Just for Fun reading challenge 2012

The newest Toby Daye book! The sixth book in the series.

Publication year: 2012
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Mary Robinette Kowal
Running Time: 12 hrs and 26 minutes

A year has passed since the tragic events at the end of the previous book, One Salt Sea. October Day, Toby, is trying to recover and not think about Tybalt. But she feels like she isn’t in control of her life anymore and she’s taking more and more unnecessary risks. Her former fetch (a death omen), May, her would-be lover Tybalt, and her squire Quentin are all worried.

Then a fellow knight, Etienne, asks for her help with finding his half-blooded daughter who has been kidnapped. Etienne had had a brief relationship with a folklore teacher years ago and didn’t even know that he had a child until the child’s mother, Bridget, call him in panic, accusing him of kidnapping Chelsea. Toby and the gang are shocked by Etienne’s revelation because he has always been a very by-the-book faerie and very unlikely get involved with a mortal, but circumstances were exceptional. It turns out that Chelsea is already sixteen and she has her father’s teleporting abilities. Most likely, some faerie has kidnapper her for their own nefarious schemes. To muddle things more, Chelsea’s mother Bridget knows something about the faeries and doesn’t trust any of them, especially Etienne and the suspicions fairies he has sent. However, Bridget doesn’t really have any other choice but to help Toby and Quentin.

Chelsea doesn’t know anything about Faerie but she has been secretly experimenting with her powers. She hasn’t said anything to her mother who has always said that they need to keep her powers a secret.

All of the familiar cast returns and I love them. May has been officially designated Toby’s twin sister, and she and Quentin live together with Toby in a rather large house which is owned by Toby’s liege lord, Sylvester. Tybalt, the suave King of Cats, has problems of his own; his underlings aren’t happy that he has become close to a changeling and some are taking matters into their own hands. Also, his heir and Toby’s friend Raj has disappeared. Tybalt has a big presence in the book and I really enjoyed that. We also get to visit the technologically inclined faeries of Tamed Lighting who were introduced in the second book. And of course Toby needs help from the sea witch Luidaeg with tracking down Chelsea.

The brief scene with Luidaeg gives some surprising insights into her personality and life, and are among my favorite scenes from the book. Indeed, many of the characters get further development. We get to see how Quentin has learned under Toby’s tutelage and May gets to stand up to Toby.

My favorite parts of the previous books have been the characters, the expanding world, and the dialog. They are all great in this book, too. The characters feel like old friends to me and many of them are friends who have survive horrible things together. That shows in their interactions. We also get to visit a couple of new places and learn more about Tybalt’s background.

The story starts with a familiar premise: Toby looking for a lost child and getting help from the sea witch. Fortunately, beyond that there’s little repetition of the previous books.

My only complaint is that Toby gets hurt a lot, although mostly physically this time. I’m very happy with the ending. This is a great continuation of the series although it’s not as an emotionally gut wrenching as the previous book.

The first of the City Watch books.

Publication year: 1989
Publication year of the Finnish translation: 2001
Format: print
Finnish translator: Maija Sinkkonen
Page count: 334
Finnish Publisher: Karisto

Ankh-Morpork’s City Guard is in a bad way; Captain Vimes has only two underlings and he drinks constantly. It’s not wonder when criminals are doing their criminal work legally and all the three watchmen are allowed to do is ring their bell and call that everything is alright.

Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, Carrot Ironfoundersson doesn’t know that. He was raised by dwarfs but on his sixteenth birthday he’s told that he wasn’t born a dwarf but was found as a child from the woods. Carrot’s parents have decided that it would be better for Carrot to return to his kind. They write to the Patrician of Ankh-Morpok to ask that Carrot be allowed to join the illustrious City Guard. He’s accepted. Carrot is used to doing what he’s told and even though he’s sad to leave the only life he’s known so far, he heads towards Ankh-Morpok, reading his book of the city’s laws so that he could be well prepared. After he arrests the leader of the Thieves Guild, Captain Vimes tries to make him more adapted to the life in the city.

