Sunday, April 26, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-04-25)

Only a few books this week, but one is a book I didn't realize how much I wanted to read until it landed on my doorstop. The other reminded me I hadn't read its predecessor.

The Great Bazaar & Brayan’s Gold by Peter Brett (Tachyon Publications 07/15/2015) – I think I’ve demonstrated that I’m a big fan of Brett’s work and his Demon Cycle novels. These ‘sidequel’ novellas are becoming a nice thing in the genre, Kevin Hearne, James S.A. Corey among others are doing them with more frequency. These two were originally published in limited edition from Subterranean Press and are now available more widely.

From the dangerous world of the Demon Cycle comes the early adventures of Arlen, Peter V. Brett’s quintessential fantasy hero. These exciting origin tales follow Arlen as he learns to navigate a world where the elemental forces of evil conjure themselves from the earth each night.

Humanity has barely survived a demonic onslaught by using magical wards that protect their cities and homes. Only a handful of mercenaries and explorers risk traveling after the sun sets. Arlen, seeking adventure and fortune, is barely protected by the warded armor upon which he has inscribed intricate defensive runes. From a journey ferrying a wagonload of dynamite to a mountain stronghold, to a dangerous mission to recover desert treasures, Arlen faces friends and enemies with a strong arm and a cunning wit.

Tide of Shadows and Other Stories by Aidan Moher (A Dribble of Ink 05/04/2015) – I’ve known Aidan for quite some time; he and I have been online pals for many years trading comments on each other’s blogs and twitter. His blog rightly won him a Hugo last year and this is first fiction collection.

From Aidan Moher—Hugo Award-winning editor of A Dribble of Ink—comes Tide of Shadows and Other Stories, a collection of five science fiction and fantasy stories spanning adventure, comic whimsy, and powerful drama—from a star-faring military science fiction tale of love and sacrifice, to a romp through the dragon-infested Kingdom of Copperkettle Vale.

“A Night for Spirits and Snowflakes” is the story of a young man reliving the last moments of his fellow soldiers’ lives; “The Girl with Wings of Iron and Down” tells the tale of a broken family and a girl with mechanical wings; “Of Parnassus and Princes, Damsels and Dragons” introduces a typical prince, princess, and dragon—and a not-so-typical love triangle; “The Colour of the Sky on the Day the World Ended” follows a girl and her ghost dog as they search for a bright light in the darkness; and “Tide of Shadows” is about a soldier and his lover, a mother, and planetwide genocide.

Queen of Fire (Raven’s Shadow Book Two) by Anthony Ryan (Ace Hardcover 07/07/2015) – Third novel in Anthony’s series, the first of which was his debut Blood Song which blew me away a couple of years ago. I’ve had book two, Tower Lord on Mount Toberead since last year. With the arrival of this ARC, I jumped into it.

“ In the thrilling conclusion to the “deftly and originally executed” (Booklist) New York Times bestselling trilogy, Vaelin Al Sorna must help his Queen reclaim her Realm. Only his enemy has a dangerous new collaborator, one with powers darker than Vaelin has ever encountered…”

“The Ally is there, but only ever as a shadow, unexplained catastrophe or murder committed at the behest of a dark vengeful spirit. Sorting truth from myth is often a fruitless task.”

After fighting back from the brink of death, Queen Lyrna is determined to repel the invading Volarian army and regain the independence of the Unified Realm. Except, to accomplish her goals, she must do more than rally her loyal supporters. She must align herself with forces she once found repugnant—those who possess the strange and varied gifts of the Dark—and take the war to her enemy’s doorstep.

Victory rests on the shoulders of Vaelin Al Sorna, now named Battle Lord of the Realm. However, his path is riddled with difficulties. For the Volarian enemy has a new weapon on their side, one that Vaelin must destroy if the Realm is to prevail—a mysterious Ally with the ability to grant unnaturally long life to her servants. And defeating one who cannot be killed is a nearly impossible feat, especially when Vaelin’s blood-song, the mystical power which has made him the epic fighter he is, has gone ominously silent…

Zer0es by Chuck Wendig (Harper Voyager 08/18/2015) – Chuck is one of the smartest, hardest working writers in SFF and this is his first Hardcover (exclusive) novel. I don’t know that I’ll be able to wait until later in the summer to dive into this one.

