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Heirs Of Earth Mass Market Paperback – December 30, 2003
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In fact, if I had any complaint about the book, it was at the end one never really truly understood what it was the Spinners and the Starfish - collectively known as the Ambivalence to the Yuhl - were doing. Sure, lots of theories were put out by Peter Alander, Caryl Hatzis, and the various engrams, but even at the very end (sorry if this is a spoiler) the reader doesn't know for sure. As I wrote, perhaps that is unavoidable given how vastly alien the authors made the Starfish and Spinners.
That doesn't mean the story is not otherwise excellent. The bulk of the book centered around a desperate mission by Peter, several versions of Caryl (both the original, Sol, and two other engrams of her), and one of the Frank Axford engrams to seek out the Starfish, first to do battle with them with a fleet of hole ships and probes to gain intelligence, then to infiltrate one of their massive vessels and hitch a ride to the Starfish fleet, in hopes of communicating with them, passing information to them about a star system that they have reason to believe to be the Spinner base in hopes of ending their destructive path through the stars. Unsure if they can even get aboard, survive while there, find someone to talk to in the Starfish fleet (rather than be destroyed out of hand), and get the Starfish to believe them, it is a plan with a lot of "ifs," very bold to be sure, but their last, best hope for those engrams and Yuhl who were not fleeing the Starfish front, attempting what some among the Yuhl called the "Species Dream," of finding a permanent home on a planet, hopefully having successfully neutralized or avoided the Starfish threat.
As in the second book, there were a number of surprises, particularly with regards to the Starfish themselves, the true nature of the Yuhl, and to the ultimate abilities of Frank Axford. While there was definitely an ending, the authors did leave room to explore the setting again. If they did, I would be interested in revisiting this universe.
I really enjoyed the trilogy as a whole and would definitely recommend it to anyone.
And a saga it was. The authors have managed to instill in me a sense of wonder not felt since I read Startide Rising by David Brin.
Alien lifeforms are truly alien, incomprehensible to humans. If the protagonists themselves can be called human. Broken engrams, nanotech-modified humans, which then get re-designed by a variety of aliens themselves. It raises the question, just what defines "human".
The authors do provide the answer: the sense of racial self, a refusal to NOT be something special in an uncaring cosmos, never accepting defeat - and in the end "I think, therefore I am ... HUMAN".
As another reviewer has commented on one of the previous books, the characters tend not to be very likeable. But, I found that it is possible to identify with them as their reactions to events and their environments and to each other are believable, even understandable as being the result of extreme stress.
The action in the books moves along at a brisk pace, with frequent surprising turns of events. The climax of the saga is a breathtaking ride...
... which then drops off to a quite unsatisfying denouement. I must agree with the previous reviewer who beat me to being the first one to write a review for this book: somehow the authors managed to paint themselves into a corner and they couldn't write themselves out of it. I suppose it's better than the many deus-ex-machina endings found only too often, but not by much.
In the end I couldn't help but think "oh, I guess there will be a book 4 then, eh?" Or I wondered if the authors lost interest in wrapping up things, after the cosmic rollercoaster ride they had taken the readers along before.
My scores would be 4 for Echoes, 5 for Orphans and 3 for Heirs, with an average of 4 stars. 3 stars for Heirs may be a bit harsh, but the ending takes away from an otherwise 5 star story.
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And I didn't get them. Nothing was explained or resolved satisfactorily, and I had to wade through very ordinary prose full of proofing errors...Read more