Meanwhile, the Unique and Supreme Lodge of the Elucidated Brethren of the Ebon Night wants to take over the city, to repay all slights (real or imagined) to the members. Their Supreme Grand Master is sometimes almost baffled by the stupidity of the others. Still, they are determined to summon a dragon to burn the city down so that the King of Ankh-Morpok would come, slay the dragon, and make the city more just. The Supreme Grand Master even has a suitable man for the job. To their own astonishment, they succeed. However, things don’t go quite the way that the secret brotherhood wanted.

The City Guard has quite interesting characters. Captain Vimes is cynical and very depressed about his job and life. Sergeant Colon is “one of nature’s sergeants”; he tries to avoid all exertion but is dependable. He’s married and his wife works during the day and Colon works nights. This is said to be the reason for their happiness. Corporeal “Nobby” Nobbs is very untidy and about as tall as a dwarf. He smokes constantly and there’s a veritable graveyard of tobacco stumps behind his ear. He and Colon have strange discussions which are sometimes philosophical. All of these three know that they are considered scum of the city. Carrot is completely different, not only in looks, since he’s over six feet tall and muscular, but also in attitude. Carrot’s enthusiasm and naivete inspires Captain Vimes in the end when it’s up to the City Guard to protect their city.

Lady Sybil Ramkin is a significant secondary character. She’s one of the high old nobility and very eccentric (I think she’s gentle parody of the British aristocracy). She breeds swamp dragons and the dragons are pretty much everything to her. Still, when things get tough, she’s quite level-headed and sensible. And in defiance to the fantasy traditions of small and young and delicate little princesses, Lady Ramkin is big, fat, middle-aged, and tends to wear rubber boots.

Along the way Pratchett makes wry observations about dwarven culture, the nature of libraries, and the nature of humans. Oh and the discussions near the end about how one chance in a million will always succeed is priceless!

One of my favorite Discworld books.

“People who are rather more than six feet tall and nearly as broad across the shoulders often have uneventful journeys. People jump out at them from behind rocks then say things like, “Oh. Sorry. I thought you were someone else.””

“Thunder rolled. … It rolled a six.”

“The three rules of the Librarians of Time and Space are: 1) Silence; 2) Books must be returned no later than the date last shown; and 3) Do not interfere with the nature of causality.”

“If there was anything that depressed him more than his own cynicism, it was that quite often it still wasn’t as cynical as real life.”

The third book in the urban fantasy trilogy with superheroes.

Publication year: 2012
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Rebecca Wiscoky
Running Time: 10 hrs and 47 minutes

Justine Jones is a hypochondriac; she’s convinced that a vein in her head is going to burst and kill her. After all, her mother died of a vein star syndrome. However, she’s found a way to make her fears work for her. For a while she was a ember of the Disillusionists, a group of people who can manifest their fears into other people and hopefully make them reform their lives. Unfortunately, their handsome but manipulative leader Sterling Packard turned out to be a cold-blooded murderer and now he’s on the run.

Meanwhile, Justine is engaged to the man of her dreams. She’s happily, if nervously, planning their wedding but something doesn’t seem quite right.

Head Rush starts immediately after the shocking ending of Double Cross. All of the familiar cast returns, well, the live ones, anyway. We also get to meet Justine’s dad who was a great character. He has a phobia about germs and Justine is afraid that he’ll go the church in his Hazmat suit.

The first half of the book focuses on Justine trying to figure out a mystery which the reader already knows. The book also focuses on the romantic aspect more than the previous books. Unfortunately for me, I don’t really care for the romantic lead and I’m not romance reader. However, the rest of the cast are very entertaining and Justine is a hilarious narrator, when she isn’t angsting.

Still, Head Rush is far more predictable than the previous two books because certain things have to happen to get a romantic happy ending. However, it ties up the plot lines satisfyingly.

