Kevin J. Anderson, the award-winning, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Dune: The Battle of Corrin and author of Star Wars: Darksaber, continues his thrilling epic series of galactic civilizations engulfed by interstellar war...
Caught in the middle of a titanic struggle between two alien superpowers, the factions of humanity and their allies, the Ildirans, are under siege. Can they resolve their differences to fight a common threat? For the leader of the Roamers, survival means extending a helping hand to others, while the chairman of the Terran Hansa plans to use a new, untested alien weapon regardless of the consequences. And for the new Ildiran Mage-Imperator, survival involves throwing off the choking traditions of the Empire-even if it might trigger a civil war. As old intrigues and dark secrets come to light, a man who is believed to be long dead returns with an ally who may save mankind. But this new fragile hope will be threatened by a fresh betrayal-the most bitter and brutal of them all...
The interstellar conflict between hydrogues (aliens that live at the core of gas-giant planets) and faeros (fire entities that dwell within stars) and its impact on a dazzling array of alien and human species propel bestseller Anderson's third thrilling installment in his Seven Suns saga (after 2003's Hidden Empire and 2002's A Forest of Stars). In the third wave of this SF tsunami, an important Earth Defense Force asset, ekti star fuel, is compromised when rebels refuse to donate all ekti to the defense effort, leading Terran Hanseatic League Chairman Basil Wenceslas (the power behind semi-puppet monarchs King Peter and Queen Estarra) to declare war on the rebels. Adding to the fireworks are human-hating Klikiss robots who break an old Ildiran peace pact, a brewing Ildiran civil war and Ildiran secret experiments that impinge on Mage-Imperator Jora'h's relationship with green priest Nira Khali. Crackling with energy and buzzing with action, this hot summer read bodes well for future nail-biting episodes.
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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August 17, 2007
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Excerpt from Horizon Storms by Kevin J. Anderson
Though blackened by flames, the surviving worldtrees on Theroc remained defiant in the aftermath of the nightmare that had befallen them. Skeletal branches twisted upward, frozen in agony, as if warding off an unexpected blow from the skies. Damaged bark had sloughed away like leprous scabs. Many of the trees had been mortally wounded. The forest itself was a morass of dead branches and half-fallen trees.
Celli, the youngest child of Mother Alexa and Father Idriss, could not look at the painful ruins without blinking back tears that came too readily to her large brown eyes. At eighteen, she was skinny, tomboyish, with a dusting of light freckles on her mocha skin. She had a shag of short, corkscrewy auburn hair that she cut only when it got in her way. Soot and ash scuffed her cropped, fitted top that left her midriff bare and her short flutter skirt that added a splash of color. Normally she had a bright smile beneath her upturned nose, but of late there had been few occasions to smile.
After the hydrogues had been driven back, it had taken all the remaining energy of the worldforest, a herculean effort from the Therons, and the assistance of a delayed rescue fleet from the Earth Defense Forces to bring the wildfires mostly under control.
Even so, whole continents lay wasted. Some patches still burned, and smoke rose into the blue sky like stains drawn by bloody fingers. Green priests and Theron laborers regularly gathered at central meeting places to face the endless task of recovery.
Each day, Celli joined them. With every breath as she ran along, the sour stench of burned pulpy foliage caught in her throat, and she knew that she would find the smell of roasting meat and burning wood nauseating for the rest of her life.
When she had first arrived at what remained of the fungus-reef city, an enormous shelf mushroom that had coalesced over the centuries, she gazed up at it with a fresh sense of shock. The host tree had been badly burned and the fungus reef half-destroyed, the carved-out pocket rooms unsuitable for habitation.
In a trampled clearing beneath the damaged fungus reef, her parents--though overwhelmed by the enormity of the task--did their best to organize the weary, red-eyed workers. Idriss and Alexa had officially retired from their leadership role and made Celli's oldest brother, Reynald, their king. But he had been killed in the hydrogue attack. She remembered her last vision of him, standing defiantly atop the worldforest canopy as the hydrogues and faeros battled overhead. . . .
Today, though, as on every other day since the hydrogue attack, no one would stop to mourn or dwell on thoughts of all those who had died. To pause right now in their labors, even out of pure grief, would have been too self-indulgent. There were countless trees and people that could yet be saved, if only there were hands enough to do the necessary work. That was why all Therons who were not too severely injured returned without complaint to the tasks that must be done. Celli, like every other Theron, grieved while on the move.
Her brother was lost along with so many others, including three of Celli's close friends. Including her other brother, Beneto, a green priest killed when the hydrogues attacked Corvus Landing. Every day, moment by moment, Celli worked to the point of exhaustion, trying to avoid the worst of the pain. She didn't dare think too long about Lica, Kari, Ren, for fear that the grief might immobilize her.
Before the hydrogue attack, Celli and her friends had spent their days amusing themselves in the forest, never thinking much beyond the next day or two. She would practice treedancing moves, and Ren was particularly good at catching condorflies. Lica and Kari both liked the same boy, but he hadn't noticed either one of them. How they had all laughed and played together, never expecting anything to change . . .
None of them had ever guessed that enemies might lie beyond the sky.
Celli, the baby of the family, was now the only one of her siblings left on Theroc, since her sisters Sarein and Estarra both lived in the Whisper Palace on Earth. In the past, her sisters had often accused her of complaining too much; now the worries and discomforts of her youth seemed petty and meaningless. For the first time in her life, Celli felt both a spark of independence and the weight of real responsibility. And she was determined to help her people get through this tragedy. The problem seemed impossibly large, but she lifted her chin and gritted her teeth.
Like Celli, the Theron survivors possessed a new determination that formed a tough veneer over their despair.