Top critical review
Worse than the first novel; should have been better.
Reviewed in the United States on May 10, 2015
This is the second book in the Saga of the Seven Suns series, and it has all the flaws of the first book, only magnified. In my review for the origin novel (Hidden Empire), I noted that the first book had great ideas, but was cursed with slow pacing, chapters focused on universe building instead of driving the plot forward, and that most of the action happens in the last 10% of the book.
This book has all of these problems, but they are made worse by ridiculous behavior by both aliens and humans. For example, in the first novel, powerful aliens go to war with humans, yet refrain from wiping out Earth, even though in this novel, we see that they are perfectly capable of doing so the way a human would swat a mosquito or use a vacuum cleaner to suck up a spider. Never once do the humans ever bother to wonder why the aliens simply haven't exterminated them. And that's a major flaw--the humans and aliens are just stupid, as in poorly characterized and poorly plotted.
As in the first novel, the chapters are short and often pointless. All the real action happens in the last 15% of the book. A good editor would have tightened the story up; the whole novel could have been 1/3 as long, kept the good ideas, and eliminated characters whose arcs went nowhere. While these flaws were somewhat acceptable in the first novel as an introduction to the Seven Suns universe, they are just an example of poor writing in this second book. It's possible that author Anderson was trying to write a book that could be read without knowing the contents of the first book, but even within this book, he repeats information over and over again.
Quite honestly, it will be a chore to finish the series. I'm sure fans of the series will give this book high marks, and indeed, anyone who likes the series enough to finish all the books will give high marks to all the books in the series. Only the most devoted fan would make it all the way through, so if one were to graph the number of readers against the ratings, it would show diminishing readership with increasing ratings.
If you were a fan of the first book, you'll love this book as it's more of the same. If however, you noticed the poor pacing, an increasingly unbelievable storyline, and pointless chapters, you will dislike the book and the series. I plan on finishing the series and will post reviews, but if you start this series, don't say you weren't warned.