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3.7 out of 5 stars11
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 13 October 2013
After last year's rather disappointing installment to the Quiet War universe, this novel is something of a return to the excellent series of before.

We're back in the solar system once again, centuries after the Quiet War itself. The golden age that emerged after the Quiet War, and the rise of the "True" from the previous novel, are over, and civilisation is still recovering from the aftermath. The protagonist is on the run after his family's spaceship was hijacked, ending his life as he once new it. After returning to civilisation, he sets about finding those responsible.

From there, the plot is essentially a thriller-esque chase across the solar system. There's still the same sense of wonder and speculation on future society that we saw in the earlier Quiet War novels, although humanity's progress has stalled, and scientific progress has given way to mysticism and superstition, and the whole story takes a more pessimistic view than its predecessors. The characters are all believable and interesting, and I had a hard time putting it down. The plot does seem to overcomplicate itself a bit towards the end, but even so it's a strong finish to the series. There is also some interesting, and somewhat refreshing, speculation on the limits of what future progress might be. For instance, while this future does have posthumans, most of them end up becoming absorbed in ever more complex speculation on the meaning of existence, and most people are still ordinary people.

One minor quib I have is that there are still precious few details as to what happened after Gardens of the Sun. Apart from the occasional shout-out to the first two novels, this feels very much like a separate story in its own right. For instance, while there are a few visits to the territories of the Outers from the fist two novels, the Outers themselves seem to have vanished.

All in all, though, a solid addition to the Quiet War novels.
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on 21 June 2014
Anyone slightly disappointed with the confusing and misfiring In the Mouth of the Whale have no fear. This is a return to the brilliant post-cyberpunk space opera of the first two in the series. Adventure, philosophy, quantum physics, post humans, politics, factions, cool spaceships and AIs, melancholy - it's all here. Great stuff.
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on 26 August 2013
This is cerebral, imaginative and ambitious. Author Paul McAuley has built fantastic worlds, with impressive geology and eco systems. His focus is not just on exotic planets, but also beaten up old space stations and desolate wastelands. None of this would grip by itself, so it is also a bonus that at its heart, Evening's Empires has a mystery for its hero, Hari to solve. He must go on an intergalactic `walkabout' to unlock the secrets of his family's past, to better understand himself and his current predicament.

This is full of high drama and interesting locations and set pieces, yet I did feel a little detached from many of the characters. They walk in and out of the plot and introduce new problems or situations for Hari to escape from or solve, but they were not as fleshed out as they perhaps could have been. That said I really enjoyed the journey, following Hari's progress as he navigated his way through the minefield.

Clearly McAuley is a very skilled writer, and here he has constructed an interesting and original universe, so fans of this genre will not be left disappointed. This is not just a space opera, but also it's about families, companionship and the past's influence on the present. McAuley proves that you do not need epic space battles to make an exciting and gripping sci-fi story.
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on 13 September 2013
A great follow up to the Quiet wars - good narrative and some interesting characters - bring on some more !
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on 18 August 2014
A change of pace as we follow the path of a single character, but firmly set in the same universe and evoking the same sense of wonder as previous books in the series. Well worth a read.
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A solid enough story that will not only take the reader on a journey into space but also gives them a tale that has infinite possibilities around it. The characters are rounded, have great hooks for the reader and when added to a plotline that is split over six parts all round sets this up for future outings. I'll look forward to seeing what is yet to come and if this novel is even a hints at the sheer scope as well as arcs to be had, all round makes this a series that I'm getting itchy to read more from.
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on 29 December 2013
This novel is set in the far future and follows three previous novels The Quiet War, Gardens of the Sun, In the Mouth of the Whale, and a raft of short stories, so some background is needed.

The Quiet War in tbe 23rd century decided that that the anarchic 'Outers' would lead the early phase of the colonisation of the Solar System, instead of the warring, powerful Families of Old Earth. The legendary gene wizard Avernus developed 'vacuum gardens' that could transform rocks in space into not just useful resources but also objects of beauty.

The Outers later fell under the rule of the True, who pursued a fanatical devotion to 'human perfection', and bred lesser humans as slaves. The fall of the True began with their attempt to make contact with an alien entity, reputedly living in Cthuga, Fomalhaut's gas giant. At this time occurred the 'Bright Moment', which everyone alive experienced, of a vision of a man riding a bike. While this 'event' was real, no one can explain it.

This is then not a clean and tidy vision of the future. It feels more like the medieval past, but is certainly not steam punk. Eccentricity thrives. Another important feature are the glorious descriptions of space scapes, a chaotic mix of old and new, plain and bizarre. Every time the action slows, the wonder of the environment takes over.

In contrast to the big events in the earlier novels, this one revolves around one person, Hari (a famous name in SF). Hari is alone on an asteroid. His family's ship has been hijacked. His family could all be dead. All he has is a semi-intelligent space suit and a deep desire for revenge. In his search for revenge he learns is that all is not as it appears. This is a masterful novel which takes the reader along with Hari as he tries to right wrongs. In this universe though there is no simple division between good and evil.

The weakness of this series is that it that it breaks too many rules. There are no heroes. Good does not always win. Life is not always an upward curve. The links between the novels do not follow an obvious narrative chain. The only constant pleasure are the amazing space scapes, which never cease to delight and amaze.
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on 26 November 2013
Writers can be really stupid at times. I read the Quiet War a while ago and enjoyed it. I spotted this one (No3) and so logically though I'd go to No 2 first - can't find it. There seem to be some short stories etc but definitely no no 2.
For God's sake if you want your readers to follow a series at least make it marginally possible to find it!! I'll amend this review when I've read the book but maybe someone can point out which one is meant to be the second - of course if there really isn't a series - why label this one No 3???

Well I've read the book now and its good, really enjoyed it but as I got out of sequence I am now reading number 2 in the series. Come on Mr McAuley read your reviews and sort this out. Oh and how about actually putting a product description in the section entitled 'product description' or don't you actually want to sell any books????

Addition - for any readers as confused as me - I now know that this isn't 'Quiet War 3' as the kindle title suggests but actually number 4 in the series - I know because I've read them all and its a shame because they really are best read in the right order - sheesh.
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on 22 September 2013
I remember the first Paul McAuley book I read, Four Hundred Billion Stars. The gigantic concept as related through a Human protagonist blew me away. After that I found his writing disappointing. I just could not get engrossed. A couple I just binned (before Kindle). Despite promising starts every story I read seemed to fall flat.

Evenings Empires I loved and I really could not put it down. The tale is set in a crumbling solar system where millions of habitats from Mercury to the Kuiper Belt have been abandoned and those that are left trade and squabble. McAuley passes over advanced but ruined and pillaged technology like a peasant living in th ruined forum of Rome. His protagonist Hari has escaped from his hi-jacked family trade ship and now must find out why he is being hunted across the system.

Deceit and double deceit bring back reminiscences of Eric Ambler's spy fiction of the fifties and sixties. Even the most loyal of companions has a motive that might conflict with Hari's attempt to ransome those of his family who may (or may not be) left alive.
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on 12 January 2014
There are only small links to the past books so this is worth a read as a stand alone.. ..
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