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Forest of Stars (Saga of Seven Suns Series #2)
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Forest of Stars (Saga of Seven Suns Series #2)

4.1 38
by Kevin J. Anderson

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Five years after attacking the human-colonized worlds of the Spiral Arm, the hydrogues maintain absolute control over stardrive fuel...and their embargo is strangling human civilization.

On Earth, mankind suffers from renewed attacks by the hydrogues and decides to use a cybernetic army to fight them. Yet the Terran leaders don't realize that these military


Five years after attacking the human-colonized worlds of the Spiral Arm, the hydrogues maintain absolute control over stardrive fuel...and their embargo is strangling human civilization.

On Earth, mankind suffers from renewed attacks by the hydrogues and decides to use a cybernetic army to fight them. Yet the Terran leaders don't realize that these military robots have already exterminated their own makers - and may soon turn on humanity. Once the rulers of an expanding empire, humans have become the galaxy's most endangered species. But the sudden appearance of incredible new beings will destroy all balances of power.

Now for humans and the myriad alien factions in the universe, the real war is about to begin...and genocide may be the result.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
In A Forest of Stars, the second book in Kevin J. Anderson's sprawling science fiction epic Saga of Seven Suns, an experiment involving an ancient technology accidentally wipes out an entire colony of powerful aliens (hydrogues) and ignites an intergalactic war, placing the very survival of the human species at risk.

Now, several years after the event, the hydrogues have absolute control over the galaxy's gas-giant planets -- the only source of ekti (stardrive fuel) -- and the subsequent embargo is slowly squeezing the life out of human colonies across the galaxy. But there are other, less-apparent dangers facing humanity: The supposedly peaceful humanoid race of Ildirans is secretly conducting heinous breeding programs on human captives, and sentient alien robots are programming their human-created counterparts to overthrow their masters.

Like Anderson's Dune prequel novels (coauthored with Brian Herbert), the Saga of Seven Suns is epic in every sense of the word. With hundreds of characters (human, alien, and robotic), dozens of plotlines unfolding on just as many planets across the Spiral Arm, and diverse thematic threads involving ecology, religion, mythology, xenophobia, and sentient rights, this saga is easily Anderson's best work to date. Paul Goat Allen

Publishers Weekly
Bestseller Anderson turns up the heat in his second Saga of the Seven Suns installment (after 2002's Hidden Empire), proving he has firepower to burn. He weaves action, romance and science with a rousing plot reflecting the classic SF of Clarke and Herbert and the glossy cinematic influence of Lucas and Spielberg. Five years after the events in Hidden Empire, hydrogues, gas giant aliens, continue to plague the Terran Hanseatic League in retaliation for the Hansa's "accidental" destruction of a hydrogue planet. This time they're also eager to destroy their ancient enemy, the Verdani, an interconnected, semi-sentient worldforest far more dangerous to the quicksilver aliens than mere humans ("The roots of a tree can shatter mountains, given time"). EDF (Earth Defense Forces) have hidden enemies in the Klikiss robots, whose resolve to reprogram "compies" (short for "Competent Computerized Companions") into human-killing robots is just as alarming as covert alien experiments on humans. Anderson's well-drawn cast includes spy Davin Lotze, an exosociologist who discovers a new method of space travel; earthy space-trader Rlinda Kett; King Peter, a reluctant "puppet" who challenges power-mad Basil Wenceslas; and DD, the terrified friendly compy kidnapped by a ruthless Klikiss robot. Sparked with surprises, enriched by ecological issues that laypersons can appreciate, this saga soars as it exposes the inner and external roots of war. (July 17) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Five years after a scientific experiment aroused the anger of the hydrogues, a previously unknown race native to giant gas planets, the war between humans and hydrogues has resulted in a faltering economy for Earth and its colonies. With fuel for interstellar travel strictly controlled, the Terran Hanseatic League faces rebellion from some of its colonies. When Jess Tamblyn, an enterprising pilot of a nomadic group of spacefaring humans known as the Roamers, stumbles upon yet another new alien species, he discovers a potential ally against the hydrogues. Following the actions of a varied group of individuals, including the King of the Hanseatic League, a pair of archaeologists specializing in ancient alien civilizations, and a captive priestess of the World Trees, Anderson continues his epic tale of interstellar war and politics begun in Hidden Empire. Rapid-fire action and panoramic plotting make this a first-class space opera suitable for most sf collections. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Ultraprolific Anderson has penned a forest of novels in the Star Wars, X-Files, and Dune, not counting entries with L. Ron Hubbard, Doug Benson, and the solo effort Hopscotch (2002). Most recently, Anderson kicked off his own SF series with Hidden Empire (2002), of which A Forest of Stars is volume two. Humans of the Terran Hanseatic Federation of Earth start a galaxy-wide war in the year 2427 when they ignite the gas-planet Oncier, a pastel globe of hydrogen five times the size of Jupiter, to illuminate and help power colonization of Oncier's four moons, with Oncier as a new sun. Unbeknownst to humans, Oncier is populated by the Hydrogues, whose home the Terrans have inadvertently wiped out, thus displeasing the Mage-Imperator of the dying-out Ildirans, who falsely intuit that Terrans want to take over a whole spiral arm of the galaxy. Thus war vibes arise between Ildirans and Terrans. Also on hand are the gypsy Roamers who mine ekti, the dwindling universal stardrive fuel, the Worldtrees and Green Priests of Theroc, all of them spelled out in Anderson's glossary of really weird words and titles, his Command Structure of the Earth Defense Forces, the Noble-Born Children of Prime Designate Jora'h (the Mage-Imperator's son), the Known Klikiss (insectoid robots), Planets in the New Hansa Colonization Initiative, the Ruling Family of Theoric, and Clan Tamblyn-all very necessary. Five years pass after the unwitting implosion of the home of the Hydrogues. Priests symbiotic with the Worldforest, a sentient computer with data stored in trees, warn that the Hydrogues have indeed turned mercilessly hostile toward Terrans. As all-out war looms, the Terrans join forces with water-based Wentals andsun-dwelling Faeros. Anderson models his darkening epic on Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series-now in its 11th volume. Quo vadis, Kevin? Agents: Matt Bialer, Robert Gottlieb, Kim Whalen/Trident Media Group

