This is the follow up to Pandora’s Star, which I babbled on about here. And yeah, I know, I said in that review that I would not be reading the followup novel(s). However, it is a woman’s prerogative to change her mind, so I did.
Another HUGE ginormous book, at 847 pages, give or take a flyleaf or two. Probably wouldn’t be damaged all that badly by the elimination of a detailed description or four of battles, landscapes, and trivial acts, but it is his style of writing, so we just go with it.
Again, (and I urge you to read my review of Pandora’s Star in order to get a grasp on the general theme), we have the several infinitely long plot lines which intertwine and finally merge at the end. Here is the general gist:
Robust, peaceful, and confident, the Commonwealth dispatched a ship to investigate the mystery of a disappearing star, only to inadvertently unleash a predatory alien species that turned on its liberators, striking hard, fast, and utterly without mercy.
The Prime are the Commonwealth’s worst nightmare. Coexistence is impossible with the technologically advanced aliens, who are genetically hardwired to exterminate all other forms of life. Twenty-three planets have already fallen to the invaders, with casualties in the hundreds of millions. And no one knows when or where the genocidal Prime will strike next.
Nor are the Prime the only threat. For more than a hundred years, a shadowy cult, the Guardians of Selfhood, has warned that an alien with mind-control abilities impossible to detect or resist — the Starflyer — has secretly infiltrated the Commonwealth. Branded as terrorists, the Guardians and their leader, Bradley Johansson, have been hunted by relentless investigator Paula Myo. But now evidence suggests that the Guardians were right all along, and that the Starflyer has placed agents in vital posts throughout the Commonwealth — agents who are now sabotaging the war effort.
Is the Starflyer an ally of the Prime, or has it orchestrated a fight to the death between the two species for its own advantage? Caught between two deadly enemies, one a brutal invader striking from without, the other a remorseless cancer killing from within, the fractious Commonwealth must unite as never before.
The nifty thing about this universe is that the folks have the ability to re-life people who have died. The common activity is to periodically backup your memories and leave them in a secure location so if you get killed or die by disease, etc., you can get re-lifed with your memories reintroduced. ALSO, and this I totally love, they have a rejuvenation process which takes about a year or so, and from which you emerge all young again. So you look young and bouncy, but you have the wisdom and skepticism and jadedness of your former lives. hahaha. So you can have marriages between two people, one of whom is a first time around-er, and the other maybe 300 years old, working on their third or fourth life. Talk about a cougar!
I enjoyed this book more than the first, but I think it has more to do about where my mind is as opposed to where it was when I read the first book, than having to do with the books themselves.