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3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
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on 5 April 2014
just wish there was a sequel to find out what happened next to the characters in this book and where the universe expanded to next
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on 29 June 2006
I own three copies of this in case it goes out of print again and I lose it; it's that good. This book has everything. It's an SF classic, a feminist classic with the most ass-kicking heroine ever (Paula, who's short, black, in her late twenties and actually uses her brain to kick ass with!), a really plausible and interesting set-up (the Earth is a self-governed anarchy, Mars is a super-capitalist society where everything is fake and the Moon is a fascist dictatorship), and if none of that appeals, it's also a brilliant pan-galactic political space adventure spanning twenty-odd years and several planets, with plenty of battle action, seven-foot-tall mutants from Saturn who want to take over everything and a super-mutant who may or may not be a god. What makes it such a stand-out, though, is the quality of the writing; marvellously direct, tight, intelligent prose that's so vividly realistic you feel like you've actually lived through this when you've finished the book. No waffly expositions, no ropey dialogue, stuck-on soppy romance or flowery descriptions; this is the story of a believably real person with real struggles, and it's all gripping action from start to finish, with a thoughtfulness to it that stays with you for years. I can't recommend it enough.
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on 18 August 2004
I recently came across this in a second hand bookshop and nearly didn't buy it due to the slightly dodgy cover with a semi-naked woman on the front. However upon further investigation the book seemed to have more substance so I bought it, and I'm glad I did. I finished the whole thing in two days as I couldn't put it down. I prefer more unusual forms of science fiction that don't follow the pro-forma plots that many books seem to. This book might well have a few elements common to many others in the genre but has much else besides. I wasn't too sure what to make of the main character at first but then I grew to like her, and the author doesn't pander to the happy ever after brigade either so that the plot goes in some strange places and the ending is unexpected...
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on 23 May 2001
This is one of the best sci-fi novels I have ever read, and it's a travesty that it is not better known. The book captivates the reader right from the start and never loosens its grip, not even when the final page is turned. The characters and images from this book have stayed with me. I would strongly recommend anyone interested in sci-fi, or just good fiction in general, to read this novel...
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on 26 July 2004
It takes an outsider to make you truly see what you take for granted. To the best of my knowledge, this is the author's only foray into science fiction. By trade an historian, her work carries with it the feel, the texture and authenticity of future history.

An outstanding and memorable female lead; turns and twists of fate and fortune; deep insight into character and relationships. The science is rubbish, but so what? With fiction like this, who needs the science?
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on 23 February 2001
This book moves along at a great pace and takes you with it - it is hard to put down once started. There are no clues as to what will happen next, and the content is always interesting. The characters develop as the book proceeds and you become caught up in the world of the Styths, and in Tanouojin in particular. I first read the book in the 70's and find it just as good a read now as then, and am very glad it is back in print again.
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on 13 August 2009
All the reviews so far have said how good this book is - and it is.

They have all said it is shamefully overlooked outside the small SF world - and it is.

But Cecelia Holland herself is also shamefully overlooked. She is a superb historical novelist - and almost all of her strengths in reinventing the past are equal strengths in inventing a future in which recognisable people still move.

This isn't a flawless book - but it never ceases to captivate. Some of its origins - I believe it was intended to be a historical novel about the Mongols (a sequel to Until the Sun Falls, which may be the best historical novel ever written), but she ran out of steam and moved it sideways into SF - some of these origins still show through, and you can quibble whether the Styth are a likely development, modelled as they are on the society of the Mongols. But every character rings absolutely true, and they in turn lend credibility to the plot and to the depiction of the far future.

Highly recommended - as are almost all Holland's earlier historical novels - Until the Sun Falls and Great Maria in particular.
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