Book Review: The Saga of Seven Suns (2002-08)

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Published on: 2011.11.01

Title: (seven books; see list below)
Author: Kevin J. Anderson
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Orbit Books

I reviewed Book 1 of “The Saga of Seven Suns” 11 months ago (see review of Hidden Empire). In the intervening months, I’ve managed to finish the seven-book series and came away very pleased.

Overall, my praise (and complaints) for the rest of the series is very similar to what I said about Hidden Empire, so I don’t want to repeat much of it here.

Here’s the complete list of books:

Hidden Empire
A Forest of Stars
Horizon Storms
Scattered Suns
Of Fire and Night
Metal Swarm
The Ashes of Worlds

Each book had its own series of climaxes, but none of them except the last one actually ended. Each book just kind of cut off. It was clear that all seven books were written with a plan in mind; there was no separate storyline or plot for each book; just one very long storyline and plot that was divided into seven books. (Which is why I’m now reviewing the entire series instead of each book.)

Of the seven titles, only the first and last felt like good titles to me — relating to the content of the books. The other five could have gone without titles and it would have been fine.

The series’ climax came late in Book 7 (as expected), but earlier than expected. There’s a modern trend of books and movies ending abruptly after the climax, leaving you to wonder where everyone went, what they did afterward, and so on. I’ve grown used to it but never liked it. Anderson spent quite a few short chapters after the story’s climax tying up all the loose ends and letting the reader have closure with each character. For some readers, it might seem like overkill, but I liked it.

In my review of Book 1, I complained that the author spent too much time reintroducing each character every time the story came back to them. This trend continued through the book, but tapered off. By the final few books, I noticed that it had ceased. I guess anyone who reads that far is expected to be familiar with all the characters. Personally, I would have preferred that it tapered off earlier.

The series began with an epic event, and continued to follow with larger and larger and more mind-blowing incidents. The story is truly epic in scope, following several sentient races through their good and bad contact with each other, including changing alliances, rescuing entire species, destroying entire planets, and even melding species on more than one occasion.

It was fun to read, all the way through.

I’ll add one nit-picky complaint, since it bothered me throughout. The word “shudder” is common enough that most people are aware of its meaning and spelling. But it’s not common enough that we use it every day. I’m willing to bet that most people don’t use the word “shudder” as often as once a month.

But Anderson uses it almost constantly. “The ship shuddered from the impact.” “Tasia shuddered when she thought of it.” There were stretches where the word was used in every chapter (and Anderson’s chapters are relatively short). I started looking for instances of synonyms and couldn’t find them. If the following synonyms were used, they were rare: bounce, bobble, convulse, flutter, jitter, quake, quiver, shake, shiver, spasm, tremble, twitch, and vibrate. And each of those would have been appropriate in several places where “shudder” was used.

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