The Dark Between the Stars – Kevin J. Anderson

About the Book

Twenty years after the elemental conflict that nearly tore apart the cosmos in The Saga of Seven Suns, a new threat emerges from the darkness. The human race must set aside its own inner conflicts to rebuild their alliance with the Ildiran Empire for the survival of the galaxy.

Galactic empires clash, elemental beings devastate whole planetary systems, and factions of humanity are pitted against each other. Heroes rise and enemies make their last stands in the climax of an epic tale seven years in the making.

672 pages (hardcover)
Published on June 3, 2014
Published by Tor
Author’s webpage

This book was sent for me to review by the publisher.

I loved The Saga of the Seven Suns, so when I heard that Anderson was releasing another series set in the same universe, I was all over that like flies on… well, never mind.

There are a few things that readers should keep in mind before embarking on this new series. First, it does help (immensely so) if you’ve read The Saga of the Seven Suns first. You can start on this book, but I think a lot of the cultures, history, and character’s stories will lose their impact if you don’t have that first series behind you. Secondly, as you can probably deduct from that previous point, you’ll run into a lot of the same characters (only later in their lives). Yes, there are plenty of new people to get to know, but you will run into a large chunk of the primary characters that stuck with you in that previous series.

If that’s something you’re anticipating, then read on, my darlings.

Automatically going into this series, Anderson is going to face an uphill battle. Fans of the Saga of the Seven Suns will want something just as amazing, just as epic, just as poignant, and no matter how hard they look, they won’t ever be quite as satisfied as they want to be. That’s a problem that any author faces when re-entering an already established world or universe. Societies and cultures have evolved and adapted since the huge conflict that Anderson previously focused on, and some readers will, undoubtedly, be disappointed with some of the characters and cultures, and how they’ve changed in the years that separate his first series with this one.

That being said, part of what I really enjoyed about The Dark Between the Stars was just how well Anderson portrayed the lives of so many characters, in the future that they fought so hard for. It’s realistic to see how some of them have grown, and the choices they’ve made. The new characters that are introduced fit perfectly into the cultural stew that he’s created. After such a huge war in Saga of the Seven Suns, everything is different, and people are still dealing with what happened, and Anderson really portrays that well.

Anderson didn’t shy away from any of the uncomfortable cultural details, either, and he does make them quite important to some aspects of the plot, which I truly appreciated. For example, the mixed race children in the Ildiran Empire are a point of contention, and it’s quite interesting to see just how pivotal they have been and they are developing to be, in the impending and developing drama. It’s those details that have always made Anderson come alive for me. He never overlooks the cultural contention, and it adds so much realism and compelling depth to his books.

It might take some readers a little while to really get into the book. The interest in the characters and their developments is almost instant, but much of the first third of the book is spent setting up families, characters, politics, and showing readers just what happened to some of their favorites, rather than developing the plot. However, once the plot does really get going, it goes fast and it is intense.

The plot, however, is probably a point where most tried-and-true Anderson fans will have a little bit of an issue, as it feels like, in many ways, it mirrors the basic setup of Saga of the Seven Suns. There’s another intergalactic, never before seen creature-thing, and people must figure out how to combat it. It feels very, well, similar to his previous series.

And it is, in truth. The bones of this book are very similar to Saga of the Seven Suns, however, where Anderson really changes things is just how important of a role the shifting cultures, the raw wounds from the previous battles, and the people who are tired, confused, and still sore from the previous intergalactic struggle. In fact, in this book, people and cultures play a much bigger role than I expected. Anderson does his characters and his cultures well, so the dynamic, personal aspect of The Dark Between the Stars was just as addicting as the plot, if not more so.

Is this going to rival The Saga of the Seven Suns? No, but I’m not sure it is meant to. While there are plenty of similarities between the two, this book felt a bit more intimate somehow, more focused on families, people, relationships, cultures, and change than the other. Everything that happens here seems to have a more emotional impact than I expected. It’s personal, and people are tired, and that makes the struggles and developing challenges that much more emotionally intense.

I’ve tried to figure out how I want to rate this book, and I think it sits somewhere comfortably between three and four stars. It has a sort of done-before feel to it, but it was an absolute joy to revisit this universe and see what has happened to all the characters that made such an impact on me years ago. The plot moves fast, but it’s the people that make this one worth reading. This is an incredibly solid start to a new series that leave me anxious for more.


3.5/5 stars

One Responses

  • Very very interesting. I received this one for review consideration and wasn’t sure if I needed to have read the previous series. It is good to know that I should probably start there instead, both because it has a stronger plot and because it is the beginning for many of the characters.

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