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3.8 out of 5 stars20
3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 12 December 1999
The presence of younger characters does not make this a "kid's book" anymore than the presence of food makes it a cookery book. You cannot hold onto any easy assumptions reading this. Greg's characters never fall back on flat cliches and his aliens are creatures of immense power, described with a breathtaking scope. No bug-eyed monsters, these!
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on 27 December 2015
This story was one of frustration, annoyance and perseverance. Frustration at the slow story line and excessive characterization. Annoyance at the integration of Peter Pan into the storyline, which got very tedious very quickly. Perseverance, this book took over six months to read, during which I read numerous other books.

Greg Bear fans will enjoy the scale of universe brought to life. However, unlike many of his other books the characterization are excessive.

Was it worth it? Yes, if you have a strong desire to read the conclusion of this story come what may.
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on 19 December 1999
If you like space-operas with macho technologies, politically not-so-correct attitudes, claustrophobic atmospheres, slower-than-light ships, evil alien bastards, hints at New Physics and a galaxy that looks like a desert with everyone who has his whits about him in hiding and armed to the teeth, get this book. As a bonus, you get to think about the morals of blowing away a few billions of potentially innocent aliens whose forebears might or might not have committed xenocide on your forebears.
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on 20 September 2014
This is up there in my top 10 sci fi books, along with Ender's Game, Rendevous with Rama, and Use of Weapons.
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on 27 August 2014
I first discovered Greg Bear when i read Eon and then Eternity. I frequently re-read these books, as they are breathtaking in their scope and imagination. This one will be re-read as well. Marrying the character interplay with interstellar warfare that has your mind lit up like fireworks, it's difficult to put the book down.
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on 8 July 2011
To me, this shows its age (first pub. 1992). A more psychologically modern version of the long-duration spaceship concept can be found in Baxter's Ark. There, the kids really do screw each other up. Narratively, there's a bit too much authorial exposition for my tastes. Why can't we discover things through the characters, and not be told constantly? Again, more modern SF authors have mastered this, more mature, style of storytelling. Mieville's Embassytown would be a good example; there you feel that the characters have no idea what's going on, so why should you?

On the positive, there's a mystery about the book that keeps me going (I'm about 200 light years in it seems, about half way). Who are the Benefactors? Are the Killers really guilty? The concept of the galactic consortium is fascinating, especially as Bear has kept it real, and not cheated by having hyperdrive or anything. There's a bit of quantum entanglement-type superluminal comms, but basically travellers have to wait and see, and travel to find things out. In this sense, the plot dynamics resemble maritime adventures of old rather than modern day urban adventures. So four stars for the actual book.

I think I'm being let down by the Kindle format. There's a smattering of OCR errors, but also it seems the major jump-cuts in the scenes that I'm experiencing aren't really there. It's as if the original pages' double paragraph spaces at the end of scenes (after 5000 words, say) have been lost, so that everything is banged up tight against the next bit. There's only a few major numbered sections, so I'm having to keep a look out for the changes in context, and put the breaths back in myself. Don' t they test these things? -1 star for that clumsiness.
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on 14 June 2006
This little-appreciated book is Greg Bear's best, in my opinion. Science Fiction it may be, but its themes are as adult and rigorous as any book in any genre. It is also very well written.

An air of melancholy and despair - as well as barely suppressed terror - carries right through from start to finish, as befits the situation set up in its predecessor, The Forge of God. Bear does not shirk the philosophical implications of the story he is telling. The humans and aliens caught up in the story are overwhelmed by the mysterious technology that surrounds them, and never fully understand what is happening.

The climactic battle is very exciting, and the ambiguous outcome a satisfying, well-rounded one.

The technological explanations make enough sense to be convincing, but Bear also makes economical use of little suggestions and implications to give texture to the weird, merciless galaxy in which the story takes place. The Braid aliens, too, are a superb invention. They seem completely ahuman, unlike most alien races in sci fi.
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on 12 February 2007
The reviewer before me has already done a very good job and I agree with him entirely. However, this book is so good and so unusual in its themes that it is worth reiterating many of them:

A truly enveloping pathos that, in conjunction with the setting and the storyline, gives the book an intense and profound emotional backdrop;

A great underlying sense of unease that remains pretty much throughout the story;

A very effective and intriguing use of science, and very imaginitive use of differing physical and environmental conditions in other places in the universe;

The author doesn't shy away from any of the 'issues' that the story leads him to and deals with all of them very effectively;

Lots of novel and original ideas (indeed, the story itself is entirely unique) such as, how to deal with the immensity of the distances you would need to travel in space to get anywhere (and the time required);

A genuinely satisfying conclusion to a story written over the course of two books.

If you enjoy being mentally stimulated and intrigued in ways that can only be achieved by the best sci-fi- writing, then you really should read this book - this book, IMO, exemplifies the work of an author who exemplifies the very reasons for which I read sci-fi. (Actually, I'm certain that non sci-fi readers would enjoy this book - there's even a way in which it made me think of Lord of the Flies!).
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on 19 December 2010
A truly amazing piece of science fiction, much better than the first in the series. The children on the ship must make a decision whether or not to destroy a 10 planet system, engineered in incredible ways and populated by a number of intelligent species. Did one of those species create the technology that destroyed earth? Or by destroying them, would the children be as bad as those they seek revenge upon? By far my favourite Greg Bear book.
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on 18 August 2011
I'll be frank here, the first hundred pages of 'Anvil of the Gods' are an interminable slog to read and I can see why many give up before getting through them. Another reviewer has described the book as 'teen angst in space' and that isn't far from the truth. The idea that a group of young adults would call themselves 'Lost boys' and 'Wendys' and elect a 'Pan' to lead them with a 'Christopher Robin' as their deputy is risible. Why no Tigger or Tinkerbell? A bunch of whiny Twenty somethings who still regard themselves (and act like) children hardly seem ideal candidates to judge and decide the fate of entire civilisations.

The book markedly improves once the humans encounter the planet killers for the first time and afterwards end up having to cooperate with a group of genuinely interesting (and infinitely more likeable) aliens, but the reader still has to put up with the protracted, monotonous social problems of the 'Wendys' and 'Lost boys, now with the added annoyance of a religious nutjob.

The final third is where Bear shines in his grand description of an awe inspiring, incomprehensible alien civilisation and the moral dilemnas (obvious from the very beginning of the book) involved in deciding how to deal with it. Sadly however the conclusion ends up bogged down in mountains of technobabble and a last minute moral get out clause which I found disappointing and somewhat cowardly on Bear's part.

'The Forge of God' was a magnificent book, but sadly as a sequel this is a huge let down that's at least a hundred pages too long. If I were to recommend it to anyone it would only be hardcore fans of Bear and people who enjoy somewhat peculiar and tedious teen soap operas in space.
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