From Publishers Weekly
This fast-paced virtuoso exercise in world-building is the third novel (after 2007's Queen of Candesce
) set in Virga, a 5,000-mile wide balloon with a central artificial sun and many nations clustered around their own smaller suns. Admiral Chaison Fanning, imprisoned for a daring raid that foiled an attack on his home nation of Slipstream, is rescued by his wife, Venera, but finds he's now regarded as a traitor. Fighting alongside Antaea Argyre, a mysterious woman from the dark far edges of Virga, Fanning learns more about the universe outside and the powers of Candesce, the central sun. Virga is wonderfully imagined, with itinerant gravity sellers, floating farms in nets of dirt, and battles in which one town invades another as buildings smash together and people gather at windows with homemade weapons. The intrigue surrounding a brewing revolution and the threat of invading forces carry readers quickly through this adventure and on to the next installment. (Aug.)
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In the balloon world of Virga, Venera Fanning has fled from Spyre, and Chaison Fanning is suddenly rescued from prison. He falls in with two others from the same clink, Darius Martor and Richard Reiss, and Antaea Argyre of the Virga home guard. They set off, Chaison to confront the ruler who left him to rot for a crime he didn’t commit, and Antaea for her own complex reasons involving the still-mysterious world outside the bubble of Virga. Chaison still hopes to reunite with Venera, of whose adventures he has no inkling. All are caught up in the webs of those who want the key to Candesce, and the power that would come with it, for themselves. Schroeder’s world building continues (from Sun of Suns, 2006, and Queen of Candesce, 2007) to be impeccable, and the story’s timing is a fantastic tour de force of his creation. The politics and social structure of Virga continue to be a fine backdrop for some of the most entertaining space opera out there. --Regina Schroeder