Monday, June 15, 2015

Review: Forgotten Suns

Book Cover: Forgotten Suns by Judith Tarr Forgotten Suns by Judith Tarr
Published April 2015 by Book View Cafe
Source: eGalley ARC from the publisher

I am no one. I pass from dark into dark. I hunt a track gone cold as stone.

For five thousand Earthyears, the planet called Nevermore has been empty. Its cities are deserted, with every trace of their inhabitants erased. Only a handful of nomadic tribes remain, none of whom remember the ones who went before.

An expedition from Earth has been excavating one of the planet’s many ruins, and attempting without success to find the cause of its people’s disappearance. Now the expedition is in trouble, its funding cut; unless it makes a major discovery, and soon, it will be shut down. Then the United Planets will invade Nevermore and strip it of its resources, and destroy its ancient and enigmatic treasures.

Aisha, the daughter of the chief archaeologists, tries to save the expedition by opening a sealed tomb or treasury—and manages instead to destroy it. But one treasure survives, which may be the key to the planet’s mystery. That treasure is alive, and deeply dangerous: a long-forgotten king and conqueror, sentenced to be preserved in stasis centuries before his world was abandoned.

Khalida is a Military Intelligence officer with a quarter-million deaths on her conscience. She has retreated to the near-solitude of Nevermore to try to come to terms with what she has done, but her past will not let her go. The war she thought she had ended still rages, and is about to destroy one planet and spread chaos through a hundred more. Her superiors force her back into service, and dispatch her to a world that may also offer a clue to the mystery of Nevermore.

With the alien king, the sentient starship he liberates from an unholy alliance of Military Intelligence and the Interstellar Institute for Psychic Research, and a crew of scientists, explorers, and renegades, Aisha and Khalida set off on a journey to the end of the universe and beyond. What they find will change not only the future of Nevermore, but that of all the United Planets.

My Thoughts

When I read “Aisha, the daughter of the chief archaeologists, tries to save the expedition” in the above book description, I was hooked. I knew that I just had to read this book.

I really liked Forgotten Suns and read through it as quickly as I could. One thing that made the book so outstanding for me was the attention paid to character development. With two point of view characters, both female, it could have devolved into a sameness, but instead the reader was given two well-differentiated characters.

First up, we meet Aisha, the almost thirteen year-old daughter of xenoarchaeologists exploring planet MEP 1403, otherwise known as Nevermore. Aisha was born on Nevermore and has only visited other planets for short periods. Although there are ruins indicating a highly advanced civilization, the planet is basically unpopulated except for a few nomadic tribes. And, after twenty years of exploration, the scientists still don't know what happened to the original occupants. Now, the research funding is at risk and developers are eager to gain control of the planet and open it for colonization. As if that weren't bad enough, Aisha must be examined by Psycorps immediately after her birthday. If she shows signs of psi talents, she'll be taken away by the Corps and she'd much rather study to be a xenoarchaeologist.

Next, we meet the second primary character, Khalida, aunt to Aisha and her brother Jamal. Khalida is an officer in Military Intelligence, come to Nevermore to continue her recovery from the trauma of putting down a rebellion on far-away Araceli. A mis-step resulted in the detonation of a nuclear device and the deaths of several million including all those on her team. Although Psycorp treated her and suppressed some of her memories, she refused further treatment and retreated to Nevermore.

The other main character around whom the action revolves is Rama, a man with either no past or a millenia-old past. Claiming to have been in stasis for thousands of years, he sets out to find what happened to the original inhabitants of Nevermore.

This was a thoroughly entertaining book. In addition to fully fleshed characters, the universe in which they live was magnificently developed. Judith Tarr has done a masterful job in weaving the stories of Rama, Aisha, Khalida, and others. Throughout, there was space travel, military forces, psi (or magic?), science, aliens, and more. I strongly recommend Forgotten Suns to all who love well-crafted science/space fiction.

Thanks to the publisher, Book View Cafe, and Library Thing Early Reviewers for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.


Disclosure: I received a free copy of Forgotten Suns from the publisher via LibraryThing Early Reviewers in return for an honest review.

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