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Sun of Suns: Book One of Virga Mass Market Paperback – July 31, 2007

3.8 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews
Book 1 of 5 in the Virga Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The swashbuckling space settlers of Schroeder's fantastical novel (after 2005's Lady of Mazes) inhabit warring nation-states inside a planet-sized balloon called Virga. This adventure-filled tale of sword fights and naval battles stars young Hayden Griffin of the nation of Aerie, orphaned by an attack on the artificial sun that his parents tried to build. He grows up to seek vengeance against the man who led it, Adm. Chaison Fanning of the nation Slipstream. Getting close to Fanning, though, entails infiltrating the flagship Rook and interfering in the schemes of the admiral's wife, the devious Venera. Schroeder layers in scientific rationales for his air-filled, gravity-poor world—with its spinning cylinder towns and miles-long icebergs—but the real fun of this coming-of-age tale includes a pirate treasure hunt and grand scale naval invasions set in the cold, far reaches of space. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

With this book Schroeder launches a saga set on Virga, a balloon-world warmed by artificial suns. The inhabitants build, besides their own suns, floating towns. The spaces between the towns, lacking nearby suns, are wintry cold, and only a few pirates and the utterly desperate live on the towns' edges. Hayden Griffen is dead set on revenge for his parents' deaths in the destruction of his home, Aerie, by the nation of Slipstream six years before. Somewhat unexpectedly, after catching the attention of Venera Fanning and becoming her driver, Hayden is dispatched on a mission under Admiral Chaison Fanning, the man he believes responsible for his parents' demise, to find a vast treasure and, even more valuable, a key to the sun and the world outside, where posthumanity reigns. The satisfying opening of a promising space opera. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Series: Virga (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Science Fiction; 1st edition (July 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765354535
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765354532
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.9 x 6.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,684,736 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This is the third Schroeder book I've read (the other two being Ventus and Permanence), and this one is nothing like those books.

The most impressive aspect of this book has to be the sheer creativity of its world-building: the bizarre world of Virga--which seems to be equal parts Wild West, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Star Trek--is nevertheless utterly convincing (in part because of the even more bizarre Universe, only hinted at, in which Virga lies). Likewise, Schroeder doesn't forget the little details, such as what can, and does, happen when bullets don't hit their intended targets.

Of course, though, world-building alone can't carry a book, and, just as in Schroeder's earlier works, "Sun of Suns" doesn't disappoint. Schroeder constantly kept me guessing as to what the protagonist, Hayden Griffin, was going to do--and that includes even after Schroeder revealed the book's final surprise.

My only criticism, if it can be called that, is this book is relatively short: it is at most half the length of "Ventus." But, in a book as well-crafted as this one, knowing that a sequel awaits more than makes up for any such disappointment. I eagerly await Book Two of Virga.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Sun of Suns is the first book in his Virga trilogy. The next one, Queen of Candesce is out in hardcover. Schroeder has the amazing feat of having his books published in HC first, something not many SciFi authors can lay claim to. And this is only his fourth book, the others being Ventus, Permanence, and my favorite, Lady of Mazes. In just a few books, he has established himself as one of the preeminent authors in the field. He is one of my all-time favorite authors.

Sun of Suns is a fairly short book, 331 pgs in PB form, and set in one of the most innovative "worlds" I've yet to encounter, and that's saying a lot, coming from Schroeder - the master of world-building.

Virga is a planet - where the inhabitants live inside! As the back cover says (but not at the outset in the book - you have to figure it out) - Virga is a fullerene balloon three thousand kilometers in diameter, filled with air, water, and aimlessly floating chunks of rock. The humans who live in this vast environment must build their own fusion suns and 'towns' that are in the shape of enormous wood and rope wheels that are spun for centrifugal gravity."

There are hundred of smaller suns inhabiting Virga, all originally powered off the main sun, Candesce. But to the inhabitants, it's all they've ever known - any other life outside Virga is "lost." Candesce is THE Sun of Suns, larger than all the rest, and providing sunlight for dozens of civilizations. It is the greatest source of heat, and creates the circulation cells of air that cause the nations to migrate slowly inward and outward.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
The concept described in the book is fanastic; however the writing went from serviceable to poor. The idea, of a planet sized balloon filled with air, in which floating city-states build cylinders that people live in which are rotated to create gravity, was amazing enough for me to overlook the shoddy writing and weak, one-note characters for most of the book. Finally though, these flaws became too pronounced and I did not finish it.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was fun, fun, fun. If you like action-packed adventure SF, I bet you will like this. As a huge fan of Hayao Miyazaki's movies, such as "Castle in the Sky" and "Howl's Moving Castle," which feature dashing heroes in 19th century costume flying through the clouds on wondrous airships, I found much appeal in this story and can't wait for the next chapter. Another thing that this novel and Miyazaki's anime films have in common that I really liked: Their heroes find that even their worst enemies are simply human beings, not monsters. There are few true villains in this story; even Venera Fanning, a nominal villainess, has a gritty determination you have to admire.

If you like your SF rigorously hard-boiled, i.e. the universe laid out must be extremely plausible when measured against the physics and biology of our universe, you may be a tad incredulous of Virga (where do all these wooden airships get their lumber, when the floating forests of the Virga Dyson sphere seem to be few and far between?). If you're that sort of reader, you may be annoyed by some of the later story elements involving the technology that makes Virga possible, which relies heavily on Clark's Law ("Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.")

Also, in deference to the reviewer who found the language clunky: As a published non-fiction author, I don't agree. I didn't find any bugs in the language ointment of this book, and I usually notice.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Karl Schroeder is a bona fide science fiction prodigy. He has the Big Ideas of a Philip K. Dick, the logical clarity of an Isaac Asimov and the storytelling chops of a Robert A. Heinlein. Am I speaking heresy? Maybe. But you need to read the Virga series before you judge me.

Imagine a civilization where humans thrive at an industrial-revolution level of technology, a world lit by artificial fusion suns, a world with *no natural gravity*. People ride rocket bikes, towns are built as spinning wheels to generate their own gravitational force, fish swim through the air and a stray bullet can travel a thousand miles.

This is the world of Virga, and it's where Schroeder sets a tale with a steampunk ethos that can only be described as 'swashbuckling'.

Hayden Griffin is the son of resistance fighters who are working in secret to build a new sun for their nation of Aerie after the nation of Slipstream destroyed their old one and subjugated them. However Slipstream gets wind of the plan and Hayden's parents are killed. Eager for revenge, Hayden ingratiates himself into the service of Slipstream's Admiral Chaisson Fanning and his scheming wife, Venera. However he quickly finds himself drawn into a quite different adventure searching for a fabled treasure, one that will lead him to Candesce, the sun of suns at the heart of Virga.

Revenge, intrigue, romance, betrayal - this book has all that, plus pirates, a secret invasion force and a lot of mind-bending world building. Schroeder's vision of a gravity-free world populated by pre-computer civilizations is realized in brilliant detail. It's also an introduction in high style to the five-book Virga series, one of the most original, well-developed and gripping SF series to come down the pike in a long long time.

Do yourself a favor and pick it up.
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