This book picks up right where Book 1 (The Ruins of Mars) left off. The crew has many questions about the statues they discovered. Braun is mesmerized by the chamber and other readings he is picking up. Meanwhile, a crew member has an unexpected secret that could damage the dynamic of the crew and their mission. Remus and Romulus continue to explore the Construct, learning more about the ancient Martians.
I really enjoyed Book 1 and Book 2 does not disappoint. In fact, I enjoyed it even more. First, the ladies have many more responsibilities and page time in this book than in Book 1. It’s good to see the author taking advantage of these characters he took the time to create. Second, we finally have some death going on in this installment. That definitely added weight to the story. Now it’s that much more important to me as the reader that at least some of my heroes make it out of this adventure in tact.
The mystery definitely gets bigger. First, the statues found in the underground chamber clearly depict two kinds of beings. Since Remus and Romulus are still in the Construct (a kind of full sensory recording of Martian history that only they currently have access to), we readers know who the native Martians are and who the technologically advanced visitors are. But archaeologist Harrison Assad and the rest don’t know and can only speculate. In Book 1, they did some ground-penetrating radar and other scans, so they know there must be a way past this statue chamber into the larger underground complex. That becomes their main focus.
Meanwhile, Braun, the space ship’s AI, has become fascinated with the statue chamber. There are readings there that he can’t explain because he doesn’t have anything to compare them to. The senior officers of the expedition have the ability to override Braun’s internal orders, and one of those officers does just that. Unfortunately, this causes Braun some woe and some damage and that might explain, in part, some of his actions later on. These conflicting readings and orders have profound effects on Braun that no one anticipated.
The crew is starting to splinter apart as personal agendas and outside forces exert their influences. One of the crew members definitely has personal gain and prestige on her mind and that adds to negativity floating about in the crew quarters. Meanwhile, things are afoot back home on Earth. The politicians back home want to stay in charge of the mission, which is becoming more and more difficult as the crew make decisions that fit the circumstances and not necessarily their orders. And then this solar-system wide event happens that disrupts everything. Watching how both Earth and the Mars crew bounce back from that was quite entertaining.
This was an excellent read. There’s plenty going on and the characters are well developed. It was great to see that the ladies weren’t shelved and ignored as with Book 1. Definitely ready to jump into Book 3!