Book 3 picks up right where Book 2,Waking Titan, left off. The AI brothers Remus and Romulus are still in the Martian construct (kind of like being trapped in the Matrix). Earth is recovering from the Pulse that killed so many. Harrison Assad and crew are still trying to puzzle out the Martian ruins.
This was quite the ending to the trilogy! This book is nearly twice as long as the previous book, and I’m glad as there was plenty of ground to cover. The crew find a device and those that touch the device have meaningful yet strange reactions to it. Harrison, as the crew’s archaeologist, has a deep fascination with the ruins and the device, focusing on them even though there are more pressing concerns. His friend Ralph Marshall does his best to bring his friend out of his funk (a fellow crew member died in Book 2), but with the Pulse having caused so much damage back on Earth, it’s hard to be cheery about anything.
Captain Tatyana Vodevski probably has the hardest job in this book. Circumstances will arise that require her to consider mutiny against her supervisors back on Earth. She will lose more of her crew and one will go mad. She will have to undertake dangerous missions herself, but also allow her crew to undertake some as well. I definitely wouldn’t want to be Tatyana in this book, even tho she is a bad ass.
Dr. Elizabeth Kubba’s character arc for the entire series is one of the most fascinating. She’s not a total good guy but neither is she a total bad guy. She’s complex and that makes her very interesting. In Book 2 she made some choices that I totally disagreed with, so I was all set to have her be a big villain in Book 3. She surprised me!
Back on Earth, the politics continue to play out despite the world wide event created by the Pulse. One of the lead guys who put together the Mars mission finds out about a secret plot to send a manned spacecraft to take over the Mars station and the ruins. He finds a secret way to left Captain Vodevski know about it and then she has to make some hard decisions about how to handle it. Killbots! Freaking killbots folks! Like the team on Mars doesn’t have enough to deal with! We lose a few more crew members, some unexpectedly, and the group continues to splinter even more.
Then we have the AIs Remus, Romulus, and Braun trapped in the Martian construct, which is replaying out millions of years of history for them. Through these chapters, we learn how Martian society arose and about the alien Travelers that appeared. A religious cult arose to worship the Travelers and eventually became the governing body of Martian society. The AI brothers also learn how Martian society fell.
While I found those chapters interesting, I was worried that the story would take too much of turn towards magic or something spiritual that couldn’t be explained. I’ve really enjoyed the science base for much of this trilogy and a little of the unknown goes a long way. For the most part, now that I know the ending, I feel the author kept things grounded and that while there are some things beyond human knowledge at play here, most of the unexplained could be broken down by science eventually.
The end comes to a crescendo as three main points have to be resolved to not only save the Mars mission but also Earth. The last quarter of the book was difficult to put down (someone has to eat at some point!) and I felt the ending was quite satisfying. Remus, Romulus, and Braun are all trapped in the Construct and the big ship that brought the crew to Mars can’t make it home without an AI. There’s also a lone killbot on the surface of Mars that the ground crew have to deal with. Finally, all of humanity is concerned that there will be yet another Pulse that will wipe out what remains of Earth’s human society. It was quite the thing to see how the author brought it all together. Definitely a worthy trilogy!