The Dark Between the Stars by Kevin J. Anderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Twenty years after the elemental conflict that nearly tore apart the cosmos in The Saga of Seven Suns, a new threat emerges from the darkness. The human race must set aside its own inner conflicts to rebuild their alliance with the Ildiran Empire for the survival of the galaxy.
Galactic empires clash, elemental beings devastate whole planetary systems, and factions of humanity are pitted against each other. Heroes rise and enemies make their last stands in the climax of an epic tale seven years in the making.
"It has been twenty years since the events of The Saga of the Seven Suns, in which an ancient war among four elemental races is reignited and nearly destroys both the human race and the alien Ildirans. The new Confederation has governed human civilization across its many colonized planets since the end of the Elemental War, and relations between the humans and Ildirans are harmonious. Peace and commerce have been restored, with the Roamers back in the business of mining and selling the valuable stardrive fuel ekti (required for faster-than-light travel) and the green priests of Theroc providing instantaneous trans-galactic communication via their sentient worldtrees. But the malevolent Klikiss robots are plotting their revenge from exile, and soon find an ally in the ancient Shana Rei, the destructive personification of darkness and chaos which has awakened from millennia of slumber to destroy all sentient life in the universe."
When I saw this published I knew straight away that I'd need to read it having immensely enjoyed Anderson's Saga of Seven Suns series a few years ago. This book is effectively a continuation of that series after a number of years have elapsed, and the first of a planned trilogy of space opera novels called the The Saga of Shadows. Kevin J Anderson has a writing style that I love, his stories flow beautifully and this is no different - unsurprisingly. It's nice to be immersed again in this universe, and for me particularly nice to go back to the forest world of Theroc, home of the sentient Worldforest and the green priests who are able to use worldtrees for instantaneous communication. I absolutely love Theroc and ever since first reading about it, has been one of my favorite fictional sci-fi locations. This planet is now the hub of human government in the Spiral Arm, after Earth and it's moon have been badly damaged, and there is still a slightly uneasy alliance with the Ildirans. The Roamers, a loose confederation of independent humans, are still scattered about the place in often the most unusual places and the various splinter colonies of humans and Ildirans coexist together, but everyone is still recovering from the "Elemental War" from earlier. The various elemental beings from before are present in the story in varying degrees, some dormant and some quite visible and active. Also present as a major character is Rlinda Kett, my favorite character from the last series, now a large scale (in more ways than one) business woman with a large fleet of interstellar transport ships. Essentially, it felt like I was coming home to a universe that I really like being immersed in. Having said that, I don't believe that a reader new to Anderson's Seven Suns universe will be lost here, because he adds plenty of background information snippets to fill any storyline gaps that pop up occasionally. Over the first half of the book the story cruises along nicely, with the foundation being laid for what is surely going to be another epic tale. After that, things really bolt ahead and we get a glimpse at the direction that the series is going to take. Just as a major new turn takes place and we're introduced to a new and ancient species in the galaxy, the book ends and leaves us hanging and happily waiting for the next book. Yes, I loved it and I think any fan of space opera will. It lacks some of the depth of some other space opera epics (like Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga/Void Trilogy), and for this reason it missed out on it's fifth star from me. However, it's a massively fun story and a very well written tale that kept me hooked at every point.
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