It has been centuries since Earth was rendered a barren, volatile wasteland. With their homeworld left uninhabitable, humanity founded a system of colonies throughout their local solar system. Known as the Kepler Circuit, these settlements are strung together by a network of nonaligned Solar-Ark transports, locked in continuous motion. They have served to provide an influx of resources to every faction ruling over the remnants of humankind, most importantly the newly discovered element Gravitum which is found only in the Earth’s unstable mantle.
By 500 K.C. a religious sect known as the New Earth Tribunal has risen to preside over most of The Circuit. Though there is barely a faction left remaining to challenge them, a string of attacks on their transports force them to summon the enigmatic, yet brilliant, Cassius Vale for help. What they don’t know is that together with his intelligent android creation, ADIM, he is the one orchestrating the raids.
His actions lead to the involvement of Sage Volus, a beautiful Tribunal Executor sent by her masters to spy on their mortal enemies – the Ceresian Pact. In order to find out who is behind the attacks, she infiltrates the ranks of a roguish mercenary named Talon Rayne. Against all her intentions, however, she finds her faith tested by him and his ragtag squad.
While Sage and Talon are engaged in a futile hunt, Cassius Vale initiates his strategy to bring down the narrow-minded Tribune once and for all. But will anyone be able to survive what he has in store for the Circuit?
This is a quite interesting debutant work. It describes a rather dystopian future where humanity managed to destroy its planet of birth. Not that this is a new idea in sci-fi literature of course. The book follows a number of interesting characters including the android ADIM mentioned in the book blurb. The latter is kind of scary in its power combined with its naivety and devotion to its “creator”. How long until it decides the creator is no longer necessary?
The book is quite well written, at least for a debutant work. The characters are intriguing and the plot is quite good at making you want to know what happens next. It is difficult to find a real hero to like though in the sense that it is difficult to tell who is a good guy or not. Cassius Vale is of course the central figure but it he really the good guy? Sage Volus actually seems to be the most likable of the characters.
I do however find the book lacking a bit in its world building. Not that the world it builds is uninteresting. Far from it. The world of this dystopian future is quite intriguing. However the author provides little background and little information about the world. The reader is just thrown into this world without much ado and although a few pieces of information is thrown around you never really get much explanations. I would really have liked to know more of the history that brought us to this future. How was earth devastated? What is Gravitum really and what is it really used for? All we get to know is that the element is vital, it is poisonous and you can apparently make bombs from it. As a more tech-focused sci-fi reader I would liked to have some more time spent on this.
The book is very much about the characters, the intrigue and the political machinations some of which borders on religious fanaticism. There are no grand fleets of spaceships slugging it out although there are a few occurrences of “New Earth Cruisers” towards the end. Since I am more geared towards the latter in my sci-fi reading it of course makes this book miss the “my cup of tea” mark a wee bit but it makes up for it with some good writing, interesting characters and a plot that makes you want to read more to know what is going to happen next.
On the whole an interesting book and a very good debutant work. I think I might just pick up the next book if one comes out.