Recently, I found out that there are two novellas in the series, but with different point-of-view characters. I’ll probably get them.

The first chapter is available on the author’s site for free.

Publication year: 1988
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Celia Imrie
Running Time: 10 hrs and 27 minutes

The tiny kingdom of Lancre has three witches: Gytha ”Nanny” Ogg, Esmeralda ”Granny” Weatherwax, and the young Magrat Garlick. Granny is one of the most experienced witches alive and ”most highly regarded of the leaders, of [whom the witches] don’t have”. She’s grouchy and doesn’t have any family. She’ also very powerful but prefers to use headology rather than magic. She doesn’t approve of much. In contrast, Nanny has a large family and she rules them ruthlessly. She’s more easygoing and Granny’s best friend. Magrat is a new witch who is trying very hard to impress the other witches. She even suggested that they should form a coven. She believes in crystals and other New Age stuff, to the other witches’ annoyance.

On a dark and stormy night, a man appears and gives them an infant and a crown. Even the witches have heard that their king has died. A bit later, a group of soldiers come to threaten the witches for the child. The witches don’t give in and instead most of the men flee. The witches decide to hide the kid and what would be a better place than group of traveling actors? The witches see the show (a first time for both Granny and Nanny) and in the end give the kid to the childless actors. The witches even give the kid three gifts, fairy godmother style. Little Tomjohn’s childhood is interesting, to say the least.

Meanwhile, in the castle, king Verence’s ghost is trying to get used to being dead. Apparently, his cousin Duke Felmet and his ambitious and determined wife have killed him and taken over the small land, and it’s Verence’s destiny to haunt the castle until his heir takes it back. Verence’s mood isn’t lifted when he finds out that the castle is haunted by a variety of the earlier owners, some of the Verence’s ancestors.

Duke Felmet is actually not happy with the situation. He’s haunted by what he has done and is trapped in a loveless marriage. He blames the trees. There are a lot of trees in Lancre.

Felmet has a new fool who is quite a tragic figure. His past is pretty horrible in the awful school for fools. He also didn’t choose his profession; his grandfather just made him continue the family tradition.

Obviously, MacBeth has inspired this book. There’s also a Hamlet-like ghost. Hwel, the dwarven script writer for the troupe, channels Shakespeare and tries out various wordings.

There’s a lot of things going on in the book. According to Granny and the Fool words are dangerous things because they can change how people view things and remember the past, no matter what really happened. Pratchett explores this through the actors and the Fool.

“The past is what people remember, and memories are words. Who knows how a king behaved a thousand years ago? There is only recollection, and stories.” the Fool

“Things that try to look like things often do look more like things than things. Well-known fact.” Granny Weatherwax

One of my favorite Discworld books!

This is the first time I’ve listened a Pratchett book and I really enjoyed Imrie’s reading. She has individual voices to all witches and most of the supporting cast, too. Death has a very echoy voice and I would swear that he has a male voice but there’s no mention of a male voice actor.

A stand-alone SF book set in a post-Soviet Union Russia with a healthy dose of Russian myths.

Publication year: 2003
Format: print
Page count: 427
Publisher: TOR

Elena Irinovna is an astrophysicist and she used to work in the U.S.S.R.’s space program. After the collapse of the Soviet government, the space program was ruthlessly cut down and Elena was one of the people who ended up unemployed. Like most people, she’s trying to survive as best she can. She and her family live in Kazakhstan. She managed to get a job as a cleaner and smuggles stolen goods in order to get so much money that she, her mother, and her sister can move to Canada. On a run to Uzbekistan to sell clothing, her ride is stopped at the border and she runs into a corpse which has a curious, small object in his hand. Elena takes it.

