||I liked this book better than the first one, probably
for the simple reason that I already knew the universe and cultures and
understood somewhat the issues that were being presented. The
characters were the same as in the previous novel,
The Dreaming Void,
and they continued along their same paths as if this was one long story.
A lot more of this novel took place in the city of
Makkathran, where the water-walker Edeard lives, which was fine with me,
because I liked the near-fantasy aspect of that culture. Now that the
world and its main characters have been introduced, the story can get
into full gear, with Edeard taking on the gangs. Araminta took up the
next largest chunk of the story, outside the Void, in a hugely
technological culture -and this was thoroughly enjoyable. I continue to
be amazed at the society this author has created. While Araminta lives
in a single city, the same society is inhabited by Paula and Troblum on
a much grander scale, one that spans worlds.
I really enjoyed reading about Edeard. As mentioned in
the previous review, this is more of a fantasy story, because it
involves descendents of a ship that crashed in the Void, and whose
survivors were forced into a more medieval way of life because
electronics don't work there. Edeard is a typical
country boy, as everybody keeps reminding us. The city has developed
such a culture that he can't really penetrate, despite his hero status.
In The Dreaming Void, we learned about the constable service, and how it
was truly powerless. After Edeard took his squad around, they became
much more powerful, but still have the gangs to deal with. But in this
book, we see that the higher class families actually control the city,
and they don't really want Edeard to shake it up too much.
Edeard at the beginning of this book is still enjoying
his hero status, sleeping with as many women as possible, even keeping a
few company whose husbands are out in the militia, trying to keep the
bandits at bay. This goes on for long enough that it is not suspicious
when Ranalee takes him to a cottage for a weekend of sex. But she has a
power that the Families have kept secret from the rest of the
population, the ability to coerce a person's mind to their inner
desires. She tries to corrupt him with sex and this power, offering him
to tap his desire to rule Makkathran, and telling him he can sleep with other Family women to create
even more heirs, making him the most powerful man in the land, and
guaranteeing his family rulership for generations to come. Essentially,
she wanted to control him through his desires, which he recognized after
a short while. He is able to resist, earning him her ire. She was also
involved in the gangs, which are far more organized than Edeard ever
His nemesis at the House of the House of Blue Petals, a
whorehouse, plans several traps for him. Edeard survives them all, and
makes enough mistakes in dealing with Ivarl. But his power grows, so
that he can walk through the city's walls and the city even helps him
escape, especially when Ivarl burns down his own establishment to try
and kill Edeard. The city would always rebuild its old housings, but it
also allows Edeard to sink through the floor to deep canals, which
shows him how to travel quickly from one side of the city to another.
Eventually, he defeats Ivarl, who is killed by his own people.
Edeard finds an obscure law that allows one sector to
banish people from its borders, which he uses to full effect, but which
causes the gang members to retaliate. When they kidnap the young
daughter of the District master, everybody thinks Edeard's plans will
backfire and he will be left with nothing. However, he uses the city's
memory of events leading up to the kidnapping to locate the girl, and
his squad travels below the city to rescue her. There he learns that
some of the gang and Family members are working together, and that some
of them have better concealment even than him.
But he does rescue the girl, and earns the love of the
older daughter in return. It is Kristabel who Edeard falls in love with,
and whom he eventually proposes to. From her he learns things about sex
and telepathic ability that he never dreamed of.
Edeard is ambushed when his squad hears of
previously-unknown types of rifles being unloaded in a certain area of
the city. They push him off a tower -and he flies, thanks to the city.
Even the death of one of his squad members works to his benefit, as he
actually sees the man's soul, which he gifts to the Pythia, the
spiritual leader. This raises his hero status even further.
I found the wedding preparations and the election vote
to be a little long, but I suppose they were necessary setup for the
final chapter, which changes everything. As Finitan, the egg-shaper
guild master, wins the elections, Edeard and several of his men are sent
out to apprehend bandits who have been raiding the outer provinces.
This, too, is an ambush, but of the former mayor! I never saw this
coming, but I suppose it was somewhat telegraphed beforehand. But when
every one of his companions is killed, I started to think that something
was wrong. The author was going so far in making Edeard alone again that
I grew suspicious. Then Edeard returned to the city he found Owain
in control, and men with guns on every street -and every one of his
friends dead, including Kristabel.
At this point, I knew the story was going to go one of
two ways. It seemed unlikely that we would start over, with Edeard (and
at this point Salrana, the other survivor from his village) going off to
another part of the world to start their lives over. It seemed more
likely there would be a reset button of some kind, and there was. I also
found Salrana's betrayal distasteful. As Edeard said, it was not like
her at all. I thought it was rather convenient that the one person he
had left in his life would treat him so callously and join his enemies.
But at the very end it is revealed that Salrana has taken not only Owain
as a lover, but also Ranalee. It is Ranalee who has used her power to
corrupt Salrana, who could not resist it as Edeard had.
So the reset button is revealed -it's actually
revealed in the title of the novel. Edeard can see into the patterns
stored in the Void, which has recorded every instant it has experienced.
