The book isn't really about science fiction; in fact you will be disappointed if you're looking for Asimovish technology or Dune-like empires. The science part plays a fairly minor role, and is indeed neither detailed nor particularly convicing. It could, in fact, be safely replaced with some minor magic without affecting the story in the least. What Danvers does is to use his baby science/magic trick to create a situation rich with possibility, superimposing early 20th century anarchist ideas with present-day capitalism and 19th century slavery. It is this mix, with its contrasts and similarities, with its apparent superimposition of ideas, that is the real magic of the book.
The character of Peter Krotopkin, based on the real life Russian anarchist, is drawn with a great deal of finesse (though the accounts of his past life tends to the clumsy on occassion). His actions follow a certain headalong buildup that gives the novel its energetic pace, but I felt the climax was rather unsatisfying. Krotopkin's release from jail feels very contrived; Danvers meanders in introducing too many different elements in effecting a simple jailbreak. The end of the novel feels a bit like he threw a lot of different ideas at it, in the hope that some might stick.
The richness of the novel, however, is in the juxtaposition of an anarchist philosophy originally proposed against the communist system applied to today's capitalism, and in the open debates about individual freedom and slavery that Danvers outlines, and then leaves to the reader to answer. This, rather than the weak science in the novel, is what stays with you after you've put the book down.