By: Kevin J. Anderson
Format/Source: Mass bound paperback; my purchase
The fourth novel in the Saga of Seven Suns series executes a plan that has been long in the making. The final, most powerful enemy against the humans is about to be launched; how will they survive?
The war between the alien hydrogues and the faeros rages, reducing suns to blackened shells–including one of the fabled seven suns of the Ildiran Empire. The Ildirans are engaged in a bloody civil war and are bitterly divided. Can they overcome their internal fighting to face a deadly new enemy?
So here I am, at the fourth installment of the Saga of Seven Suns (100 Things) science fiction series. It’s been quite a story so far with plenty of twists and turns and plent of characters facing all sorts of odds so I was definitely curious to see where everyone ended up in this installment. Spoilers if you haven’t read the first three installments!
While this novel was a turning point in some ways–humans are finally fighting back after spending three novels on the receiving end of every major attack, the hydrogues sort of on a standstill, the Ildirian civil war is well underway and Osira’h finally carrying out her mission–this novel did feel like an in-between of moments, as though the purpose of this volume was to maneuver the characters around to where they ought to be for the next set of events, however big they are.
The tides are beginning to turn for some socio-political groups: the Ildirians are in the middle of a horrific civil war they’ve never known to experience, the Roamers are fractured and scattered across systems, survivors are beginning to face the dread of the Kilkiss robots, Hansa is slowly starting to slip (ever so slowly; I feel like it’s a matter of time before Basil loses control of everything) and the hydrogues are beginning to interact with the other races, namely through Osira’h’s first contact. From all of these groups, I think the inclusion of the Kilkiss robots into the fray upfront is the most important; the reader knows that they’re about to make their moves against humanity but it wasn’t until now that they were able to move so openly. And from all of the dangers present in this novel, I think they’re the ones that freak me out the most because a) they’re robots and b) they’re robots with a very long grudge against organic lifeforms (to group them all together–it’s obviously a little more complicated than this).
As always, the characters are forced to make some very difficult decisions along the way. Mage Imperator Jora’h in particular comes to mind here as he’s finally forced to make some very tough decisions that go against his very nature. However, this time around only a few storylines intrigued me more than others, particular King Peter–how is he going to square off against Basil? It seems as though he and Estarra are backed into a corner with no way out (as far as I can see). I hope Peter can find more support and leverage within the palace to face Basil in future novels. And ugh, Basil is such a punk, he’s like the conniving Petyr Baelish of the Saga of the Seven Suns universe (minus the whores…and the fascination with girls that resemble his first love).
Overall, I found Scattered Suns to be a little slower compared to previous volumes in the series. It might be because this novel is in the middle chunk of the series and, reflecting the title, all of the socio-political groups and the characters are scattered all across known space. There are however some “happy endings”/temporary relief for certain characters in this series, such as Patrick Fitzpatrick III’s return to Hansa/Earth, which is a nice break from the more dire happenings throughout the story. I am still invested in finding out how everything is going to play out and be resolved, whether humanity can ever come together again and unite to survive and face the hydrogues.