RogerBW's Blog

There Before the Chaos, K. B. Wagers 02 May 2024

2018 SF, first of a trilogy that's also a sequel to the Indranan War series. Empress Hailimi is trying to keep her empire out of the war between two lots of highly advanced aliens… but why do all the factions want her working for them?

The combination of an entry ramp for new readers (a quick recap of most of the previous trilogy and who's who among the survivors) with scene-setting for the new challenge means that this book has a lot of paving to lay and not always enough space for actual plot or character. Which faction can be trusted? None of them! They're all up to something, and the Indranans have to come to terms with being the mouse in the room while the wrestlers go at each other.

On the other hand, while I can accept that a species with memory-preserving reincarnation might well get a bit set in their ways over thousand-year lifespans, I would expect them to have picked up some basic diplomacy skills rather than just shouting at each other and casually committing acts of war against allies they want to keep sweet.

The language can get pretty repetitious (yes, the gods are fighting in your house; yes, Hail used to be a gunrunner and has a reputation for violence; yes, all her bodyguard and other allies love her and would happily die for her) and at times this feels like a few introductory chapters padded out to novel length, combined with a massive cliffhanger. It's all right but I didn't feel enthused the way I did with the first book of the earlier series.

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Series: Farian War | Next in series: Down Among the Dead

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