This is a big sweeping epic scifi! There’s a lot going on in this story. Set in the far, far future, there’s an intersolar commonwealth with all sorts of politics. At the center of the galaxy, is the Void, which is supposedly this artificial universe created by a technologically advanced civilization eons ago. There’s lots of theories about it and no real answers. Some folks want to take a vast armada of settlers into the void and others believe that will cause it to swell and swallow the galaxy. Meanwhile, we have characters just living their lives like country boy Edeard.
Edeard features strongly in this book. He and his folks live a relatively quiet life but they have this third hand. It’s a type of psychic energy that allows them to move things about with the force of their minds. Some people have stronger third hands than others. Also, some of these folks can manipulate the minds, and perhaps genes, of animals. In fact, some of them have gotten so good at gene manipulation over the generations, that they now trade docile working animals with neighboring cities for other goods.
The story has so many different societies. There’s the ANA (Advanced Neural Activity) which rules the Central Worlds. It’s very high tech. Basically, people have opted to have their minds downloaded into a virtual reality, ANA, and this conglomeration of minds rules. Yet they retain their individuality and can be uploaded into a physical body, should they choose to do so.
Amarinta, an ex-waitress who comes into a small inheritance, decides to refurbish her apartment, and perhaps a whole group of apartments in the hopes of selling them off. She repeatedly comes into contact with the same man as she buys supplies. Sparks fly but she’s a little confused. And rightly so! This man has a shared consciousness among many, many bodies. This is yet another group, another way of living, that I found interesting. Amarinta is involved in some lovely, hot sex scenes throughout the book. Eventually, she becomes a pivotal character for the plot.
So we have this big sweeping back drop, all these interesting characters, various societies, religions, and politics, and the big looming mystery of the Void. All that is very well done and very entertaining. However, I do have this one criticism. The ladies. Yep. All of the ladies, with the exception of an elderly woman involved in the military who arrives at the end of the book, are described as bomb shells. They are all beautiful and that is the first (and sometimes the only) thing we learn about them. Sigh…. In fact, it takes quite some time before we get a plot-integral female character. Sometimes, the author tells us how awesome a female character is at her job, but then only shows her flirting and being sexy. That was such a disappointment.
Even with that criticism, it’s still a pretty darn good book. And I am invested now in many of the characters and I really want to know what is up with that Void. So, I will be continuing on with the series.
Narration: Toby Longworth was an excellent narrator for this book. It has such a large cast of characters and he did a really good job of keeping them distinct. His female voices were believable. I especially liked his voice for Edeard because he has so many emotions.