But while Rast’s contacts may be free of political constraints, what they lack in red tape they more than make up for in ruthlessness. As some of their hidden strategies are revealed, others become even more opaque. Why have the philosophers of Scolar been targetted? How far does the Extropist influence extend into Orion space?
From Lasper Farr, the Stain War veteran and ruler of the junk planet Edo, to the Sole initiates at Belle Monde to Rast herself, everyone is pursuing their own agenda. But are they really separate goals?
Or are events rushing to a single, terrifying conclusion . . . ?
Mirror Space is a book I’ve been eagerly awaiting this year. So far the Sentients of Orion series has gone from strength to strength with the slow build up in Dark Space (review) to the full space opera of Chaos Space (review). What I was really hoping for in Mirror Space was a story that not only continued the events from Chaos Space, but also added more to the mix and started answering the questions that had been building up throughout the previous two novels. What I got was exactly that, but delivered in such a way that fulfilled and exceeded all my expectations while adding some interesting things to the mix.
Once again Marianne splits the book up into sections that follow various characters, each in different situations after the dramatic ending of Chaos Space. Mira has been taken by the alien Extropists and effectively held prisoner on one of their planets; Rast and Jo-Jo are on Insignia, although they are split up from the biozoon during the story; Tekton and Thales find themselves, rather coincidentally, on the junk planet of Edo that is ruled by Lasper Farr; Trin, Djes and the survivors on Araldis are moving from island to island hoping to find a safe haven. Suffice to say that these individual stories are now coming slowly together for the grand finale in Transformation Space, something that is clearly evident by the way Mirror Space finishes.
One thing I will say about this series is that it’s been one build up after another. Marianne has cleverly laid clues in Dark Space and Chaos Space as to the direction of the story and it’s now paying off extremely well. The central focus is once again on Mira, this time with her unborn baby which is something that the Extropists are very interested in studying due to the ability that allows her to fly a biozoon. Although Mira’s storyline is the main one throughout the series it was the one I found least enjoyable this time around. It’s not that it’s bad, just that the other plot lines are such good reading. Tekton and his quest for the quixite throw up some interesting scenarios, while Thales truly seems like a lost puppy thrown into a situation he has no idea how to handle. While the sections following Rast and Jo-Jo are interesting, it’s the discoveries made by them and Insignia that ultimately throw more light onto the situation surrounding the invasion of Araldis. I found myself enjoying the story of the Araldis survivors again this time around, with their travels enjoying mixed fortunes and Trin starting to be accepted by some as their leader.
Not only do we continue to follow interesting and gripping story lines, Marianne shows us how she can create vivid and memorable locations. The Extro planet we visit with Mira is amazing and completely alien while Edo, the junk planet, is great and completely believable. While Marianne has created a realistic setting she has not done so through excessive world building or explanations. The story flows along very nicely and the pace doesn’t falter at all, even during the slower sections where we’re not quite sure what’s going to happen, although the final few scenes are particularly memorable and left me wanting more.
I only really have one gripe with Mirror Space, although this is something I suspect will come to the fore mainly in the last book. Sole, the god entity, is almost completely off the page during the story. While a lot of what goes on indirectly relates to it, we don’t have any progression as such for that storyline. It’s not a huge problem at all, but one that is noticeable.
Despite the one issue I had, I really can’t say how pleased I am with Mirror Space. Not only has it improved once again on its predecessor, it offers a more refined and thoroughly enjoyable space opera experience. While the series may ultimately hang on the finale in Transformation Space and the answers it will reveal, Mirror Space has once again shown that the Sentients of Orion series is one that deserves your attention and that Marianne is a writer worthy of praise. Highly recommended.