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3.7 out of 5 stars33
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 28 September 2010
I enjoy "Space Opera" and hard SF. This book was the final part of three and well worth the read. A blizzard of thought provoking ideas. Laced through with a good plot and good ending.
Only a small moan, don't let it put you off. When the plot led to an impossible cul de sac the villain or hero would somehow gain a sometimes implausible new gift or relevant info. This never being covered in the proceeding pages.
Never the less a cracking read, which leaves one waiting more from the author.
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on 28 October 2011
Having enjoyed the first two books, this was a massive disappointment. So many threads left dangling, so much that was far too easy, so little explanation of what is going on.

Very little of the story makes sense. There's a weapon that can destroy FTL drives. Our heroes find it rather easily, even though the god-like Makers have been searching for it for millennia. And the weapon destroys 80% of the Emissaries' Fleet. Instantaneously. And rather wonderfully Trader provides Dakota with weapons and shields from a vanished civilisation that are much better than anything the Magi ships have and which mean she can invade Emissary space to launch the weapon. Oh, and the Emissaries can track Dakota through some technology that nobody thought to tell anybody about before. Planted by Hugh for reasons that are never given. And Trader has been on an expedition to the Greater Magellenic Cloud and found out how to work the weapon. But he didn't tell anybody. Deus ex machina indeed.

At the end, we still don't really understand the Makers or why they are leaving caches all over the place, we don't meet the Emissaries at all (except in battle) and so get no further with what they are about and there are hinted at links between the Makers and the Atn that never go anywhere. And the Magi? and the makers of the weapon? Who knows?

For good measure, there's some sort of nonsense about the weapon only working for the just or the not so bad or something that is never explained. And Lucas becomes really good at fighting and Dakota dies twice. But she's alive at the end again. Or something.

I don't really know what wrong here. Having set up great situation, Gibson seems to have completely run out of ideas as to how he's going to resolve it. Instead he pretty much rewrites the back story so as to provide solutions to all the problems he has created - oh, didn't I tell you that I have the control programme/brilliant weapons/tracking devices/location of Excalibur? He descends into sub-fantasy with his magic weapon that is only for the virtuous and chickens out of having his main characters die.

A real shame, as Nova War set up the conclusion so well. Two stars because if you have read the others, you have to read this one, otherwise on a stand-alone basis 0 or 1.
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on 6 September 2012
Having finally finished reading all three books I can happily say that it was well worth the read. Although I found the story line became patchy in places the overall storyline made it a difficult book to put down. The main thing I found annoying was the number of spelling mistakes through out all three books (not that my spelling is any better) but I guess when proof reading 600 page books a few are going to slip the net. Over all a very good read and I'll be looking out for more books written by Gary Gibson in the future
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 26 November 2011
I admit it took me a while to get to this third book in the trilogy - didn't really find myself compelled to leap to it and read it after having read the first two books. All in all, and I think I find myself reviewing the trilogy as a whole here, I found it all rather disappointing. Great premise, could have been a great story - but just never quite got there. I still find it reminiscent, but sadly nowhere near as good as, Simon Green's Deathstalker series. But in this series, I just never found myself giving a damn about the characters. I really couldn't care whether the `good' guys won or not. The potential of the storyline, and the grand epic sweep and feel which was set up relatively well in the first book just never lived up to its promise. Sadly underwhelming overall.
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VINE VOICEon 3 August 2010
A really pacey and gripping finale to the Shoal Sequence trilogy. I love space opera and in this series Gibson has really delivered in terms of a very believable universe, genuinely threatening technologies, great characterisation and a nice new re-tread of that hoary old trope of "ancient evil".

I was especially pleased with his near indestructible (or rather all to destructable but not permanently) Heroine Dakota Merrick and the seriously slimy Trader in faecal matter of animals. Characters like these are all to rare in space opera as they have a touch of whimsy to offset the usual portentous "end of the world" plot lines which are woven around them.

