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Empress of Eternity Hardcover – November 9, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Prolific author Modesitt (Imager's Intrigue) stumbles with this tedious tale of a far future in which a new ice age threatens Earth, and a vast canal, built by an ancient civilization, splits the world's central continent for no readily discernible reason. Even more glacial than the ice is the narrative, replete with whole chapters that could have profitably been rewritten into single paragraphs or even single sentences. Occasional hints of international tension show promise, but the characters are no more than blandly chattering ciphers, and the distant epoch lacks so much detail that it might as well be the present day. While there might be some appeal for the hardest of hardcore Modesitt fans, new readers would be well advised to start reading elsewhere.
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From Booklist

Far in the future, a massive, indestructible canal spans the midcontinent of Earth, splitting it in two. In 1331 RE, married scientists Maertyn and Maarlyna see threats to the climate in the increased glacial activity they observe. They are looking for clues that could explain the canal, but also face a budget crisis that could end their research. In 2471 RE, scientists Eltyn and Faelyna are studying the canal, trying to learn what they can before a massive drought destroys the land. In the meantime, their hive society falls to civil war. In 3123, researchers Duhyle and Helkira are studying the canal when insurrectionists rise against the global government, using a weapon that could destroy the planet and possibly the entire universe. The scientists of all three cultures find themselves pulled into a joint effort to stop this destruction, by the forces that built and maintain the canal. The plot is classic, but in his pictures of three different societies fighting the same battle, Modesitt shows that cultures may change but people don’t. A provocative, enthralling story. --Frieda Murray
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books; First Edition edition (November 9, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765326647
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765326645
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,287,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

After spending years writing poetry, political speeches and analyses, as well as economic and technical reports on extraordinarily detailed and often boring subjects, I finally got around to writing my first short story, which was published in 1973. I kept submitting and occasionally having published stories until an editor indicated he'd refuse to buy any more until I wrote a novel. So I did, and it was published in 1982, and I've been writing novels -- along with a few short stories -- ever since.

If you want to know more, you can visit my website at www.lemodesittjr.com.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Stefan VINE VOICE on November 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It's hard not to get excited whenever L.E. Modesitt Jr. releases a new standalone sci-fi novel. Despite being better known for his various fantasy series than his science fiction, some of his best work can be found in the latter genre. Novels like The Parafaith War, Archform: Beauty, Adiamante and Haze (just to name a few) are wonderful examples of this amazingly prolific author's talent when it comes to science fiction. The newest addition to this list, Empress of Eternity, is no exception. Despite being a bit dry and inaccessible, its scope and ambition are stunning.

The novel follows three separate story lines, set in far-future Earth societies that are separated by tens of thousands of years. In each of these, scientists are investigating a 2000 mile long artificial structure known as the Mid Continent Canal. The canal is indestructible: even a meteor hit in the far past seems to have made no impact. Researchers are especially interested in learning more because the canal doesn't seem to be affected by temperature changes in the same way as other materials -- and in each of the future societies described in the book, extreme climate change is causing untold havoc for human civilization, including (in the third one) a brewing rebellion that employs a doomsday device that could unravel the structure of the entire universe...

Empress of Eternity is, initially, a very hard novel to get into. The rapid introduction of three completely distinct far future societies, without much in the way of exposition, makes for a confusing set of opening chapters.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Judah on December 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I had a hard time achieving immersion in the novel until around chapter ten, because Modesitt is really telling three separate stories, each with their own cast of characters, which intersect through the 'mystery Earth canal' later in the book. The reader is essentially reading three separate books, vaguely linked by a similar setting, and it may put some people off. Endure it, and you'll be rewarded later.

One setting uses Norse mythological names, shadow entanglement as science, as deals with true believers coming into a universe destroying doomsday weapon (The Hammer). One setting uses a human hive mind, focuses on two engineering techs studying the 'canal' during a coup in their repressive society, and has a weird truncated language accent for easier information dumping. One setting follows a lower technology civilization facing global climate change, where a military based cabal is subverting a democratic republic with hereditary Lords.

Multi-faceted with a high amount of detail to understand, the story comes together in the late book. Rather than spoiling, I'll simply write, 'A Unique Look At Time Travel.' Plenty of reflective observation on civilizations and empire that is typical of Modesitt's works. If you can get into this complex book, a great read, but I don't think I'd use it to introduce someone to Modesitt.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Indy Reviewer VINE VOICE on November 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Much as he's done on the fantasy side, L. E. Modesitt has written some great scifi (Adiamante, The Parafaith War) and some pretty mediocre stuff (Flash, The Elysium Commission). "Empress of Eternity" falls roughly in the middle, with the biggest issue being that the main plot doesn't really commence until the last third of the book. Still, a decent enough read. A star off for the somewhat awkward plot progression leaves this at 4 stars.

The first two thirds of the book alternate between three separate but related short stories. Three sets of researchers hundreds of thousands of years apart are desperately seeking any information on an incredibly sophisticated alien artifact as their governments begin to collapse around them. To do so, they all end up in a lighthouse of sorts until they learn how to access the technology. This part isn't anything special, as Modesitt has written probably 25 versions of the one-hero-against-government/technology/religion story by now. While it's competently done, if you've read Modesitt before, you'll have a pretty good idea how the plot is going to progress (and how to grit your teeth at his attempts at romance writing) long before it happens.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By booksforabuck VINE VOICE on September 8, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In three different ages, pairs of scientists examine a mysterious artifact. Although human civilizations have risen and fallen, the mysterious "canal" remains. Stretching across an entire continent, the canal seems almost independent of the environment around it. Millions of years of sandstorm haven't touched the surface of its white walls. Even laser and asteroid impact cannot phase it. Yet it seems to have no gravitational anomolies. Stranger still, portions of the canal wall respond... but only to human touch.

As the three pair of scientists investigate, their worlds are collapsing around them. In every case, extremists, looking for easy answers rather than the truth, are on the verge of overthrowing the governments. Environmental destruction (in one case, global warming, in another a new ice age) weaken the legitimacy of the existing government at at time when they can least afford it. In every case, the extremists see the canal as a source of power and are intent on claiming it for their own. In every case, only the scientists can stand against them, but what can they do when the "stone" of the canal responds to the attackers as easily as it does the defenders?

Only by unlocking the secrets of the canal can any of the scientists hope to avert disaster, save their own lives, or even avert the early destruction of the entire universe. But the canal has guarded its secrets for tens of thousands of years and time is running out.

Author L. E. Modesitt, Jr. has bitten off a lot in this story. Three pair of characters living in worlds that hold many parallels but are centuries (perhaps many centuries) apart are forced to confront not only the mysteries of the canal, but those of time itself.
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