Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Dragon Never Sleeps

The Dragon Never Sleeps - Glen Cook

Canon space has been ruled for thousands of years, overseen by immortal Guardships, ready to dispense justice and restore order with extreme prejudice. But the years have taken their toll, and for the crews, constantly undergoing a rebirth cycle to rival any karmic wheel, and the nascent AIs, things are not what they once were. Whole ships have gone silent, prowling about the uncharted rim, seeking the mysteries of the web, and worse, some have gone insane. Some are no more than ghost crewed flying dutchmen, while others have turned into dictatorial fiefdoms, and even the other ships fear their presence. Canon space has changed as well, what was once a human empire is a decaying husk, aliens, clones, and artificial constructs battle with rebel agitators and trade families to carve out their own pound of flesh.

Only one race challenged the Guardships for supremacy, and they have entered into the realm of myths and legends. The Ku recreated themselves into perfect soldiers and tacticians, adapting their race for one thing, the war, and even they were wiped out, except for one. After a hundred generations of rebellions rising and falling, the Ku's last and greatest general has resurfaced, and the time for vengeance has arrived.

But there are other things out there, things more horrible and strange than even the insane AIs of the Guardships. Aliens from beyond the Rim, and they look with hungry eyes on the bloated jewel of order known as Canon Space.

Let me first say, I am a fan of Glen Cook, from his Black Company to Garrett PI books, I've devoured them. And this one is no different, I would compare it to his Dread Empire books, with intricate plots and powerful, sometimes mysterious and unexplained forces pushing schemes within schemes. That said, I've only given the bare outlines of the plot above, but believe me, I couldn't explain it all without reams of pages, not to mention spoilers galore, best is to simply read the book.

As for the book itself, some of the description is a bit sparse, but Cook is able to do quite a bit with a few words, creating the atmosphere of a scene so palpable that you can feel the bulkheads. This is Space Opera at it's best, while still being somewhat believable. There aren't any immortal heroes(resurrected, yes, immortal, no) that right the wrongs of the universe, like the Black Company books, the Guardships have definitely drifted into the gray area of morality. With believable, if somewhat insane, characters, and a twisting plot, this is one of the few books that I can say that I didn't have a clue what would happen even as I turned the page. When I was finished there was that "oh wow" feeling that one gets after reading mindblowing literature, but also a hunger, that there could have been more, especially in the last few pages. But still, this one gets my full recommendation.

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