This is the second of the Ariane Kedros books written by Laura E. Reeve. All together, it is grimmer than the first book, as the members of the isolationist sect are a nasty, brutish lot, willing to do whatever it takes to succeed in their plot. They are probably vertically challenged to boot.
Reeve once again spins up multiple plotlines from multiple viewpoint characters, then weaves them into a single tale. One of those plotlines feels weaker than the others for a good third of the book, as it is structured as a mystery of sorts, with the AFCAW military and the Terran authorities tracking down a potentially missing temporal distortion weapon. The characters in the other plotlines, though, know about the missing temporal distortion weapon well before the military catches up, and so this arc fell flat for me. But once the plotlines all merge together, it was forgivable, given the tense and meaningfully high-stakes climax.
The cultural clash between the Terran Expansion League and the Consortium of Autonomous Worlds grows even more central to the plot in this novel. The isolationists stem from a Terran sector, but are acting on their own, causing an uneasy alliance between the Terran Expansion League and the Consortium of Autonomous Worlds. Since G-145 is a newly developed system, the generational ship that planted the time buoy there has control of the system, and so the culture of the “crèche-born” who live and run that generational ship also play a very important role. As a result, we get some interesting new characters, and further development of those from the first book.
This book features more of the Minoans as well, so if you were pumped to see more of a great treatment of an eerie, enigmatic, advanced alien race, then you will definitely enjoy that. Definitely got a slight Vorlon vibe, not that that’s ever a bad vibe to get.
COVER ART NOTE: I botched the back cover picture, the text is not actually anywhere near that slanted. Apologies!
COVER ART REVIEW: definitely a step down from the first book. The composition is pretty good, not as great as the last one, and Ariane Kedros looks more haunted, which is appropriate… but I am pretty sure that 90% of all military science fiction / sci-fi book covers that display a main character fondling a massive Gatling cannon as it chugs down ammo and spews dakka off-cover actually never have a main character fondle a massive Gatling cannon and use it to mow down enemies in the actual book.