An exhilarating thrill-ride through the underbelly of cyber espionage in the vein of David Ignatius’s The Director and the television series Leverage, CSI: Cyber, and Person of Interest, which follows five iconoclastic hackers who are coerced into serving the U.S. government.

An Anonymous-style rabble rouser, an Arab spring hactivist, a black-hat hacker, an old-school cipherpunk, and an online troll are each offered a choice: go to prison or help protect the United States, putting their brains and skills to work for the government for one year.

But being a white-hat doesn’t always mean you work for the good guys. The would-be cyberspies discover that behind the scenes lurks a sinister NSA program, an artificial intelligence code-named Typhon, that has origins and an evolution both dangerous and disturbing. And if it’s not brought down, will soon be uncontrollable.

Can the hackers escape their federal watchers and confront Typhon and its mysterious creator? And what does the government really want them to do? If they decide to turn the tables, will their own secrets be exposed—and their lives erased like lines of bad code?

Combining the scientific-based, propulsive narrative style of Michael Crichton with the eerie atmosphere and conspiracy themes of The X-Files and the imaginative, speculative edge of Neal Stephenson and William Gibson, Zer0es explores our deep-seated fears about government surveillance and hacking in an inventive fast-paced novel sure to earn Chuck Wendig the widespread acclaim he deserves.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Round-Up: Reviews at SFFWorld, Mind Meld & Completist at SF Signal

Here's where I round up some of the SFF-related posts I've published over the past couple of weeks; most often reviews at SFFWorld and/or the various columns I write for SF Signal.  Going back the furthest is my review of The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu and translated by Ken Liu. The Three-Body Problem is the first major English publication of a Chinese SF novel and Liu is sort of like the equivalent to Arthur C. Clarke.

The Three-Body Problem is a novel spanning decades, galaxies, and civilizations while also showcasing intimate portraits of people caught up in the first communication between humanity and an alien species. The novel begins during China’s Cultural Revolution; a time of chaos and internal strife wherein Communism takes a stronger grip on China when a fairly prominent scientist is killed for protesting his thoughts. His daughter, Ye Wenjie, is of course affected by his death but moves into a life of science eventually working at Red Coast, a radar station for monitoring extra-terrestrial life in the late 1960s. Red Coast is also the source of many strange occurrences: people have suffered sickness and dizziness in its presence while animals show great anxiety and snow melts to rain when its antenna is extended. To say watching her father murdered before her eyes set her mind down a specific path is an understatement.
Liu’s narrative is not exactly linear as it is told from multiple points of view focusing on various points in time, but the whole of it builds a mesmerizing picture. As a Westerner, the world of China presented in the novel was alien in some ways, particularly the conversational patterns and the societal mores that come across from the dialogue as well as the culture on the whole. In effect, this gave a sense of not just one alien culture conversing with Earth across vast distances for the first time, but rather of two alien cultures meeting. What makes this all the more fascinating is that the physical description of the Trisolarians (what the Chinese/humans dub the aliens) is minimal and the fact that humans and Trisolarians don’t actually meet.

Also last week, my April Mind Meld was posted to SF Signal, wherein I asked Beth Cato, Cora Buhlert, Fran Wilde, Howard Andrew Jones, Joe Sherry, Kelly McCullough, Lisa McCurrach, and Rachel Aukes their thoughts about the following:

Q: What is your favorite story/novel/movie focusing on a City or the City as the Epic Road Trip destination?

A couple of weeks ago I read and enjoyed The Thorn of Dentonhill, the swashbuckling superhero sword & sorcery fantasy from Marshal Ryan Maresca. Following my staggered review schedule, I posted the review this week:

Veranix Calbert is a student at the University of Maradaine learning the history and uses of magic. He mostly keeps to himself, aside from a few close companions: Kaiana, a young woman and his closest friend who works in the custodial department of the University; his roommate Delmin; and his cousin Colin, a high-ranking member of the Rose Street Princes [a street gang]. Veranix mostly keeps to himself because when he isn’t in his dorm or classroom he roams the streets of Dentonhill trying to bring down the drug kingpin William Fenmere, the man responsible for both the death of Veranix’s father and the mindless state of Veranix’s mother. Veranix also has something of a Harry Potter/Dumbledore relationship with Alimen, the chief instructor of Veranix’s studies at the University. Alimen helped usher both Veranix and Kaiana into the University’s society and there’s a sense that he knows far more than he lets on about Veranix’s double life. Kai is aware of Veranix’s double life, and as the novel begins, she’s the only character who does. Alimen pushes Veranix to be a better student because he both worries for the young man’s safety and sees great potential in him.

