Kevin J. Anderson, |
The Saga of Seven Suns #2:
A Forest of Stars
It has been many years since I have been this excited and emotionally attached to a science fiction series. In A Forest of Stars: The Saga of Seven Suns Book 2, Kevin J. Anderson not only builds upon the galactic epic begun in Hidden Empire, he makes the incredible drama detailed in the first book seem like a warm-up act to the real performance. You have to commit yourself to the story -- there is just too much happening to too many characters for you to read this novel in dribs and drabs and expect to keep up -- but that should not be a problem because A Forest of Stars is all but impossible to put down in the first place.
Five years have passed since the Earth-based Terran Hanseatic League used ancient alien technology to turn a gas giant into a brand new star, thereby incurring the wrath of the unknown and seemingly unstoppable race of hydrogues who called the gas giant home. Almost every race and planet in the Spiral Arm has suffered both mentally and physically at the hands of the hydrogues, while the deadly enemy's refusal to allow ekti (the source of stardrive fuel) mining in the atmospheres of their home planets has crippled the galactic economy. Even the impressive Solar Navy of the mighty Ilderan Empire has been proved embarrassingly inferior to the destructive hydrogues. The ominous events detailed in Hidden Empire barely hint at the things to come in the pages of this second entry in the series. A Forest of Stars will take your breath away again and again.
I could never begin to describe all of the momentous and oftentimes shocking things that take place in this novel. The improved military might of the Hansa's Emergency Defense Force remains ineffective against the hydrogues, and the growing scarcity of stardrive fuel has resulted in the breakdown of Hansa control over a number of its colonies. The Roamers, descendants of Earth-based pioneers, continue to maintain their independence and nomadic lifestyle among the stars, but the Roamer economy struggles as its very foundation, the mining and selling of ekti for stardrive fuel, collapses. On Theroc, home of the sentient worldforest, life goes on much as normal for some time, but even the Therons will not emerge from this book unscathed. On Earth, young King Peter, a king in name only, matures and begins to assert himself, all but openly rebelling against the true source of Hansa power: Chairman Basil Wenceslas. Across the Spiral Arm, the true intentions and plans of the Mage-Imperator of the Ilderan Empire are made known, invoking great emotional pain among several important characters as well as the reader. Power changes hands on almost every central civilization involved before A Forest of Stars ends. Beloved characters die, incredible new plot elements (as well as unexpected, mysterious forces) are thrown into the mix, the destructive hydrogues still seem unstoppable and romance in all its forms tears at the heart-strings of the reader. Anderson holds nothing back.
Two lengthy books into this saga, the story is amazingly even more refreshing and promising than ever; I get the distinct feeling that "I ain't seen nothin' yet." The very nature of the awful war changes in these pages, as we learn that this is an ancient war between elemental forces never before imagined by the humans and Ilderans who now find themselves dragged into the apocalyptic conflict. Only now do we begin to understand just who the real enemies of the hydrogues are. Only now do we learn of the Ilderans' secret plans for survival and their total subjugation of select humans in barbaric breeding grounds. Only now do we gain insight into the disappearance of the ancient Klikiss race and begin to learn the truth about the incredible robots they left behind.
The Saga of Seven Suns is such a fantastic science fiction series that I would almost recommend waiting until the series is complete before reading it. Having just read both of the first two novels, I am dying to learn what happens next -- the wait for succeeding entries in this saga will be almost painful. Oftentimes, science fiction characters are rather cold and distant from the reader, but Anderson brings each of his characters to life and, through their triumphs and sorrows, brings the reader intimately into their world. No one (apart from the hydrogues) is starkly good or evil. Best of all, I have no idea how events will play out from this point forward. I may only be two books into this open-ended epic science fiction series, but I can already say that Seven Suns is the most impressive, exciting series I have read since Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.