In St. Petersburg, Ilya Muromyets is again near death but like all other times before, a rusalka appears and heals him. Ilya was born 800 years ago and is one of the legendary Russian Sons of the Sun, a bogatyr. However, in recent years he’s been very depressed and looking for death. Only heroin has given him a little solace. Then, a strange man called Kovalin appears in his apartment. Kovalin claims that he knows what Ilya is and he might even help Ilya – if Ilya helps Kovalin first. Ilya agrees to find a strange object Kovalin is looking for.

The book has nine parts and each part has at least one chapter set in a world called Byelovodye where Colonel Anikova and her team are looking for a small object. Anikova’s team includes a Mechvor who can look into other people’s thoughts and dreams.

Elena’s and Ilya’s lives have become bleak and desperate. Elena still dreams about stars but she doesn’t believe that she can return to anything like her old job, even in Canada. At the same time, she’s lucky because she has a job and can even save money. The book portrays the brutal reality of the modern Russians and parts of it are really depressing to read. Elena’s sister was a lawyer and now she’s a waitress and resorts to prostitution, too. Elena wants to protect her family but that’s not easy.

Ilya is a figure from Russian legends and we get to see a few more of the centuries old Russian heroes. For a long time, Ilya tried to live up to the legend but ended up as a soldier in various wars. He became bitter and disillusioned, and now longs for death. However, he still has the instincts to protect others from the rusalki, the female monsters from mythology.

Byelovodye is a fascinating place and also from Russian myths. It’s said to be another world where dreams can come true. The question is, whose dreams?

The plot is slow at times, when our protagonists travel around, and furious at other times. There aren’t many fight scenes but they’re fast. Once again, people (and others) are usually not what they appear at first glance.

I liked the ideas more than the characters and I would have loved to see more of the Byelovodye’s side.

A stand-alone SF book.

Publication year: 2003
Format: print
Page count: 358
Publisher: TOR

The Poison Master begins in 1547 when Doctor John Dee is trying to convince Sir John Cheke that Dee’s large mechanical bee can be made to fly – with ropes and pulleys. Dee is a mathematician and dreams of calculating astronomical journeys. We follow his experiments throughout the years. The book has twelve parts with two to five short chapters, and each part begins with a chapter about John Dee.

But the main character of the book is Alchemical Apothecary Alivet Dee whose twin sister has been Enbonded to the Lords of Night. Alivet is trying to make enough money that she can buy her sister free. She’s even moved to the fringes of the city of Levanah because the rent is lower and she can save more money that way. As an apothecary, Alivet makes drugs and perfumes, and her biggest employer is Genever Thant who arranges for new experiences for the jaded rich. On her free time, Alivet takes part in the Search where the humans are put under a trance and search their subconscious for information about their origin. The Unpriests, who serve the Lords of Night, have made the Search illegal so it’s done is secret.

But then everything goes wrong. During an experience orchestrated by Thant, one of Thant’s clients dies. Thant flees and so does Alivet who suspects that Thant will blame her. To Alivet’s surprise, a man from another planet contacts Alivet and wants her help in overthrowing the Lords. In exchange, the man will help Alivet free her twin. Alivet agrees.

The red-eyed man from the planet Hathes is Arieth Ghairen, the Poison Master. Alivet can’t trust him and yet she’s attracted to him. Ghairen takes Alivet through a portal and into a starship and then to his world, where she can start to work on an alchemical poison which could defeat the Lords of Night.

I really enjoyed the world building. The book has two distinct worlds. Alivet’s home is Latent Emanations, where a large group of humans live, essentially enslaved by the Lords of Night and to their Unpriests. The Unpriests use high technology which is forbidden from the rest of the population. The world has also a native species, the anubes, whose passion seems to be traveling and brining other people to their destination. They seem quite independent from the humans. Ghairen’s world Hathes has high technology which seems to be available to all. Hathes has also a native population which seems to be enslaved by the humans. They work as servants and live is squalor.

