|Submitted by Anonymous|
(Mar 27, 2000)
I can't lay any claim to having an effect in the publishers mind as this second book was already on the bookshelves of the world a long time before I wrote my review of the first.
This second book however does have a dramatis personae which made reading it easier. I did have occasion to use it a number of times.
It is not quite as necessary in this second book as it was for the first however.
The pain of reading the first pays off in making this follow up flow much better. The character viewpoints don't seem to change so often or so dramatically.
I would say that the first book is necessarily like it is because of the huge amount of scene setting that an 8 book, (5500 pages ?), story needs.
This second tome has the luxury of being able to focus on the plot. The main characters are already established, you know when to boo and when to cheer.
The story picks up in summer 2206, 3 years after part 1 concludes.
In the interim, a subtle war has been fought between the 7 T'ang warlords who have political control of the Earth, and the consortium of businessmen who want to wrest that control away.
This volume deals with the escalation of that 'phony' war into the beginings of a real conflict. In painting such a wide sweep of future history, Wingrove does not forget the details of the characters though.
Wingrove paints each of the 2 main constituencies with a fairly broad brush.
The T'ang incumbents are Han, Chinese, the business interests are mainly Hung Mao, meaning essentially caucasian.
The T'ang want stability and order.The Hung Mao want change.
The T'ang want to stay on Earth, The Hung Mao want to go to the stars.
The strength of his story is that these generalisations are not 100 per cent accurate, and never more so than when dealing with the characters that are most central to the plot.
For this is above all a story about people. People dealing with their human frailties in the best way they know how. Making all the mistakes we know they shouldn't make along the way. All this set against a backdrop of exquisitely detailed future history where once up to speed, (having read the first book), all falls into place and actions become as inevitable as they are necessary to drive the plot.
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