He can reach into that past and delve into it, restarting from a point
before he made his mistakes. And so he does, riding back into the city
before its takeover. He kills Owain and all the other conspirators, and
makes many arrests. The city is thus saved, and somehow it doesn't feel
like a cheat. This is related to part of the story that doesn't take
place in Makkathran -where it is revealed that the Void, which is a
machine created by the original inhabitants of the galaxy, is a giant
telepathic container that can grant wishes, but in order for it to store
all the information within it and to be able to reset to a previous
time, it needs to consume star system after star system, eventually
consuming the galaxy.
For outside the Void, after Araminta told the Skylord
she didn't want to talk to him at the end of
the last book, the Void expanded again. I don't
remember Justine from the previous novel, but she becomes important
here. On the guardian outpost constantly watching the Void, Justine
launches her ship toward the Void after it expands, risking the wrath of the Raiel to get
there. Araminta risks speaking to the Skylord again, who expands the
Void to accept Justine's ship. When she went into hibernation and
emerged occasionally, spending a year for about every day spent outside
the Void, I suspected she might actually be The Lady, whose teachings so
many in Makkathran worship. But if so, it hasn't happened by the end of
this book. At the end of her journey, she lands in a place that
resembles one she visited a thousand years ago, meeting the love of her
life -again, stranded as her ship no longer has power to leave. But she
knows Edeard's trick, and is convinced by her father (the Third Dreamer,
now that Justine is in the Void) that she has to reach into the past and
do a reset to before she crashed, and try to reach Makkathran. This is
all in humanity's quest to discovery what is at the heart of the Void,
and either join with it or stop its expansion.
Araminta wants to stop its expansion, and explain to
the Skylord why the Pilgrimage is a bad thing. Actually, she wants to be
left alone, but that's not going to happen. The book only takes place
over a few days, but in that time, Araminta escapes from the Living
Dream occupation forces that took over her city, set up one of its
devoted members by communicating with the Skylord (to allow Justine to
get in and escape the Raiel) inside his apartment, which she renovated.
I thought it was quite exciting, and this early part of the book was by
far my favorite after several of Inigo's dreams about Edeard. Now that
she knows she is the Second Dreamer, she also knows she is in trouble.
She bunks at one of her former co-worker's places, and then goes to a
secret business her ex-fiancÚ owned, getting him to help her. In the
end, she discovers she has a connection with an exotic alien race, and
manages to get through the force field dome and is transported through a
wormhole to a Silfen place -and I'm not even sure I know what that
means, yet! Poor Mr. Bovey, whose multiple personalities get left
Meanwhile, Inigo is traveling with Aaron to escape the
planet that is being blown up from the inside in the last book. He
betrays Aaron, sending the assassin over a glacial cliff, but being
enhanced as he is, Aaron gets back up and captures Inigo again. Aaron kills
the crew of a navy ship sent to search for survivors, and steals their
ship, but it is damaged in the severe storms, so they wait in far orbit
while it repairs itself and watch the planet as it explodes.
I still haven't figured out Troblum. He doesn't
feature much in this book, except in a long action sequence that sees
his entire collection of Starflyer War memorabilia destroyed as The Cat
tries to kill or capture him. Actually, she uses him as bait to catch
Paula Myo, her arch nemesis from over a thousand years ago. I should
probably read the older books about the Commonwealth to see more of
that. But for now, both women are obsessed with capturing or killing
each other. Paula, for her part, discovers that Troblum took part in
secret navy projects against the Primes (possibly in those previous
novels). But aside from his desire to leave the galaxy, we don't learn
more about him. Paula discovers that the Accelerator faction has teamed
up with the Ocisens, who are trying to invade Commonwealth space to
destroy the Pilgrimage fleet. They have grafted themselves into Prime
bodies (where the Primes were apparently the main alien enemy in the
Starflyer War). She discovers a huge factory around an alien planet,
which houses many more clones of the Cat, and which is destroyed leaving no
evidence after she trips an alarm. She does manage to escape.
Another small part of the book is dedicated to
following the Navy's attempts to have the Ocisens turn back their
invasion fleet. We don't have anything invested in this plotline for the
moment, because we don't know the aliens and they only have a single
purpose. The navy knocks one ship out of the equivalent of hyperspace,
only to have a Prime ship de-cloak nearby. It destroys the first navy
ship to encounter it, and later the navy is able to destroy several of
theirs. This will force the navy and ANA to deploy the Deterrence Fleet,
which is such a huge secret that nobody knows what it is, and most
people doubt its existence. But it appears that the Advancers want this
fleet for their own purposes. I seriously doubt it's to take it over and
use it to defend the Pilgrimage against the Raiel, as suggested here.
But I have no idea whatsoever, otherwise, except maybe to free the
remaining Primes who are sealed in the Dyson Spheres? Regardless, by the end of the book, the
fleet is about to be deployed.
I would say that more than half of this book is
devoted to Edeard and his efforts to rid the city of the gangs. I liked
the way he cooped all the gang members up in the district of Sampalok,
which limited the damage to one district when they rioted. Things didn't
go as smooth as he expected, though with help from the city, he managed
to convince the militia to stand down (the city lifted them into the
air), and the district master to resign (the city absorbed his mansion).
This was actually the turning point for Edeard, as he embraced his power
and revealed how he could communicate with the city to the residents of
So Edeard's world is starting anew, while Araminta is
about to start new also, and the Commonwealth is on the cusp of a very
large change, for better or worse. As is often the case in the second
novel of a trilogy, I am looking forward to the next book, and wonder
what possible conclusion it could offer.