I liked the solution to the Rasu problem, though I don’t know if it
needed to go all the way down to the wire. The Rasu plot was actually
very simply solved. Most of the rest of the book dealt with how to
recover from the actions at the end of the last book –while they were
important and had some interesting parts, they were less so than the
events in the rest of this series. The gathering of Advisors, the
rebellion of some, and the addition of Noir members, all gave the
recovery some validity. My favorite part was the attack on the Mirai
tower by the Advisors who believe the government takeover was illegal.
It showed a lot of smart people working very smart angles. On the other
hand, I have a lot of trouble with Dashiel’s reaction to Nika’s
revelation –he overreacted, and I didn’t find it believable, especially
the way he’d fawned over her in this and the previous life. It served no
real purpose, and was too smoothed over for the rest of the book.
It seems that in every book, the two main characters need to break up for
a reason, then come back together as they realize the reason they split
up was stupid. In the previous book, Dashiel’s pride was wounded and he
walked out. This time, Nika wounds his sense of truth, explaining that
she was one of the original Asterions, and that she knew he was the love
of her life from 700000 years ago, without telling him. There is a
stigma against telling the truth to somebody who has wiped their own
memories, but that doesn’t stop Dashiel from being irrational and
storming off again. It’s only when Nika decides to go on a very
dangerous mission that he realizes –again– that he can’t live without
her, even if she didn’t tell him the whole truth in their previous life.
The whole situation smacks of being unbelievable.
once they reconcile things get better, and the focus turned to the other
characters, like Adlai and Perrin, for example. I liked Perrin a lot in
the last book, but here she really shines, a bright personality, full of
optimism, even when things get really dark. She and Adlai have hooked
up, and she keeps him sane.
The book moves forward in a very
logical way, with good character actions and reactions, as well as a lot
of fallout from the events in the last book. But my favorite part of the
book probably comes after the mid-point, where the imprisoned Advisor
Satair escapes, rescues one of the relifed Guardians, and goes on the
attack. Without enough careful planning, though, the attack ultimately
fails, though they do a lot of damage to the Advisor headquarters. I
liked the way it brought Joachim back into the fold, though, after his
outrage at Perrin dating Adlai.
The information network in this
society seems to be second to none, as they can easily backtrack his
movements to arrest the Guardian, who commits suicide and destroys his
backups before they can get to him.
The primary task of this
book, however, is to take out the Rasu threat. So Nika takes a gamble,
and goes to visit the Sogain, the species that essentially told
Asterions to get lost and never visit again, long, long ago. But in the last book, Nika
recovered a memory where the Sogain had shown her the Rasu threat, so
she takes the chance. I agree with everybody in that they are not very
helpful, except telling Nika where to find a lone Rasu, who has crashed
and refused to return to the Rasu collective. With good planning, they
are able to capture it, and with proper interrogation, gain some insight
into what the Rasu want.
It turns out that the kyoseil that
Asterions use to fuse their bodies to the AI they assimilated in the war
in the other galaxy has properties that they never imagined. It might
even be alive and intelligent, but it permits Asterions to communicate
with each other in a network fashion. They start to find ways to do this
without destroying individuality.
One of the people who was
sucked in to the tainted limb augment scandal and arrested and taken to the Rasu
in the first book –a re-lifed Parc connects with his other body,
revealing how he is being tortured by the Rasu. He starts the mental
brainstorming network, and institutes the protocols that allow people to
remain people, which is the main worry, in that they will become a hive
collective and lost their individuality.
Nika hatches the only viable plan, and although
everybody objects, they allow her to go through with it, because nobody
has any better ideas. They go visit the Taiyok aliens, to obtain more
cloaking devices. Not only do the Taiyok provide the cloaks, they also
send ships to help Nika deploy the explosives. Then Nika goes to visit
the cuddly aliens who control most kyoseil, and explain the situation.
She was always their favorite ambassador, so they agree. Then Nika
downloads her memories and personality backups into 8000 bodies, which
was part of the next delivery to the Rasu.
The operation was
pretty stressful, though I was fairly certain that the author would
allow it to be successful. Dashiel and the military ships cloak and
deploy the kyoseil explosives against most of the major Rasu structures,
because Rasu become the structures, part of the collective good of the
species. When the body delivery is made, Nika coordinates them through
the new network, sending them all in the direction of the controllers
that can destabilize the Rasu structures. The countdown as she lost
bodies at an alarming rate was intense, and only a handful made it to
the controller room. By the time she uses a special knife to destroy the
Rasu controller, she’s down to one body. While it was fun to see
everything whittle down to one body, I think the author might have done
better by allowing a few to succeed. This was their only chance, and by
having only one survive, it shows how badly they miscalculated. It came
so close to failure.
Meanwhile, as the Rasu structures are
destabilized, they start falling into their star, and the kyoseil
explosions destabilize the star itself, eventually causing a nova, which
destroys all the Rasu. One ship almost escapes, but Dashiel manages to
collapse the wormhole before it does.
The Asterion society has
now come to a crossroads. The entire society is being transformed into a
kind of hive mind that can still retain individuality, which will make
everything different. They are coming to a new form of self-government,
abandoning the Guardian system. But they also know that the Rasu are
still out there, across many galaxies, and possibly even in their own
galaxy, though hopefully those who are now disconnected from the hive
will become reclusive.
Being warned by the Sogain that help
might be available from the galaxy where they fled from almost a million
years ago after their failed rebellion, Nika hatches a new plan to
contact them –alone, despite what she and Dashiel have gone through in
discovering they were better together. She has managed to blend her two
personalities, the old one and the new rebellious one from NOIR, and
Dashiel still has trouble accepting that. After time between galaxies,
Nika is contacted by somebody from the Anaden empire, which has
apparently transformed in the time since the rebellion. They are aware
of the Sogain, and of the Asterions, and agree to join forces. It seems
that I should go back in time, because some (or all?) of the previous
books in this long series deal with the people that Nika has just met.
Another series to explore!