Reviewed by Caleb Shadis
Humanity has spanned the cosmos – or at least spread across our arm of the Milky Way – with the help of the Ildirans, a humanoid race who gave humans the star drive. Humans caused an interstellar war with the Ildirans without even realizing the beings existed. The Dark Between the Stars begins twenty years after the end of that war.
The war was so destructive that everyone is just now starting to move on. Humans and Ildirans are working on becoming closer allies, executing war games, and preparing for the unexpected. And the unexpected comes – chaos incarnate, the Shana Rei, an ancient boogey man of the Ildirans – and the World Forest is returning. Living sentience causes the Shana Rei pain, and there is a new consciousness forming in this corner of the Spiral arm. This has brought the ancient enemy out of hiding and they have teamed up with Klikiss Robots, who have a hatred for all sentient creatures.
I was a little disappointed in The Dark between the Stars, the first novel in Kevin J. Anderson’s new trilogy. To enjoy The Dark between the Stars, one would have to first read the seven books in The Saga of the Sun series because the author often refers back to characters and events that frequently occurred in the earlier novels. Anderson gave a decent summation, but really the information was more of a reminder of times past slipped in, not thorough back-story for readers new to the author’s stories. To me, the reminders just kept pointing out how much I had missed by not starting the story at the beginning. Since this is a brand new series (granted, a sequel), I expected some reminders from The Saga of the Sun but mostly wanted Anderson to focus more on the new trilogy. Authors can’t ignore the past, but when so many back stories have similar histories and the characters have the same enemies constantly reading the same snippets of the story gets old.
The story spans the whole Spiral arm of the galaxy, and it has a pretty large cast. Some characters seemed to be there merely to be the jerks that push other characters into places they needed to be for the story. Too much of the story seemed to be too convenient for all the good guys concerned. The Dark between the Stars wasn’t a bad story, but there were too many things that irritated me in the writing for me to really enjoy it. I’ve read other books by this same author and enjoyed them so I’m not writing him off completely. I’m not sure I’ll continue this series, though, without at least first trying the Saga of the Sun novels.
Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Tor Books. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.