The relationship between Kaiana and Veranix is filled with tension, Kai continually warns Veranix that he could get hurt or that his identity might be discovered. Veranix pushes the boundaries of what she’ll do to protect him and his identity. There’s a bit of romantic tension between the two, but at this point their relationship seems open to go in any direction. That is, Maresca hasn’t pigeon holed them as a romantic, but he hasn’t closed off that possibility either. I found it a bit refreshing that they didn’t end up paired up in this fashion, despite the rumors about the two of them that were floating around the University’s campus. However, when Delmin is finally introduced to Kai, Delmin finds himself drawn to her and not just because of their shared concern for and relationship with Veranix.

Lastly, just yesterday my April Completist column posted to SF Signal. In it, I discuss an author who has garnered his fair share of controversy. However, I highlight one of his lesser known, but perhaps most accessible series: Stephen R. Donaldson's Mordant's Need:

Mordant’s Need is a portal fantasy; that is, a person from “our world” travels through a portal or some other means to a different world, most often a world where magic and strange creatures live. In this case, the protagonist Terisa Morgan is a character who feels as if she has no purpose, a shrinking violet if you will. She lives in an apartment filled with mirrors so she can constantly see herself, not out of vanity, but rather to confirm her existence. A magician from the land of Mordant appears through a mirror seeking her aid. The magician, Geraden speaks of monsters “translated” to Mordant from other worlds. As serendipity/coincidence would have it, magic in the land of Mordant is connected to mirrors so Terisa’s mirror-laden apartment leads Geraden to believe he has found the right champion to fulfill Mordant’s need.
The pace also picks up in A Man Rides Through. He only touches upon some of the lands, enough that it makes you want to read more about those lands. Towards the final half of A Man Rides Through, Donaldson pulls together all the plot threads into one gestalt of a story which shows just how well constructed his plot and story was from the very start.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-04-18)

A pretty decent week of arrivals here. Oddly, three books arrived with authors whose last name begins with the letter “B

Emergence (Dave Vs. The Monsters #1) by John Birmingham (Del Rey Mass Market Paperback 06/09/2015) – Birmingham makes a slight switch from his alternate history Military SF novels into Military SF mixed with Horror, treading into the Jonathan Maberry and Larry Correia territory. Silly (and I suspect intentionally silly) series title aside, this looks like it could be a fun series. Way back in the early days of my reviewing I read and enjoyed Birmingham’s Weapons of Choice

For fans of Jim Butcher and Kevin Hearne comes an action-packed new urban fantasy series featuring a tough, bleakly funny, down-on-his luck oil rig worker with an unlikely destiny as a monster-slayer and savior of the planet.

“Monsters,” said Vince Martinelli. “There are monsters on the rig, Dave.”

Dave Hooper has a hangover from hell, a horrible ex-wife, and the fangs of the IRS deep in his side. The last thing he needs is an explosion at work. A real explosion. On his off-shore oil rig.

But this is no accident, and despite the news reports, Dave knows that terrorists aren’t to blame. He knows because he killed one of the things responsible.

When he wakes up in a hospital bed guarded by Navy SEALs, he realizes this is more than just a bad acid trip. Yeah, Dave’s had a few. This trip is way weirder.

Killing a seven-foot-tall, tattooed demon has transformed the overweight, balding safety manager into something else entirely. A foul-mouthed, beer-loving monster slayer, and humanity’s least worthy Champion.

Marie Brennan (Tor Hardcover 03/31/2015) – Third installment in Brennan’s been remarkably well-received series placing the discovery of Dragons in Victorian times. These are gorgeous looking books with Todd Lockwood’s fantastic art.

The thrilling adventure of Lady Trent continues in Marie Brennan's Voyage of the Basilisk . . . 

