Eternity's Mind is the climactic final book in Kevin J. Anderson's Saga of Shadows Trilogy, which began with the Hugo nominee The Dark Between the Stars. The Saga of Shadows, as well as its predecessor series, the internationally best-selling Saga of Seven, are among the grandest epic space operas published in this century.
Two decades after the devastating Elemental War, which nearly destroyed the cosmos, the new Confederation restored peace and profitable commerce among the peoples and worlds of the Spiral Arm. The ambitious, innovative Roamers went back to their traditional business of harvesting the vital stardrive fuel ekti from the clouds of gas giant planets, and the telepathic green priests of Theroc provided instantaneous galaxy-wide communication via their connection to the powerful and sentient worldtrees. The alien Ildiran Empire rebuilt their grand Prism Palace under the light of their seven suns, and their Mage-Imperator declared a new age of expansion and discovery.
But peace was not to last. The malevolent Klikiss robots soon found an ally in the ancient and near-omnipotent Shana Rei, destructive creatures who are the personification of darkness and chaos, awakened after millennia of slumber to destroy all sentient life in the universe. The Confederation and the Ildiran Empire fought in every way possible, but the Spiral Arm itself seemed doomed.
All across the transportal network, space is tearing apart, and the links between the gateways are breaking down, the fabric of space unraveling. The worldtrees are dying, entire planets are englobed in impenetrable black barriers erected by the Shana Rei, and the murderous taint has infiltrated the Ildiran race as well as Mage-Imperator Jora'h himself.
Desperate for stardrive fuel to power the military and all space travel, the industrialist Lee Iswander has been extracting ekti - the blood of the cosmos - from mysterious giant nodules found floating in empty space, draining these "bloaters" dry by the thousands. But in doing so, is he weakening the only ally that all of civilization may have against the Shana Rei?
A breathtakingly large canvas with a huge cast of characters, Eternity's Mind is the grand finale of a story as complex as any science fiction epic you will ever read.
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Eternity's Mind is the final installment in Kevin J Andersen's Saga of Shadows series which itself is a sequel to the earlier seven volume Saga of Seven Suns. This installment, as with the earlier two, occurs about 20 years after the ending of the Suns. As the Klikiss / Shanaree alliance continues to wreck havoc, the Anthos are revealed as parasites to the Verdani. At the same time, the bloatter extraction goes into hyperdrive as all the clans jump on board. The rent in space at Fireheart station is revealed as a backdoor into the Shanaree hiding place. The Illdirans must re-establish their alliance with the Fireos. Eventually, the mystery of the bloatter origins is revealed and a combination of various forces saves the day.
The sci-fi elements are in line with prior installments except for the bloatters which represent some type of neural network, hence the title Eternity's Mind. Overall, while adequate, this trilogy conclusion was far from satisfying. Whereas in the Seven Suns saga where fundamentals of earth, air, fire, and water were imagined as individual intelligences occupying unique environmental niches, this time out the author stretched further to the Shanaree representing entropy with total destruction as their dominance. The problem here is that there was really no effective counterbalance force that was manifested. The bloatters just didn't do much. Also annoying was that in the 20 intervening years, no one had expressed much interest in even attempting to understand any of this stuff. High level political maneuvering has also suffered over the years. Whereas giants strode among the stars in Seven Suns, now the next generation mostly just skulks about in the Shadows.
At the same time, the Illdirans really need to upgrade their record keeping for future productive utilization and move away from their "Remembers" serving chiefly as "Mage" legacy builders and more like real professional historians. As for the humans, the bulk of their activities were either petty squabbles, running away from danger, or narcissistic posturing (Zoe does receive some well deserved cosmic justice). One can't help but be left with the notion that everything will go on as before until the next galaxy destroying entity emerges. And despite all the sycophantic tree worshiping, the Verdani are still pretty lame with memory loss and needing Wental water to even just save themselves.
The narration was the best part of the series with an excellent range of voices, especially given the large cast of main characters. Dialogue and battle scenes have solid pacing and tone. At the same, the alien renditions are alien, but without the more typical nasal or phlegmatic accents.
Even in the end I could feel little empathy toward the "bloaters". Engineering a name change would have helped; after all, look at the effect renaming "jungles" to "rain forests" had done. Sarcasm aside, I found the whole "Mind of the universe" concept more than a little over the top; this even after I had come to terms with the Shana Rei sentient and sapient entropy cloud.
Still, with the vast number of characters, Kevin did an excellent job of maintaining their mini-story arcs through the end and spending time to bring a sense of finality to each of the significant characters. Strangely, while accepting that Londa (Lee Iswander's wife) was a very minor character, I found myself wanting her future to have been finalized.
As I've come to expect, Mark Boyett's performance was excellent. I realized after reflecting on the vastness of the trilogy, often requiring repetitive reminders of each of the many characters, that this would have seemed much more tedious with many other narrators.
It was a good ending to a solid trilogy.
This series ceased being great several books ago. Not quite sure why I bothered. This final book was most tedious of them all.
This was a wonderful conclusion to the stories! Having read ALL of the Saga series and all of this trilogy, I am so very pleased at the wrap-up. Very pleased. Thank you Kevin. And thank you Mark.
Repetitive and pedantic - assumes the reader can't remember anything. Little nuance.
No. I enjoyed the Saga of Seven Sons, and was hoping Book 3 would make the rest of the Saga of Shadows seem better in hindsight. Lots of action, but didn't get there for me.
Have him read a different book.
Disappointment and frustration.
This series is becoming formulaic, and not in a good way.
I love all the characters and their story arcs. A surprising emotional resonance with some of the plot points. Minor pronunciation and consistency issues that have plagued the entire series.
Great story line and very good character development. Considering the number pf characters and the their involvement with events as they unfolded... this was an amazing work.
Learn, understand, then decide whether you accept or reject.
The saga was a very enjoyable one, but the ending, while satisfying, has very few surprises and follows the logical pattern seen in the Saga of the Seven Suns.
I'm the most boring person on the planet.
Kevin J. Anderson has never (NEVER) disappointed me. I have always been engaged in all of his works and am thankful for the universes he has created. I love the way his stories never quite go dark, maybe a little grey, and how you know you will always feel good in the end.
"I've listened to and/or read the others so..."
Super mystical SciFi extraordinaire. Just like the rest of the Seven Suns saga and other Saga of Shadows books.
It really began to grate by the end.
So did the endless repetition of stuff we already know.
I'm sure the book would be at least 30% shorter if we didn't revisit information so endlessly.
The performance was good though, so it gets four stars overall even though the story drove me nuts.
"A Definite Must"
As with the previous books in this series, I found this very hard to put down. The numerous threads woven into one big tapestry making this one impressive book. I really didn’t want it to come to an end.
This series is right up there amongst the best in my humble opinion and I look forward to the next offering from this very talented author.
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