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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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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 28 September 2011
I have to say, I was a bit let down by this book after book 2, The Nova War, showed so much promise. This suffered a little bit from what I like to refer to as "The Peter Hamilton Effect". This is whereby when a character gets himself into a situation that there is no obvious way out, something "miraculous" happens. New technology is found. New abilities arise. New plot elements that were not there before suddenly appear and save the day. Frankly, that sucks. I won't go into details, but you'll know the part(s) when you come across them in the book. All in all, a good book, that should have been a great book, but for some sloppy plot points. Easy for me to criticize, but I'm sure that the author worked hard, because otherwise it is an excellent story and well worth a read.
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on 17 December 2012
This was one of my first Kindle books. I believe the first one was a free book. Book two was well worth the money. The story continues to widen and bring in new characters and some very interesting civilisations to say the least as well as expanding the story line. Its probably fair to say it is space Opera, with the writing not of the high standard expected by some. But then it is an excellent casual read of science fiction for the money.
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on 26 January 2016
The Shoal Sequence series started well but declined quickly. The final book in the trilogy immediately contradicts/retcons the ending of the second one in order to keep the story moving, helped along by changing things that had been established in previous books and introducing a brand new macguffin.

I wouldn't recommend it except to a completionist.
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on 20 August 2016
Having finished some serious, and long, space operas and couldn't find anything like them. Downloaded several samples but no, nothing grabbed me.
Until this series (Stealing light). Started well, if not up to the standard of Hamilton et al, but quickly built to being just as compelling. Excellent.
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