Book Review: The Dark Between The Stars by Kevin J. Anderson

The Dark Between The Stars
Title: The Dark Between The Stars (The Saga of Shadows #1)
Author: Kevin J. Anderson
Social Media: Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Source: Book supplied by Collins Booksellers – Bacchus Marsh
Rating: 3 out of 5

About The Author:
Kevin J. Anderson has written spin-off novels for Star Wars, StarCraft, Titan A.E., and The X-Files, and is the co-author of the Dune prequels. His original works include the Saga of Seven Suns series and the Nebula Award-nominated Assemblers of Infinity. He has also written several comic books including the Dark Horse Star Wars collection Tales of the Jedi written in collaboration with Tom Veitch, Predator titles (also for Dark Horse), and X-Files titles for Topps. Anderson also serves as a judge in the Writers of the Future contest. His wife is author Rebecca Moesta and they currently reside near Monument, Colorado.

About The Book:
The Human race has expanded out among the stars, establishing colonies on numerous planets while independent gypsy clans, the Roamers, operate giant floating skymines in the clouds. On the planet of Theroc, the capital of the human federation, humans live in a gigantic forest whose towering tress are interconnected into a single mind. The Ildrians, a grand and ancient race of aliens, former rulers of the Spiral Arm, are connected by their own mental network called thism, but are unprepared for human ambition.

As part of increasing collaboration between the Ildrian Empire and the human Confederation, a large ship goes off to explore what lies beyond the Spiral Arm. There it encounters a mysterious and ominous nebula, one so opaque that even starlight cannot penetrate it – one that, to the explorer’s horror, begins to grow and expand. Soon, the races of the Spiral Arm discover the are being terrorized by an evil so ancient that it has been forgotten… an entity so powerful that the existence of all living things is being threatened

General Observations:

~Slow Plot: While KJA takes a long time to get the plot-ball rolling (it’s not until a hundred pages in that the main threat of the saga emerges), however all the dominoes line up in the end. Judging from my research into the author and The Saga of the Seven Suns, this seems to be his style of writing, however while the plot was slow, the in-depth looks into all the different characters was interesting, but I can understand why someone people may find this difficult to read, as a plot-based reader and writer, this novel was difficult for me to get through (I kept thinking “Yes, this is interesting, but what is the point of this? How does it relate to the shadow things?”).

~Show, Don’t Tell: KJA did a lot of back-story and world-building in this book, and while I understand there’s probably a time-gap between The Saga of the Seven Suns and The Saga of Shadows and some history will need to be explained for first time readers (such as myself), I felt that a lot of the back-stories (while were interesting) did have tendency to bog the narrative down. The readers were given a lot of information that could have been shown in active terms, instead of passive re-telling.

~Loads and Loads of Characters: Every chapter is written from a different POV, that’s not to say that the author doesn’t return to some POV’s, however I found it difficult to keep track of the cast of characters. However, because of this, there were a few moments of anti-climatic resolution, such as when General Keah is in the midst of Battle with the Shana Rei, it then jumps forward to a POV where the battle was resolved (therefore under-cutting the narrative tension). Also a character contracts a terrible disease with plague conditions and no known cure, there’s been a lot of build up and tension over the health status of this character, however another character cuts in and says he know exactly how to cure to the person (it’s done so sharply and suddenly, I couldn’t help but find it amusing).

Overall, an interesting character-orientated series set in SPACE, with the author clearly planning for long-term plot-resolution. I would probably recommend reading The Saga of the Seven Suns first (the links are below) as all the world building and character back-story did overwhelmed at times.

The Saga of The Seven Suns:
00: Veiled Alliances (prequel)
01: Hidden Empire
02: A Forest of Stars
03: Horizon Storms
04: Scattered Suns
05: Of Fire and Night
06: Metal Swarm
07: The Ashes of Worlds

The Saga of Shadows
01: The Dark Between the Stars
1.5: Island in a Sea of Stars
02: Blood of the Cosmos

RMFAO Genre Challenge 2016

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