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A sequel trilogy to Anderson's popular "Saga of the Seven Suns" series (which finished with 2008's The Ashes of Worlds) begins in the Spiral Arm 20 years later. The Ildirans and humans are still at peace, having together won the Elemental Wars. But an old threat from Ildira's distant past has resurfaced that could swallow the galaxy and all the sentient races in it. Making matters worse, the remnants of the Klikiss robot army are strangely immune to the shadowy enemy. If these two races ally, humans and Ildirans have little hope. VERDICT Although the narrative picks up speed when the enemy finally appears midway through this long novel, Anderson devotes a large portion of the book to setting the stage. There are perhaps too many point-of-view characters and the short chapters mean that the reader doesn't engage with them before switching again. Patient readers will be rewarded as the narrative progresses and each character's story begins to fit together.