It’s a big Spiral Arm, and the scarred man, Donavan buigh, has gone missing in it, upsetting the harper Mearana's plans for a reconciliation between her parents. Bridget ban, a Hound of the League, doubts that reconciliation is possible or desirable; but nonetheless has dispatched agents to investigate the disappearance.
The powerful Ravn Olafsdottr, a Shadow of the Names, slips into Clanthompson Hall to tell mother and daughter of the fate of Donovan buigh. In the Long Game between the Confederation of Central Worlds and the United League of the Periphery, Hound and Shadow are mortal enemies; yet a truce descends between them so that the Shadow may tell her tale. There is a struggle in the Lion’s Mouth, the bureau that oversees the Shadows - a clandestine civil war of sabotage and assassination between those who would overthrow Those of Name and the loyalists who support them. And Donovan, one-time Confederal agent, has been recalled to take a key part, willingly or no.
Flynn's latest (3rd) installment in his spiral arm series returns to the style of his first with a story within a story theme. Ravn, a shadow (which is the Confederation's equivalent of a League hound like Bridget ban) regales a tale of her abduction of Donovan, the scarred man with multiple personality. With the telling, we learn somewhat of the history and politics of the League's natural adversary as well as the internecine struggles that are ongoing over there on the other side of the rift. At the same time, more background on Donovan is supplied that puts some informative, meaty slabs on his withered, bony frame.
There's little "new" sci-fi elements relative to earlier spiral arm tales, although there is a hint of more technology that has leached from old Terra, but is closely guarded by players unseen. Donovan is largely regarded as a pawn for the various power players in the Confederation to use. The tale finishes with Ravn and Donovan's daughter going off to rescue her father which is the basis for listing this as an appetizer.
The narration is excellent, particularly with regards to Donovan's multiple personalities; however, it should be noted that the narrator is different from the previous installment where this element was so prominent. It will take a bit of concentration to re-associate the various voices correctly. At the same time, Flynn is quite spartan in his rendition of past exploits from earlier installments and requisite background on the physics of this universe which place a premium on having listened to earlier offerings.
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