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Customer Review

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Required reading if you've got this far in the series, but prepare to be disappointed, 6 Aug. 2010
This review is from: The Trade of Queens (Merchant Princes) (Hardcover)
This, the sixth and last installment in the series, suffers from the same problems as the fifth book, and suffers from them in spades. It's very disappointing that such a good series should deteriorate like this. The politicking is still there (although perhaps not as much as the previous volume) but the silliness, culminating in nuclear carpet-bombing, is just so ridiculously over the top as to offend my sensibilities, even allowing for the fact that it's fiction and for dramatic suspension of disbelief.

I almost gave this just one star but it's just about pulled up to two by the fact that it's pretty much required reading if you've already got this far - just be prepared to be disappointed, even if you weren't disappointed (and you should have been) by the previous installment.

The end is somewhat intriguing and sets up more potential sequels, which may be improved by having had the obnoxious feudalism killed off along with all its incomprehensible politicking. There's a few interesting directions in which it could go, depending on which of the loose ends Stross decides to follow up on, if at all - on his blog he says "I'm not ruling out writing more books in that universe ‚" but I'm taking a couple of years of time out first, and if and when go back to there, it'll be with a new story and mostly new characters". Good, it could do with a partial reboot.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 10 Aug 2010 05:02:34 BDT
Why is the ending "over the top", remember this is the country (albeit in an alternate universe version) that bombed civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and went to war with Iraq while lying about its intelligence. Also, try to remember this is an SF novel, over the top is welcome there. It is not meant to be a piece of nonfiction.

Posted on 23 May 2014 21:46:27 BDT
Last edited by the author on 23 May 2014 21:47:59 BDT
S. Massey says:
I think its is very unsporting of you to post such a spoiler. I was shocked and shaken by the ending. I was preparing to be let down by a last minute happy-ever-after as I got to the final chapters; then I was run through the wringer and left shaken at the unspeakable inhumanity of the genocide.

The best scifi should bend the rules for dramatic effect; what Stross does so well is to make it all seem so "every day" and "here and now". I really did wonder if he had talked to someone who had worked on strategic bombing doomsday plans who could have told him how such an attack would go down. After all whats the point in having a deterrent if the outline of how bad it would be to be on the receiving end is not approximately known enough to write such board description? No doubt he made it all up after some light research; after all he is a scifi writer and making it all up is his trade. The fact that he had me wondering about such things shows what an excellent author he is and just how well he practices his craft.

I greatly look forward to whatever he writes next; I also look forward to him running me through a wringer again in the not-so-distant, and highly entertaining, alternative, future.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 May 2014 23:58:46 BDT
The bits I spoilered are telegraphed well in advance, including on the front cover.

In reply to an earlier post on 28 May 2014 10:12:21 BDT
Last edited by the author on 28 May 2014 14:19:28 BDT
S. Massey says:
I interpret the front cover to not be much over artistic licence over the book marketing material which mentions nukes in Washington. I don't see the woman with the gun raised on the cover and consider a complaint to the publisher if that is not an exact description of an item in the book. You clearly write about your disappointment in the ending which was a surprised to me. I read reviews I don't judge the book by the cover. In this case you didn't spoil the book for me as I read your review after; but if there was a way to block your reviews on amazon then I would since you don't care about other peoples enjoyment or the value of letting people discover their own reaction to the ending.
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