The Ashes of Worlds
By: Kevin J. Anderson
Format/Source: Mass bound paperback; my purchase
The allied factions of humanity, along with the waning Ildiran Empire and the powerful water elementals and sentient trees, have defeated the near-invincible alien race of the hydrogues, driving them back into the depths of gas-giant planets.
But before peace can heal the wounds between the races, two ancient enemies return: the capricious fiery elementals, the faeros, who mean to burn all those who fought alongside their mortal enemies. And the lost hive race of the Klikiss, who intend to reclaim all the worlds they inhabited 10,000 years earlier, worlds that are now home to many human colonies.
Meanwhile, the leader of the Terran Hanseatic League, Chairman Basil Wenceslas, intends to pull all of humanity’s unruly stepchildren into his iron grip – even if it means he has to hold the Ildiran Mage-Imperator hostage, risking renewed war with an entire alien civilization.
The Ashes of Worlds brings to a thrilling conclusion the myriad storylines of galactic warfare and personal betrayals, starlost romances and titanic alien conflicts.
And here we are, at the concluding novel of the Saga of Seven Suns (100 Things) science fiction series. It was quite a feeling when the book arrived in the post, to have the last volume in your hands, to line it up with the rest of the books (all matching formats, cover art–very pleasing to my particulars about shelf organisation =P), to find out what happens to all of these characters I’ve been following since 2011. Spoilers if you haven’t read the previous six installments!
The pacing of this novel was pretty much breakneck speed from start to finish. Metal Swarm (review) left readers on a cliffhanger, wondering who will survive the inferno unleashed on Theroc, who will help them, etc. There are so many revelations, so many developments, I actually found myself wondering at times whether or not Anderson would be able to tie everything up!
But he does, and all of the storylines that have been hanging from the last novel are finally brought to their respective conclusions: Hansa vs. the newly-minted Confederation, the civil war within the Ildiran Empire, the Klikiss vs. their black robots, the wentals vs. the faeros, and all of the respective character storylines. It really feels like a journey’s end; it’s nice to come to a conclusion for many of the characters I’ve been following from the start. No character was left untouched from the craziness that has happened in the Spiral Arm since Hidden Empire (review), every character has faced so many trials and horrors and obstacles along the way. So on the one hand it was a relief, I don’t think I was terribly upset with the fates of these characters, but at the same time it’s bittersweet precisely because I’ve been following them more or less since Book 1.
Since A Forest of Stars (review), some storylines obviously caught my attention more than others and some characters moved around, their stories moving away from central storylines depending, but everyone nonetheless had a role to play at the end. The storyline I was looking forward to the most was the showdown between Hansa and the Confederation, Basil vs. King Peter, and that storyline did not disappoint.
The Ashes of Worlds overall was a satisfying conclusion to a very epic science fiction series. It’s nice to see these sprawling, action-packed, character-driven space opera titles out there and I think the author did a wonderful job telling the story of all of these characters. I highly recommend this series for science fiction fans and readers.