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REVIEW: Saga of Seven Suns, Books I and II

REVIEW SUMMARY: A rather pedestrian space opera that nonetheless, has some cool ideas.

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: In the far future, Humanity unwittingly instigates a galaxy-wide conflict when they use a piece of alien technology to turn a gas giant planet into a star.

PROS: Some interesting ideas and sense of wonder.
CONS: Workman-like writing, cardboard characters, illogical happenings and plot contrivances.
BOTTOM LINE: As space opera, these books come up far short of The Night's Dawn Trilogy or the Revelation Space books. However, there is enough cool SF ideas to keep going.

Saga of the Seven Suns is author Kevin J. Anderson's foray into the space opera genre. Previously, he's written books in the Star Wars, X-Files and Dune universes. While he's done a good job in constructing the universe his characters reside in, those characters and the writing just don't live up to the world building. Its the 25th century, humanity has established a thriving interstellar civilization thanks to the fuel source ekti which allows for FTL travel. With the exception of one alien species, the Ildirans (who all share an empathic bond, thism with their leader the Mage-Imperator), only hints of one long-dead alien civilization have been found. These aliens, the Klikiss, left behind many advanced robots, although their memories have been erased, and bits and pieces of high technology. It is one such piece of tech, the Klikiss Torch, which allows for the conversion of a gas giant into an actual star. Humanity unravels the workings of the Torch and experiments on an out of the way gas giant. At the successful conclusion of this test, several globes are seen escaping the planet and disappearing into space. Humanity has unwittingly destroyed the home of unknown, advanced alien species, the Hydrogues. The Hydrogues aren't interested in negotiation, only the annihilation of human-kind. The struggle to defeat the Hydrogues will require the three splinter human factions (the Hanseatic League, the Roamers and the Therons) to overcome their differences and unite. The Ildirans have a plan of their own to appease the Hydrogues and the Theron's (who share a telepathic and FTL link with the sentient Worldforest) discover that the 'trees' they care for and plant throughout the galaxy have a hidden history with the Hydrogues.

The ideas presented above, as well as the universe created are all really interesting. The big problem with the book is the writing style. Pedestrian, mediocre, workman-like are all adjectives I could use, with some descent into being 'hackish'. The turns of phrases, the clunky sentences, the poor dialog all served to distract me from the story. There were several times I couldn't believe what I had just read, and not in a good way. Secondly, the characters themselves seem cookie-cutter-ish, as if Anderson has spent all his time on the world-building, and not on character building. Most characters were ho hum while some are obviously meant to be reviled. I didn't find any to be particularly interesting or appealing. Third, too many times, characters would 'intuit' what has happening for no apparent reason or, If the story needed something big to happen to rescue the characters, it did. I can handle a little Deus Ex Machina, but in this case, it became, Deus Ex-Haustion.

There is a lot here to work with. The sentient worldtrees, the hive-like (sorta) Ildirans, the Klikiss and their robots could have resulted in, in more capable hands, a riveting story. As it is, it took me two months to finish the books, which isn't a good sign. However, there is enough here for me to keep reading, as soon as John finds book 3 at Half-Price Books for me that is.....

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Comment on this post Comments (5) | PermaLink | Category: Book Review
Posted by JP Frantz at Monday May 31, 2004 at 7:43 PM
© 2004 SF Signal

Deus Ex-Haustion...that's funny.

Posted by John on Monday May 31, 2004 at 9:01 PM

Hi there,

I would agree on everything you said.  One point I would add is the large amount of point of views.  I think that for the first fifteen chapters, there are about 13 characters introduced.  This can become annoying when you realise that many point of view characters are build up during a few chapters, and their only purpose is to see a major event happen and be discarded at that point.  There is so much filler introduced to build these disposable characters that I managed to see a patern.  I quickly learned to skip those chapters, and focus on the part I enjoy. It's probably the first time I do this, and I really enjoyed the third book doing so.



Posted by Etienne on Friday January 08, 2010 at 1:05 PM

I wanted to give the series a chance and as a result bought every book. Big mistake.

Mr. Anderson has no conception of what military command structure is, and even less

of the ratings of military personnel.


A glaring example  of this is conjured up when he calls the flight crew of the EDF and Illdarian space craft "soldiers" when ship hands or just "CREW" would have sufficed.

Neither does this man have a good enough command of Si Fi  jargon to know when to call the the COs command area The Bridge.


This author took several formula ideas and crammed them in a food processor, ground them up to a thin paste  and then brushed them on virgin sheet of paper  hoping no one would notice.

The two dimensional characters spread boringly thru out the long series were of no consequence in final analysis .

Why I tortured my self with the entire series  is still a mystery to me, must have a bit of masochistic streak in me.

All I can say in closing is i could have done a better job with that alphabet soup Anderson titled Saga of the Seven Suns.


Posted by Black Bruin on Tuesday March 09, 2010 at 4:06 AM

I would just like to say that i have read many books over the years. Long, short, fiction, and non-fiction have all had equally interesting and disastrous books. STSS series is new and insightful. So many critics and "experts" try to tell us how books should be written and dialogued. Even down to the very cover. These books are like a fresh new idea that kept me reading. The problem becomes when your glass is too full to acquire anything else, so all you do is read with byas instead of imagination, which coincidentaly that's why they are called fiction. I support Kevin Anderson and his "unorthodox" sci-fi series. If thirteen to fifteen characters is too hard to remember over 7 books then maybe you should read something else, but in my opinion he does a great job of returning to each character throughout the greater scheme to grow you closer to them. ust because he doesn't have numbers and calculations and just because he doesn't know the official rankings of military, does not mean that the book is not good. It was a great read to all I've known with open imaginations.

Posted by Jmak on Saturday August 14, 2010 at 5:36 PM

I liked the overall idea behind the story and plot, but not the writing and characters. Book 1, 2 and maybe 3 was pretty exciting but after that, I sort of lost interest. After book 4 or 5 it was hard to keep reading and at book 6 or 7 I just wished he'd get it over with so I could start reading some other books. Kevin Anderson is in no way in the same league as say, Peter Hamilton. If he'd kept it at maybe 3 books it would have been better, I think.

Posted by Hans K. on Wednesday August 25, 2010 at 8:02 PM

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