As the planetoid Thanatos Minor explodes into atoms, a specially-fitted cruiser escapes the mass destruction and hurtles into space only a step ahead of hostile pursuit. On board Trumpet are a handful of bedraggled fugitives from an outlaw world, old enemies suddenly and violently thrown together in a desperate bid for survival.
Among this unlikely crew of allies are Morn Hyland, once a UMC cop, now a prisoner to the electrodes implanted in her brain; her son, Davies, “force-grown” to adulthood by the alien Amnion and struggling to understand his true identity; the amoral space buccaneer Nick Succorso, whose most daring act of piracy could be his last; and Angus Thermopyle, unstoppable cyborg struggling to wrest control of his own mind from his UMC programmers.
Locked in a lethal batter against one another for control of Trumpet, they also find themselves the target of Punisher, a police ship whose human captain, Min Donner, is torn between her duty and her sympathy for the outlaw crew she’s been ordered to capture. Yet as Min races to reach Trumpet in time, Warden Dios, the director of the UMC Police, receives a darker directive from the mysterious, semi-immortal Dragon, ruler of the UMC: Kill everyone aboard Trumpet except for the one person whose blood carries the mutagenic key to ultimate Amnion triumph—the ability to appear perfectly human.
In a final titanic showdown in space, amid uncharted comets, planets, and asteroid swarms, these forces will converge in a contest of skill and survival on which their future—and the future of the galaxy—depends.
The best book so far in this series and the best book by Donaldson that I’ve read. A very high stakes penultimate book. Donaldson plunges the reader right back into the plot without any recaps or explanations. Thankfully, I read The Gap Into Power: A Dark and Hungry God Arises just back in May and was able to dredge the details from my memory fairly quickly.
The CEO of the United Mining Company (The Dragon) doesn’t appear very often in this installment, but he lurks in the background. Finally, we begin to divine his intentions regarding the fearsome Amnion aliens. (Hint, it may be good for him, but maybe not for the rest of the human race).
I really hope that the final book will reveal a few more details about the threatening aliens--their culture, their relationships to one another, their motivations. They are just too intriguing! Of course I’ll also be reading to see what happens to all the various humans who are integral to the plot line. It will be interesting to see how the author wraps all of this drama up!
Book number 334 in my Science Fiction and Fantasy Reading Project.