General Tiber Adolphus has almost completed his rebellion. The central planet of Sonjeera remains unconquered but his forces outnumber the enemy easily. General Adolphus didn’t expect Diadem Michella Duchenet to be quite so ruthless though; she has gathered scores of family members of prominent members of the rebel army and placed them all on the lead spaceship of her fleet, in the command of a General Hallholm, including Adolphus’s own mother. Adolphus refuses to fire and consequently loses the war. The Diadem sentences him and his followers to a hellish planet in the Deep Zone that she renames Hallholm. To make sure that Adolphus will not survive the first year, she has their equipment sabotaged. They do survive though and over the years even begin to thrive in a sense. This causes Diadem Michella no end of gray hairs, but she is more than happy to tax the colony with tributes; various products that the colony is able to produce.
All of that is simply the very beginning of the book. What follows is an intriguing book full of rocket ships, scheming, aliens and distant planets. In a word I liked it. I really, really, really liked it. Publisher’s Weekly said the characters were flat and the ending unsatisfying, but respectfully I disagree. I liked how the authors used genre tropes to set up a baseline for the characters and then deviated from them in subtle ways. On the other hand, there were maybe too many point of view characters for any of them to be effectively deepened. Still on the other hand the plot provided so much intrigue that I had real problems putting the book down to do unnecessary stuff like go to work, eat and sleep. I agree in a sense that the ending was a little unsatisfying, but I’m pretty sure that’s purposeful. It’s a total cliffhanger that’s either a nice incentive to go out and buy the next book or a frustrating wait for the next one. I also think the book was probably written with a movie adaptation in mind because it has several freeze-frame worthy visual descriptions, especially the ending. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind.
I don’t want to tell any more of the plot because it’s so intriguing that any amount of spoilers is a total detraction. I will say that this book is good, old-timey space-opera done really well with a thoughtful eye on world building concerns. It’s not high literature but it’s not meant to be either. Very solid 4/5 stars.
YA/MG Science Fiction
Adult Science Fiction
Science Fiction Classic – Pre-1950s
Science Fiction Modern Classic – 1951-1992
Time Travel/Alternate History/Parallel Universe
Mad Scientists/Genetic Testing/Environmental Disaster