The people who live in Latent Emanation know that the Lords of Night have brought them there, but they don’t know from where they have come and they don’t seem to remember much of their previous culture. For example, Alivet has a locket her grandmother gave her. It has a carving of a crucified man but Alivet doesn’t know who he is or why he’s depicted that way. The Lords take men and women to their palaces from time to time, and they aren’t seen after that. The Unpriests are feared and they seem to sort of keep up law, but in an unpredictable way which make the population scared of them. Both men and woman are Unpriests.

Also, the drugs Alivet use are somehow alive. They have souls and Alivet can communicate with them when she’s in a trance.

Alivet is a very active protagonist. She’s determined to get her sister back and willing to do whatever it takes. If that means having to work with a Poison Master, so be it. Even though Alivet is attracted to Ghairen, she doesn’t trust him, and he’s very close mouthed about his past and motives. Alivet is also curious and wants to solve mysteries. While she’s attracted to Ghairen, she’s determined to get business done with before she even thinks about him more, so this isn’t a romance.

John Dee is greatly interested in mathematics. He’s a religious man and he thinks that he’s just using the brain that his God gave him, even though religious authorities call his work heresy. We follow his life through decades and as far as I can tell, most of it is accurate, except that in this book he sees angels and communicates with them.

An interesting parallel between the two Dees is that in John’s chapters, all the people are male, except for the brief appearances of Dee’s wife and Queen Elizabeth, while in Alivet’s chapters most of the characters are women. In John’s time it’s because the people who had the leisure and power to engage in alchemy and mathematics, were male. With Alivet, the people closest to her are her sister and aunt. Later, the people she meets are mostly women. I don’t know if this is a conscious parallel.

The plot advances at a good pace but the ending is somewhat abrupt.

The eighth book in the mystery series.

Publication year: 1996
Format: Audio
Publisher: Belinda Audio
Narrator: Stephanie Daniel
Running Time: 6 hrs and 28 minutes

The eighth book in the series takes Phryne away from most of the established cast and to a classic mystery in a very constricted and secluded place. Phryne has been invited to visit the Cave House, a mansion of mixed styles in the middle of mountains. With her are her maid Dot, her lover Lin Chung, and Lin’s bodyguard/manservant Li Pen. When they are driving towards the house, they hear a gunshot and rescue a frightened maid. Nobody seems to know who has molested her.

Cave House’s owner is Phryne’s old friend Tom Reynolds but she hasn’t met his new, rich wife Evelyn. The House also has several interesting guests, such as a Polish poet, a young heiress and her imposing mother who is trying to find a husband to her daughter, a very religious older woman who is interested in gathering more money to her Church, a couple of young men down on their luck, and a misogynistic colonel and his down trodden wife. Soon Phryne realizes that Tom is in deep trouble: someone tries to kill him. Then the river overflows and the guests are trapped in the house, with their secrets.

The audio book has again a short interview between Daniel and Greenwood at the end. Greenwood says that she wrote this book as a deliberate homage/twist of the old Agatha Christie type mysteries. The book has many of the classic mystery elements and Greenwood twists some of them quite deliciously.

Phryne and Lin, from Ruddy Gore, are now an item and a lot of people can’t stomach that. Some of the Cave House’s staff and guests don’t care for the Chinese and Phryne battles racism with quite a straight forward style, using her money and influence.

One interesting twist is that neither Phryne or Evelyn were born with money and so can appreciate it the way that those born with it necessarily don’t. Another great addition to the series!

The sixth Phryne Fisher book set in the 1920s Australia. Finally in Audible!

Publication year: 1994
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Stephanie Daniel
Running Time: 7 hrs and 22 minutes

Mr. Christopher is found dead in his room in the boarding house he is staying. The boarding house doesn’t lack for suspects, because most of the boarders are dancers, circus worker, or otherwise of questionable morals. However, one of the boarders, Miss Parks, has been recently released from prison after she had been imprisoned for a long time since she had been found guilty of killing her husband and most boarders immediately agree that she must have killed the Christopher. When young constable Tommy Harrison and his superior John, Jack, Robinson start investigating the murder, they find out that Christoper was a hermaphrodite, and a woman loved him as a man while a man loved her as a woman. He/she worked in Farrell’s traveling circus. Then the cops get mixed up with the local gangsters.