Product Details

Publication date:
Saga of Seven Suns Series , #2
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Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.54(w) x 11.06(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

A Forest of Stars

By Kevin J. Anderson

Time Warner

Copyright © 2003 WordFire, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0446528714

Chapter One


Across the Spiral Arm, the gas-giant planets held secrets, dangers, and treasure. For a century and a half, harvesting vital stardrive fuel from the cloud worlds had been a lucrative business for the Roamers.

Five years ago, though, that had all changed.

Like vicious guard dogs, the hydrogues had forbidden all skymines from approaching the gas giants they claimed as their territory. The embargo had crippled the Roamer economy, the Terran Hanseatic League, and the Ildiran Empire. Many brave or foolish entrepreneurs had defied the hydrogues' ultimatum. They had paid with their lives. Dozens of skymines were destroyed. The deep-core aliens were unstoppable and ruthless.

But when facing desperate situations, Roamers refused to give up. Instead, they changed tactics, surviving-and thriving-through innovation.

"The old Speaker always told us that challenges redefine the parameters of success," Jess Tamblyn said over the open comm, taking his lookout ship into position above the deceptively peaceful-looking gas giant Welyr.

"By damn, Jess," Del Kellum transmitted with just a touch of annoyance, "if I wanted to be pampered, I'd live on Earth."

Kellum, an older clan leader and hands-on industrialist, signaled to the converging fast-dive scoop ships. The cluster of modified "blitzkrieg" skymines and a hodgepodge of small lookout craft gathered at what they hoped was a safe distance above the coppery planet. No one knew how far away the hydrogues could detect trespassing cloud thieves, but they had long since given up playing it safe. In the end, all life was a gamble, and human civilization could not survive without stardrive fuel.

The ekti-scavenging crew powered up their huge scoops and containers, ready for a concerted plunge into the thick cloud decks. Hit and run. Their supercharged engines glowed warm. Their pilots sweated. Ready.

Alone in his lookout ship, Jess flexed his hands on the cockpit controls. "Prepare to come from all sides. Move in fast, gulp a bellyful, and head for safety. We don't know how long the drogue bastards will give us."

After the big harvesting ships acknowledged, they dropped like hawks after prey. What once had been a routine industrial process had become a commando operation in a war zone.

When presented with the hydrogue threat, daring Roamer engineers had redesigned traditional skymining facilities. They had accomplished a lot in five years. The new blitzkrieg scoops had giant engines, superefficient ekti reactors, and detachable cargo tanks like a cluster of grapes. Once each tank was filled, it could be launched up to a retrieval point, passing off the harvested ekti a bit at a time without losing a full cargo load if-when-the hydrogues came after them.

Kellum transmitted, "The Big Goose thinks we're shiftless bandits. By damn, let's give the drogues the same impression."

The Hansa-the "Big Goose"-paid dearly for every drop of stardrive fuel. As ekti supplies dwindled year after year, prices skyrocketed to a point that Roamers considered the risk acceptable.

Five of the modified scoops now dispersed across the atmosphere, then plunged into Welyr's clouds, storm upwellings, and vanishingly thin winds. With giant funnel-maws open, the blitzkrieg scoops roared through storm systems at top speed. They gobbled resources, compressing the excess into hydrogen-holding tanks while secondary ekti reactors processed the gas.

As he flew his lookout mission, like a man in the crow's nest of an ancient pirate ship, Jess deployed floating sensors into Welyr's soupy clouds. The buoys would detect any large ships rising from the depths. The sensors might give only a few minutes' warning, but the daredevils could retreat quickly enough.

