A Forest of Stars
By: Kevin J. Anderson
Five years after attacking the human-colonized worlds of the Spiral Arm, the hydrogues maintain absolute control over stardrive fuel…and their embargo is strangling human civilization.
On Earth, mankind suffers from renewed attacks by the hydrogues and decides to use a cybernetic army to fight them. Yet the Terran leaders don’t realize that these military robots have already exterminated their own makers – and may soon turn on humanity. Once the rulers of an expanding empire, humans have become the galaxy’s most endangered species. But the sudden appearance of incredible new beings will destroy all balances of power.
Now for humans and the myriad alien factions in the universe, the real war is about to begin…and genocide may be the result.
A Forest of Stars is the second installment in Kevin J. Anderson’s Saga of Seven Suns that started with Hidden Empire (review). It was one of the best science fiction novels that I’ve come across in recent years, feeling more akin to the epic scope and fast-paced adventure and suspense of Babylon 5 or the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. I know it’ll be a while before I can complete the series but I couldn’t help but pick up this novel recently; I had to find out what happened to all of the characters. May contain spoilers!
I found myself kind of (and inadvertently) comparing this novel to George R.R. Martin’s A Clash of Kings (review), the second novel in A Song of Ice and Fire, for the reason that they were both second novels following up the great premise set up by the first novel in the series. The stakes are raised, and you can tell by the scope in this which the novel presents. Unlike A Clash of Kings though, A Forest of Stars picks up five years after the end of Hidden Empire. Humanity is floundering to survive and continue working as though business as usual. But it’s not; without etki, the fuel needed to power starships, interstellar commerce and travel was dwindling down. The war effort was also going nowhere; although Roamers and the military was able to innovate new weaponry, the hydrogues do not appear to be slowing down on their assault against humanity.
At the same time, we see the scope of the novel expanding. Although the hydrogues are focusing their assault on humanity, there’s the Ildirians to consider, as well as the Theron. Their respective storylines expand further out, eventually drawing them into the firefight as well. The clash also starts reaching even grander heights with the introduction of the Faeros, creatures that inhabited around suns, and the Wentals, a water-based race who were long considered to be a dead species. The worldforest’s role also expands, revealing them to be an ancient species who also opposed the hydrogues. Their respective introductions gives a sense of ancientness and grandness to the story, that the war had been raging for a very long time. There’s also the Kilkiss robots lurking at the periphery, slowly putting their own plans in motion. I can’t wait to see how the various groups–Hansa, Theron, Ildirans, Roamers–deal with the reprecussions of their reappearance in the next novel.
On a personal scale, we continue to see our characters develop as they struggle to survive during the war. Of course, that also means that we lost a few characters along the way, which adds to the direness of the situation. There is the introduction of a few new characters, some of who were interesting and others who were not as interesting. I was personally very interested in King Peter’s storyline as he begins to work with the power he has to shake off some of Basil Wenceslas’s iron grip.
Overall, A Forest of Stars is a great continuation of the series. The complexities and stakes continue to rise as the characters we’ve come to know and care about strive to find an end to the war and an end to the troubles that plague their individual storylines. I don’t know when I’ll get around to Horizon Storms but I’m looking forward to it!