The plot lines are nicely woven into a satisfying conclusion, with the epilogue providing us hints that at least one of the characters will have a handsome run in another series. First class stuff.
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on 12 July 2010
The third book in the Gary Gibson's 'Shoal Sequence' trilogy (the other two being first 'Stealing Light' and then 'Nova War') provides a pretty good 'grand finale' while still just about leaving room for a new series.

Initially, the multiple narrative strands left hanging in the previous instalment are continued, but slowly these are completed and the main part of the book turns into a quest and, to some extent, a murder mystery. In fact, this section took so long, I was beginning to despair as the end of the book approached and no conclusion seemed in sight. But Gibson deftly stitched up most of the loose threads into a generally satisfying end.

Most of the characters who survived the previous book are here - besides the central figures of Dakota Merrick and Lucas Corso, we meet 'Trader' again and, all too briefly, the wonderfully horrible Hugh Moss. The murderous 'Emissaries' are here but happily not in person, along with the Atn, the Magi ships and the Maker. So, all in all, a thoroughly rumbustious Space Opera on a galaxy-wide grand scale (as the finest Space Operas should be); a hint of Götterdämmerung, the occasional near-apocalypse, generally fast-paced narrative, weird and wonderful aliens, twisting and turning (but consistent) plots and sub-plots, bizarrely advanced technology - all in all a cracking good read. Thank-you Mr Gibson. :-)
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VINE VOICEon 21 December 2010
I was a big fan os the first two books in the Shoal sequence, and I have to admit I found Empire of Light a bit of a let down. The first coupel of chapters can be summarised as follows:

Dakota - We need to find a big Deus ex machina to get us out of the nova war. I'll go and ask the Makers, who have been looking for it to destroy it for thousands of years. Oh, its called the Mos Hadroch.

Ty - I've heard of the Mos Hadroch and I know where it is. Lets go there.

And so a mystery that has defeated a galaxy spanning intelligence for milennia is solved in the time it takes to read a cup of tea.

That put a downer on the rest of the story for me, and although there are some very good action sequences and tense interstellar space opera scenes, it just never quite hangs together. The ending itself does not quite plumb the depths seen at the end of the Naked God, but it comes close in terms of mystical machines magically making things all better again. It is however redeemed by a much better epilogue.

In short, if you have read the rest of the Shoal books, you will want to read Empire of Light, but don't get your hopes up....
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Gary, for me, has always been an author who has taken new directions and provides the reader with the unexpected. Here, within the third part of the Nova War series, is a title that takes the reader not only into the unknown but does it with bags of talent. Beautifully written with a great story arc, colourful characters and a talent to tie threads together in a minimalist way that just screams of the sheer talent within alongside an overall sensational round up to help give the series a rounded feel. Finally back all that up with great pace, some memorable villains but perhaps most of all with a scope that is nearly as big within the pages as the universe itself and you know that you've had a really satisfactory read. Great stuff.
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on 28 April 2016
The last book of the Shoal series (if you don't count Marauder), however, I felt it had lost its way and the focus wasn't as tight as the previous two books. Maybe it's just me. Still a reasonable read to round of the series.
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on 3 November 2011
Gary Gibson was definitely on my must-buy list after Stealing Light and Nova War, but - having just finished Empire of Light - I'm sorry to say he drops the ball badly on the third outing.

The plot lacks tension as solutions to problems present themselves seeming without any effort on behalf of either of the main protagonists... super weapons just crop up out of nowhere as gifts (if the Shoal knew about them, then why the heck didn't they use them in their war against the Emissaries?) or just neatly resolve themselves. The vast majority of the action takes place aboard one ship and as a result feels claustrophobic and a little... well... boring. In fact, by the end you're desperate for the journey to end - if I had to sit through yet another section about drive-spine maintenance I felt like I was going to weep! I found myself wanting to skip through sections and found it difficult to maintain my interest as the main characters began to merge together into one big "tough guy" blur - what happened to the pacifist Lucas or the damaged and vulnerable Dakota?

The first two books were excellent, and Gibson is a talented writer - but frankly he need to let this one mature for far longer... At times it seems like he's bored and constrained by the universe he has created - like he was in a rush to dispose of the Shoal Sequence and get started his new book - and it showed.
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