Pacifist aliens who hold Earth under quarantine want Chan Dalton to find out why their starships are disappearing. But the aliens are opposed to taking intelligent life, even in self-defense. When Dalton discovers hostile invaders, he must choose between fighting, losing the stars forever, or letting the enemy destroy Earth.
I've listened to everything Charles Sheffield has written as far as I know, and this left me feeling like it just wandered around, not doing anything, waiting for action that doesn't come due all of the "Restrictions" imposed by other "Advanced Races" that just don't make sense after reading the First Book in this Series...
To me it felt like Sheffield was just trying to get something out for sale without the usual thought put into it. The physics are highly discussed, but simple things like "Radio Communication Underwater between two people is impossible while wearing space suits". Radio propagation is suddenly "Line of Sight Only" (When it's convenient for the plot line). An ocean of "Heavy Water" doesn't allow sound to travel (Sound waves underwater actually travel FASTER than they do in air, yet in this book sound doesn't travel in the water at all, even though it's more dense than Earth's Ocean water). There are just a LOT of flaws that Sheffield usually doesn't make in his books.
All of the Characters are either Shivering Drug Addicts, or Recovering Addicts, OR their "Skills" are gone into with WAY too much detail, and then they aren't used AT ALL in the book.. in fact those characters just seem to be in the way. The characters just all felt "Flat" to me, and many are simply dropped from the story line with nothing more than an occasional mention of them from time to time. We follow a "Weapons Master" who contributes NOTHING to the story line, other than to give two more characters (A Magician and her Male Friend that can talk to animals, even though they never once use those skills) a sharp device so they can make an escape, and even THOSE characters are never used for anything at all, since ABSOLUTELY NO "Violence" can be used by humans. Hate to say this, and don't think I ever have before, but I'm glad there's no book 3.
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