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A novel by G.S. Jennsen
(2019, Hypernova)

Asterion Noir, book 3

In the aftermath of the overthrow of the Guardians, Nika and Dashiel search for a way to protect Asterion worlds from the powerful Rasu.


+ -- First reading (ebook)
April 3rd to 9th, 2022


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.

Spoiler review:

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.

Fortunately, 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!


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