowy fixture of the Terran underworld with his own circuitous plans. Briget ban, an elite Hound of the Ardry, Greystroke, an ambitious Pup, and Radhi Lady Cargo Dalhousie, a shipping mandarin with an eye for collecting, are also players in this most convoluted game.
Flynn ably tracks the intersecting orbits of his assassins, pirates and would-be kings, constructing a plot with the human density of a Brazilian favela, but his scattershot epic lacks the enveloping seamlessness of Peter F. Hamilton’s superlative work.