Devoted readers of Lady Trent's earlier memoirs, A Natural History of Dragons and The Tropic of Serpents, may believe themselves already acquainted with the particulars of her historic voyage aboard the Royal Survey Ship Basilisk, but the true story of that illuminating, harrowing, and scandalous journey has never been revealed--until now. 

Six years after her perilous exploits in Eriga, Isabella embarks on her most ambitious expedition yet: a two-year trip around the world to study all manner of dragons in every place they might be found. From feathered serpents sunning themselves in the ruins of a fallen civilization to the mighty sea serpents of the tropics, these creatures are a source of both endless fascination and frequent peril. Accompanying her is not only her young son, Jake, but a chivalrous foreign archaeologist whose interests converge with Isabella's in ways both professional and personal.

Science is, of course, the primary objective of the voyage, but Isabella's life is rarely so simple. She must cope with storms, shipwrecks, intrigue, and warfare, even as she makes a discovery that offers a revolutionary new insight into the ancient history of dragons.

The Darkling Child (Defenders of Shannara #2) by Terry Brooks (Del Rey Hardcover 06/09/2015) – It’s been quite some time since I read and enjoyed a Terry Brooks novel, but Aidan’s review of The Wards of Faerie in the previous Shannara series, as well as this, has me seriously considering giving Mr. Brooks another try.

From New York Times bestselling author Terry Brooks comes a thrilling stand-alone novel in his legendary Shannara series—the perfect place for new readers to begin.

After taking up his enchanted sword against the dark sorcerer Arcannen, Paxon Leah has become the sworn protector of the Druid order. Now a critical hour is at hand, as a beloved High Druid nears the end of her reign and prepares to pass from the mortal world to the one beyond. There is little time for Paxon to mourn his friend and benefactor before duty summons him. For in a distant corner of the Four Lands, the magic of the wishsong has been detected. Paxon must accompany a Druid emissary to find its source—and ensure the formidable power is not wielded by the wrong hands.

But danger is already afoot in the village of Portlow. Gentle traveling minstrel Reyn Frosch possesses the uncanny gift, and curse, of the wishsong. And now his coveted abilities have captured the malevolent interest of none other than Arcannen—whose quest for power is exceeded only by his thirst for vengeance. The lone survivor of a brutal assault on a notorious pirate city, the sorcerer is determined to retaliate against the Federation’s elite military guard—and use the devastating power of the wishsong as his ultimate weapon.

The Left-Hand Way by Tom Doyle (Tor, Hardcover 08/11/2015) – Doyles’ second novel and follow up to American Craftsmen .

Poe's Red Death returns, more powerful than ever. Can anyone stop him before he summons an apocalyptic nightmare even worse than himself?

In The Left-Hand Way, the second book of Tom Doyle's contemporary fantasy series, the American craftsmen are scattered like bait overseas. What starts as an ordinary liaison mission to London for Major Michael Endicott becomes a desperate chase across Europe, where Endicott is both hunted and hunter. Reluctantly joining him is his minder from MI13, Commander Grace Marlow, one of Her Majesty's most lethal magician soldiers, whose family has centuries of justified hostility to the Endicotts.

Meanwhile, in Istanbul and Tokyo, Endicott's comrades, Scherie Rezvani and Dale Morton, are caught in their own battles for survival against hired assassins and a ghost-powered doomsday machine. And in Kiev, Roderick Morton, the spider at the center of a global web, plots their destruction and his ultimate apotheosis. After centuries of imprisonment, nothing less than godlike power will satisfy Roderick, whatever the dreadful cost.

The Warring States (The Wave Trilogy #2) by Aidan Harte (Jo Fletcher Books Hardcover 04/07/2015) –Very nearly an exact year after the release of the first book in the series publishes in the US, book 2 publishes.

Interzone raved that "Harte is a brilliant new voice is historical fantasy." In The Warring States, Aidan Harte continues his high fantasy adventure began in Irenicon.

After the rout at Rasenna, Concord faces enemies on all fronts, and nobody believes that the last surviving Apprentice is equal to these crises--but Torbidda didn't become Apprentice by letting himself be manipulated.

While Sofia is struggling to understand her miraculous pregnancy, the City of Towers grows wealthy. But it's not long before the people of Rasenna start arguing again, and as the city falls apart once more, Sofia realises she must escape Etruria to save her baby. When prophecy leads her to another cesspit of treachery, the decadent Crusader kingdom of Oltremare, Sofia begins to despair, for this time she can see no way out.

Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville (Del Rey, Hardcover 08/04/2014) – This is Miéville’s second collection of short fiction after the well-received first collection Three Moments of an Explosion which Hobbit reviewed.

The fiction of multiple award–winning author China Miéville is powered by intelligence and imagination. Like George Saunders, Karen Russell, and David Mitchell, he pulls from a variety of genres with equal facility, employing the fantastic not to escape from reality but instead to interrogate it in provocative, unexpected ways.

London awakes one morning to find itself besieged by a sky full of floating icebergs. Destroyed oil rigs, mysteriously reborn, clamber from the sea and onto the land, driven by an obscure but violent purpose. An anatomy student cuts open a cadaver to discover impossibly intricate designs carved into a corpse’s bones—designs clearly present from birth, bearing mute testimony to . . . what?

Of such concepts and unforgettable images are made the twenty-eight stories in this collection—many published here for the first time. By turns speculative, satirical, and heart-wrenching, fresh in form and language, and featuring a cast of damaged yet hopeful seekers who come face-to-face with the deep weirdness of the world—and at times the deeper weirdness of themselves—Three Moments of an Explosion is a fitting showcase for one of literature’s most original voices.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-04-11)

Just one book this week here at the o' Stuff...

Liar’s Key (Book Two of The Red Queen’s War) by Mark Lawrence (Hardcover 06/02/2015 Ace) – Second installment in the Mark’s follow-up series to The Broken Empire. I’;ve got the first book Prince of Fools on Mount Toberead.

Prince of Fools, The Red Queen’s War: Book One had all “the hallmarks of [Mark Lawrence’s] storytelling and writing style which made The Broken Empire trilogy such an incredibly addictive read” ( Now, The Liar’s Key continues the story of the unusual fellowship between a rogue prince and a weary warrior…

After harrowing adventure and near-death, Prince Jalan Kendeth and the Viking Snorri ver Snagason find themselves in possession of Loki’s Key, an artefact capable of opening any door, and sought by the most dangerous beings in the Broken Empire—including The Dead King. 

Jal wants only to return home to his wine, women, and song, but Snorri has his own purpose for the key: to find the very door into death, throw it wide, and bring his family back into the land of the living.

And as Snorri prepares for his quest to find death’s door, Jal’s grandmother, the Red Queen continues to manipulate kings and pawns towards an endgame of her own design.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Friday Round-Up: Peter V. Brett, Myke Cole, and Me at SFFWorld

A couple of new reviews over the past couple of weeks at SFFWorld, and the reviews happen to be of books by writers who are best friends.

On the day the book was released, I posted my review of Peter V. Brett’s The Skull Throne, the fourth installment of his Demon Cycle series, which I’ve been enjoying a great deal. This is his strongest novel yet:

 Links to SFFWorld Review

We see why The Skull Throne is titled as such; Jardir’s seeming death leaves the Throne of Krasia quite empty with many people vying to keep it warm in his absence, chief among those are his many children. Here we see the land of Everam’s Bounty, which is what the Krasian’s have renamed the land they’ve conquered and is their base of operations in the Greenlands. Although Jardir’s relatives may be the players vying for the throne, the returning Inevara and Abban are the puppet masters pulling the strings. Chief among the players are Asome and Jayan, two of Jardir’s sons; both of whom are headstrong and in the case of Jayan, to a fatalistic and nearly cartoonish degree. In fact, I’d even say that Jayan is a more dangerously immature than a certain young royal of King’s Landing. Jayan takes no advice and sees nearly every action as a slight to him and he responds to even the most minor slight with the equivalent of Scorched Earth Policy.
Another character who continues to grab my attention is Abban, the handicapped advisor to Jardir and Inevera. What he lacks in physical prowess, he more than compensates for in mental craftiness. Although I might not want to associate with such a character in real life, as a character he is a delight to read. Though the easy comparison is to Tyrion, I found much more in common with Mocker from Glen Cook’s Dread Empire series or Kruppe from Erikson & Esslemont’s Malazan novels.

