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on 24 February 2016
I'm not good at writing reviews but here goes: this is a great book. I read it age 65 and it was like reading SF as a teenager once again, totally wrapped up in a wonderfully different world. If you want old-school SF, here it is, wonderfully done.
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on 16 June 2017
This book is *so good*. Brilliant, page-turning space opera that you won't be able to put down (or at least I couldn't). Drop whatever you're doing and read it at once.
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on 14 September 2017
Interesting scope, very imaginative and original. Too poorly explained and described. Tough to read in large doses.
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on 4 August 2016
This is an excellent book; it sets out some clear rules for the scientific advancement in the galaxy that give a framework for The Singularity or Uplift or any other set of sci-fi staples without feeling forced.

The various plot threads give us a tour of the structure of the galactic society without ever feeling like an intellectual exercise in the way some sci-fi can. We also get a more detailed exploration of an alien culture in the primitive world setting that has some nice fresh touches.

The various characters are all well written and believable. The young girl, Johanna, is annoying but even that is consistent and the other characters are likeable or not the situation requires.

The only flaw is that the main conflict does hinge on a battle between two ancient and almost infinitely powerful forces so there cannot be a truly satisfying resolution but at least there is no soft ending, even the 'good' power is hardly kind-hearted and the ending when it comes doesn't play on sentimentality.

Many of the themes are similar to David Brin's uplift series but taken from a different starting point and to a very different conclusion.
Good sci-fi and good writing.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 23 December 2014
I tend to enjoy the harder science fiction titles of authors of the Arthur C. Clarke ilk but I have a soft spot for a vivid imagination in science fiction and they don’t come any more creative that Vernor Vinges. From the very opening he has you challenging the parameters of what you consider plausible and after a while of reading through these outlandish concepts of time, the universe and unusual forms of intelligence you seem to adopt a new ‘normal’ way of thinking.

This is a truly ripping yarn intelligently written which for me takes it into the realms of epic adventure. The characters are in the main well written and plausible although the feudal elements Tines part of the story might stray a little too far into the pantomime of good vs evil a little too obviously, it’s no less enjoyable for it.

One minor criticism is the relationship between the two adult human protagonists feels a little forced into romance but it makes for an interesting dynamic later on as the nature of the characters relationship changes on their journey.

I’m being a bit picky though, a great read, real page turner.
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on 23 March 2001
This book was full of fascinating ideas from start to finish. The author brings in new ideas about the different cultures and tech's in true sci-fi style (imho) by letting you realise just before the full (and interesting) explanation is given what the core content is going to be. The ideas contained are both small and global and are still very strong in my mind at least 5 books and a couple of months later.
I could not recommend this book highly enough. Go and read it.
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on 15 June 2016
Still only 1/4 way through it but maybe i expected more from it. It stretches the disbelief a tad too far for me.
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on 6 May 2017
The characters and story line work...engaged my interest and imagination. There are some simplistic narrative plots that I guess are inevitable to make the story work. It is worth a long weekend or holiday read
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on 13 April 2017
Enjoyable, but nothing special. Some sections interesting, while others felt drawn-out and lacked weight.
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on 6 June 2012
I'll give Vinge his due, he has some great ideas. However, he appears to have a habit of presenting a whole boat-load of interesting ideas in a novel and only really working with a number of them. Frustrating for the reader if the ones you find the most interesting unexplored. There was one aspect of the novel which really grated to the point that I almost put it down half read - the sci-fantasy plotline. I thought this was a cop-out to an extent, as the world created here didn't really require much imagination (although it's inhabitants surely did). Having said that, I found some of the ideas presented engrossing and managed to suffer the fantasy aspects to reach the conclusion of the book. It does manage to ramp up into a bit of a page turner and I'm glad I've read it, but I won't be sticking this one on the bookshelf to enjoy again at a later date.
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