Meanwhile, the Honorable Phryne Fisher is bored. Her adopted daughters are at school, the Butlers, her lovers, and even her maid are away. She longs for human contact and just then three of her friends from a traveling circus and carnival ask for her help. Strange things have been happening in Farrell’s Circus and Wild Beast Show, and Alan, Samson, and Doreen are afraid that their livelihood is in danger. So, Phryne agrees to take the plunge into a whole another world and investige the circus undercover. She takes on a pseudonym and becomes a trick-horse rider, drawing on her past when she was poor.

Soon, Phryne feels lonely in the circus, too. She realizes that the circus has a rigid caste system and beliefs which separates the circus people from the “carnies” and the gypsies and the foreigners, clowns shouldn’t have lovers because then they aren’t sad enough to be funny, and anyone crossing those lines are thought as a weirdo among freaks. Fortunately, Phryne makes quick friends, too.

The book has a large cast of characters. Only some of the familiar characters make an appearance and then only briefly; most of the time Phryne is in the circus and Robinson is investigating his case. The new characters are very interesting bunch, as you might expect from circus people. I also thought they were very human with superstitions and flaws and unexpected depths. I liked especially the dwarf although he didn’t have many scenes.

Phryne also has to confront her need for approval. She’s very lonely and depressed when she doesn’t have, well, admiring friends or lovers around her. She will do quite a lot to get that approval. She also realizes how much she really likes being rich; having fancy clothing, good food, and servants.

I doubt that the cast here will become regulars the same way that many of the previous books’ casts have become. But I hope we will see them sometime again.

The audio book has a short discussion between Greenwood and the reader Daniels. Greenwood says that she wanted to shake the complacency which might have built up in the previous books, taking Phryne away from her familiar routines and people. She was very successful in this. She also revealed that when she was twelve, she had run away to the circus with a couple of friends. The circus folk returned them to their parents but Greenwood had learned to trick ride. Fascinating!

The fourth story in the Clockwork Century series.

Publication year: 2011
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Edoardo Ballerini
Running Time: 12 hrs and 9 minutes

Josephine Early runs a bordello house in New Orleans. She, and all of her girls, are of mixed race and she knows very well how precarious her position is. Not surprisingly, she supports the Union. However, for years now New Orleans has been a occupied city. The city was first conquered by the Union because of the port and the river but then it was reconquered by Texas which is still occupying it. The locals don’t like the Texans at all but few can do anything about the situation. Josephine if one of those few.

She’s a spy for the Union and she’s involved in other plots, as well. Her brother runs with the local pirates and her pet project is the Ganymede, a war ship that sails underwater. However, she needs a crew she can rely on and who are brave enough to sail the Ganymede. The previous crews drowned. Her last chance is an old lover whom she hasn’t seen in ten years: Andan Cly. And then there’s the zombie problem.

Andan Cly is thinking about settling down. He’s almost respectable now; running supplies to the underground city of Seattle instead of pirating. He’s also met a spirited woman who is another reason to settle down. He agrees to make a supply run for the city’s de facto ruler, Jaychoo (spelling?), and others when he receives a telegram from Josephine and decides to go to New Orleans to see her, perhaps for the last time.

I was a bit hesitant to get this book because of the many mixed reviews around. However, Ganymede was just as fun as the previous books and I was glad I bought it. The story has a mix of old and new characters. While the story starts in New Orleans with new characters, it moves quickly to Seattle, where we meet most of Boneshaker’s cast and Mercy from the previous book. This was great. We also get information about the giant machines which keep the air in the underground city breathable; they’re old and haven’t been repaired or serviced for a long time. I will be hugely surprised if Priest doesn’t follow this up in some next book.

