Backing off the prior emphasis of big battles and baddie beasties, Asher takes a more direct, traditional approach to a novel- a plot. Similar in standard to Gridlink, where he first created his Ian Cormac series, Asher has decided once again to put his one-trick pony show off to the side while actually trying to wrap up the series once and for all. Granted, there must be blood and blasts somewhere in the novel for Asher-sake, but it's definitely toned down.
Whereas the last three books have seen a cavalcade of enemies, horrific animals and flora and a slow evolution of the Polity's relationship with Dragon, only now in Book Five does the Dragon/Polity relationship, the Jain/Dragon relationship and the Cormac/Earth Central relationship come into play. These three pillars of the plot foundation assure the long-term Asher reader (this being my eleventh to-date) a solid good read with many glimpses of truth in the relationships stated above.
My once hitch is my once held notion that the Jain technology was one with a ferocious appetite for submission and destruction; now in Book Five we see much of dead or hibernating Jain tech. All of this Jain is repeatedly described as coral-like structures, ad nauseum. Even the live Jain tech is always portrayed as silver tendrils. It would have been nice to see a change of vocabulary regarding these adjectives but Asher does ramp up the vocab throughout the novel, though not enough for having me reach for my dictionary.
Through all the wonderful things Jain tech can do, during the trials Cormac finds himself in with his new capabilities and at the all the points where the AIs bestow their wisdom and humor to the cast is where Asher finds his niche in Book Five here. From one toehold to the next, the reader to taken casually through the well-structured, well-plotted and well-defined novel which isn't too flashy or too blasé. Not quite a re-read but well worth it for any Asher fan following the series!