The Dark Between the Stars is the first book in a new trilogy based on the epic science fiction Saga of Seven Suns series by Kevin J. Anderson. It does not require having read the previous series, but if you have read it, your enjoyment of this book will increase.
Twenty years after the hydrogues, the faeros, and the insectoid Klikiss with their evil black robots were defeated in the elemental war, peace has settled in on the new Confederation. King Peter and Queen Estarra rule from the worldforest planet of Theroc, and a new era of cooperation is building between the green priests of Theroc, the Ildiran Empire, and the human Confederation.
As part of this new era, the Ildirans have broken from tradition and sent out an expedition to explore beyond the Spiral Arm. There they encounter a “black nebula” which damages all their electronics and destroys all but one person on the ship. When he is discovered, he has been changed, but he is unsure why the Shana Rei—an ancient enemy of the Ildirans—decided to spare his life. The Shana Rei start attacking in apparently random places, destroying everyone and everything in their path, and they appear to have joined forces with the remaining Klikiss robots.
Anderson is an expert at having a large cast of characters and keeping the story flowing from one character to the next. He makes it easy in The Dark Between the Stars (and in the previous Saga of the Seven Suns) by naming each chapter after the main character it is about. He also cleverly bridges from one chapter to the next through referencing the next character at the end of each chapter. I can almost see the scene-wipes as the focus changes to the next character.
All of the characters are interesting, and each has his or her own motivations for what they do. Very rarely is there a purely evil character; rather, each one has specific motivations which may be perfectly logical to that character, but appear good or evil to other characters, similar to the way master animator Hayao Miyazaki creates his characters. Every character has a clear moral (or amoral, in a few cases) compass, and they are true to that throughout the story.
The only real drawback I can see is if you get confused easily in epic stories with many different characters. In this case, you may find it frustrating that the story is not moving as quickly for your favorite character. I did not find this to be true in my case, however, and I loved seeing the tapestry being woven before my eyes as the story unfolded. The story moves along at a comfortable pace, even when it speeds up a little during battle scenes and assassination attempts.
The Dark Between the Stars is the beginning of another epic science fiction story from Anderson. I enjoyed every page because Anderson simply nails it on the adventure, and I am really looking forward to the next book.
Release Date: June 3, 2014 (USA)
ISBNs: 076533299X (9780765332998)
Publisher: Tor Books
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (social drinking, mentions of smoking)
Language: 1 (some mild expletives)
Sexuality: 0 (description)
Violence: 2 (battle scenes and aftermaths, peril, death)