I picked this up on the basis the blurb on the back said it was 'space opera' and I quite fancied something to get my teeth into. I was hoping for Peter Hamilton but I feel a bit like I got Kevin J Anderson instead.
* Plot: Although the premise is good, I feel the author reveals too much too early. The reader knows all the factions and (seemingly) their agendas quite quickly. I think one of the things I enjoy about epic stories is that the reader cannot tell where it's going to end up, or necessarily even the direction it's going. A lot of hints have been dropped and I rarely felt gripped enough to continue reading (so it lasted longer than a similarly sized small novel).
* Characters: Each chapter follows a different character, about half of whom know each other. However, I don't feel I've really got to know them in the course of this first book, perhaps because the chapters are so short there is not much time for each of them to develop.
* Composition: The author is painting on rather a large canvas. The world of Darien sits centre stage and some effort has gone into developing its background as a frontier world, but more could be done - I don't feel it compares well to contemporary authors' takes on a similar theme (e.g. Alan Steele's Coyote or Peter Hamilton's Lalonde). Its forest moon of Nyvesta is more interesting, but some of its mystery is taken away too early (as above). Meanwhile the political machinations of the wider alien societies - revealed by one of the characters careering across the galaxy to get to Darien - reminded me of the TV show "Babylon 5", which certainly brings in some needed colour.
Overall I think the author is trying to develop a rich tapestry, but the pacing is spoiling the tension. Admittedly that's subjective and some readers might enjoy events progressing quickly, but I don't associate this with 'space opera' which should be more of a slow burn. I'll probably buy the next book, but I'll definitely be keeping my guard up to avoid getting roped in to buying another "Saga of Seven Suns", which is what this most closely reminded me of.