The zombies have spread from Seattle to the rest of the US even though most folks don’t yet believe they exist. Cly and his small crew know about them, so they have no problem fighting the rotters.

Unfortunately, the story had some problems as well. There’s a continuity mistake with Cly and Mercy. They appear to meet for the first time in this book.. except that Cly flew Mercy to Seattle in Dreadnought. I was also left wondering why the underwater ship didn’t have any sailors in the crew. I also thought that Cly agreed to sail the Ganymede a bit too easily considering that the previous crews had all died. I also liked Kate Reading’s narration a lot better than Ballerini’s. I would have preferred it if he hadn’t tried to make female voices. Unfortunately, he apparently didn’t know anything about Angeline or about Lucy O’Gunning because their voices are pretty similar to the prostitutes. (In Boneshaker it was established that Angeline has a damaged throat so she doesn’t sound like a “normal” woman.)

The characters are again great. Josephine is a resourceful woman in the early forties (yes, forties!). She carries a gun and is fully aware of the dangers in all of her professions. She’s also very protective of her underlings and her brother, and she passionately wants Texas out of her city. Her ladies are all practical and have their own quirks.

Cly is equally protective of his crew and he’s also a very capable man. He thinks a bit about his former life with Josephine but thankfully doesn’t angst about it. One of his crewmen is out of Seattle for the first time and Cly acts as a sort of mentor and father figure to him.

This was more uneven than the previous stories but I’m eagerly waiting for the next book.

A new book in the Diving universe! It’s the third book in the series after Diving into the Wreck and City of Ruins. Some spoilers for those two books.

Publication year: 2012
Format: Audio
Publisher: Audible
Narrator: Jennifer van Dyck
Running Time: 9 hrs and 49 minutes

Boneyards opens five years after the end of City of Ruins. The crew of the Ivuar has had a rough time when they are adjusting to their new life. Some have resigned and left, and a few have killed themselves. However, some are still working for their Captain Coop. Boss has employed Coop and his crew, and together they are trying to find out what happened to the world Coop knew. They are also doing their best to keep all technology out of the hands of the Enterran Empire. They are researching all clues they can find about the Dignity Vessels and sector bases which where functional five thousand years ago. What or who destroyed a society powerful enough to build them?

About half of the book focuses on Squishy. Twenty years ago she used to work for the Empire researching Stealth Tech but when she realized just how dangerous it was, she quit and left for wreck diving. She worked for a while with Boss. When the story starts, she’s infiltrated a Stealth Tech research station in order to destroy their work in the hope of saving lives of innocent people. Squishy is also a doctor and she cares a lot about other people’s lives. A lot of Squishy’s story is told in flashbacks some 20 years, back, some a year back. Unfortunately, this was sometimes a little hard to follow in the audio book when I can’t just flip a few pages back, but I enjoyed learning about Squishy’s back story in more detail.

Most of the characters from previous books return and I enjoyed their interaction. However, the book doesn’t advance the overall plot about the anacopa drive much, except for the ending. I also enjoyed a lot that the time displacement wasn’t dealt with easily, as it usually is in Star Trek type stories. Instead the people are stranded and some are rather desperate because of it. Some, such as Coop, are trying to focus on their work and a few couldn’t handle it at all.

Both Coop and Boss are leaders but they have worked together for a while and have a comfortable working relationship, but their personal relationship isn’t as comfortable. They are lovers, but they haven’t revealed that to their crews and Boss doesn’t even think of him much. They don’t interfere with each other’s crews. Coop’s people are military and they don’t sometimes like the way that the civilians work or can argue with their leader.

Most of the characters are single minded in their goals and they are often also paranoid loners. Boss is somewhat more comfortable with her leadership position than before but she still wants to do everything herself. Boss’s crew and the crew from the past work together but sometimes one side lacks information that it very obvious to the other and this causes conflict.

I liked the book a lot but it wasn’t as good as the City of Ruins. However, the ending promises really interesting things to come.

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