Most recently (earlier this week), I posted my review of Myke Cole’s Gemini Cell, set in his Shadow OPS milieu but not connected to the original three books by anything other than the same world. Like Peter’s book above, Gemini Cell is Myke’s best published book:

 Links to SFFWorld review

… this is the perfect entry point for new readers. In it, Myke introduces readers to Jim Schweitzer, a Navy SEAL, husband, and father. Like many soldiers/operators, he is torn between his military life and his family life. His wife Sarah is an artist and her career is beginning to flourish. As the novel starts, Sarah is having a major exhibition of her work and unfortunately, Jim is called away in the middle of the exhibition by the Navy for an emergency mission.
Gemini Cell is rewarding for both new readers interested in sampling Myke’s novels and readers who have followed the exploits of the Supernatural Operations Corps through the first three Shadow OPS novels. A glimpse into the early days is a fascinating thing as the military is barely understanding the magic they are trying to exploit as part of its toolset. New readers can see things at the foundation of the milieu while readers like myself can see that beginning and realize how relatively far the military has come in exploiting magic.

Also last week, I was interviewed by Nila White, one of the moderators of SFFWorld and the editor of the SFFWorld anthologies. We've been doing a series of interviews with forum members and behind-the-scenes folks and my turn was last week.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Books in the Mail (W/E 2015-04-04)

Here's the weekly installment of Books in the Mail, brought to you by Orbit Books and Tor.

Trailer Park Fae (The First of the Gallow and Ragged #1) by Lilith Saintcrow (Orbit Books Trade Paperback / eBook 06/23/2015) – Saintcrow continues to churn out books at an impressive pace. This, the first in a new series, has a terrific Dos Santos cover.

New York Times bestselling author Lilith Saintcrow returns to dark fantasy with a new series where the fairy world inhabits diners, dive bars and trailer parks.

Jeremy Gallow is just another construction worker, and that's the way he likes it. He's left his past behind, but some things cannot be erased. Like the tattoos on his arms that transform into a weapon, or that he was once closer to the Queen of Summer than any half-human should be. Now the half-sidhe all in Summer once feared is dragged back into the world of enchantment, danger, and fickle fae - by a woman who looks uncannily like his dead wife. Her name is Robin, and her secrets are more than enough to get them both killed. A plague has come, the fullborn-fae are dying, and the dark answer to Summer's Court is breaking loose.

Be afraid, for Unwinter is riding...

The Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson (Tor Hardcover 04/21/2015) – Near future social SF from a writer who has yet to disappoint me.

In our rapidly-changing world of "social media", everyday people are more and more able to sort themselves into social groups based on finer and finer criteria. In the near future of Robert Charles Wilson's The Affinities, this process is supercharged by new analytic technologies--genetic, brain-mapping, behavioral. To join one of the twenty-two Affinities is to change one's life. It's like family, and more than family. Your fellow members aren't just like you, and they aren't just people who are likely to like you. They're also the people with whom you can best cooperate in all areas of life--creative, interpersonal, even financial.

At loose ends both professional and personal, young Adam Fisk takes the suite of tests to see if he qualifies for any of the Affinities, and finds that he's a match for one of the largest, the one called Tau. It's utopian--at first. Problems in all areas of his life begin to simply sort themselves out, as he becomes part of a global network of people dedicated to helping one another--to helping him.

But as the differing Affinities put their new powers to the test, they begin to rapidly chip away at the power of governments, of global corporations, of all the institutions of the old world. Then, with dreadful inevitability, the different Affinities begin to go to war--with one another.

What happens next will change Adam, and his world, forever.

The Architect of Aeons by John C. Wright (Tor Hardcover 04/21/2015) – Third in Wright’s Space Opera which began with Count to a Trillion.

The epic and mind-blowing finale to this visionary space opera series surpasses all expectation: Menelaus Montrose, having forged an uneasy alliance with his immortal adversary, Ximen del Azarchel, maps a future on a scale beyond anything previously imagined. No longer concerned with the course of history across mere millennia, Montrose and del Azarchel have become the architects of aeons, bringing forth minds the size of planets as they steer the bizarre intellectual descendants of an extinct humanity.

Ever driving their labors and their enmity is the hope of reunion with their shared lost love, the posthuman Rania, whose eventual return is by no means assured, but who may unravel everything these eternal rivals have sought to achieve.

John C. Wright's The Architect of Aeons is the latest in his millennia spanning space opera.