Jess knew that it did no good to fight. The Ildiran Solar Navy and the Hansa EDF had demonstrated that lesson often enough. At the first sign of the enemy's arrival, his renegade harvesters would turn and run with whatever ekti they'd managed to grab.

The first blitzkrieg scoop filled one cargo tank and rose high enough to jettison it, leaving a smoke trail in the thin air. A resounding cheer echoed across the comm, and the competitive Roamers challenged each other to do better. The unmanned fuel tank soared away from Welyr toward its rendezvous point. Safe.

In times past, leisurely skymines had drifted over the clouds like whales feeding on plankton. Jess's brother, Ross, had been the chief of Blue Sky Mine on Golgen; he'd had dreams, an excellent business sense, and all the hopes in the world. Without warning, though, hydrogues had obliterated the facility, killing every member of the crew....

Jess monitored his scans. Though the sinking sensor buoys detected no turbulence that might signal the approach of the enemy, he didn't let his attention waver. Welyr seemed much too quiet and peaceful. Deceptive.

Every crewman aboard the blitzkrieg scoops was tense, knowing they had only one chance here, and that some of them would likely die as soon as the hydrogues arrived.

"Here's a second one, highest-quality ekti!" Del Kellum's harvester launched a full cargo tank. Within moments, each of the five blitzkrieg scoops had ejected a load of ekti. The scavengers had been at Welyr for less than three hours, and already it was a valuable haul.

"Good way to thumb our noses at the drogues," Kellum continued, his anxiety manifesting as chattiness over the comm band, "though I'd prefer to slam them with a few comets. Just like you did at Golgen, Jess."

Jess smiled grimly. His cometary bombardment had made him a hero among the Roamers, and he hoped that the planet was now uninhabitable, all the enemy aliens destroyed. A strike back. "I was just following my Guiding Star."

Now many clans looked to Jess for suggestions on how they might continue their retaliation against the aliens' nonsensical prohibition.

"You and I have a lot in common," Kellum said, his voice more conspiratorial now that he had switched to a private frequency. "And if you ever do another bombardment, might I suggest this place as a target?"

"What have you got against Welyr?" Then he remembered. "Ah, you were planning to marry Shareen of the Pasternak clan."

"Yes, by damn!" Shareen Pasternak had been the chief of a skymine on Welyr. Jess recalled that the woman had an acidly sarcastic sense of humor and a sharp tongue, but Kellum had been delighted with her. It would have been the second marriage for both of them. But Shareen's skymine had been destroyed in the early hydrogue depredations.

Now three more ekti cargo tanks launched away from the racing blitzkrieg scoops.

Trish Ng, the pilot of a second lookout ship, frantically radioed Jess, cutting off the conversation. "The sensor buoys! Check the readings, Jess."

He saw a standard carrier wave with a tiny blip in the background. "It's just a lightning strike. Don't get jumpy, Ng."

"That same lightning strike repeats every twenty-one seconds. Like clockwork." She waited a beat. "Jess, it's an artificial signal, copied, looped, and reflected back at us. The drogues must've already destroyed the sensor buoys. It's a ruse."

Jess watched, and the pattern became apparent. "That's all the warning we're going to get. Everybody, pack up and head out!"

As if realizing they had been discovered, seven immense warglobes rose like murderous leviathans from Welyr's deep clouds. The Roamer scavengers did not hesitate, retreating pell-mell up through the gas giant's skies.

A deep-throated subsonic hum came from the alien spheres, and pyramidal protrusions on their crystalline skins crackled with blue lightning. The Roamer daredevils had all seen the enemy shoot their destructive weapons before.

Kellum ejected four empty ekti cargo tanks, throwing them like grapeshot at the nearest warglobes. "Choke on these!"

Jess shouted into the comm, "Don't wait. Just leave."

Kellum's diversion worked. The aliens targeted their blue lightning on the empty projectiles, giving the blitzkrieg scoops a few more seconds to escape. The Roamers fired their enormous engines, and four of the five harvester scoops lifted on an escape trajectory.

But one of the new vessels hung behind just a moment too long, and the enemy lightning bolts ripped the facility to molten shreds. The crew's screams echoed across the comm channel, then cut off instantly.

"Go! Go!" Jess yelled. "Disperse and get out of here."

The remaining commando harvesters scattered like flies. The automated cargo tanks would go to their pickup coordinates, where the commandos could retrieve the haul at their leisure.

The warglobes rose up, shooting more blue lightning into space. They struck and destroyed a lagging lookout ship, but the others escaped. The enemy spheres remained above the atmosphere for some time, like growling wolves, before they slowly descended back into the coppery storms of Welyr, without pursuing.

Though dismayed at the loss of one blitzkrieg scoop and a lookout ship, the raiders were already tallying the ekti they had harvested and projecting how much it would bring on the open market.

Alone in the cockpit of his scout ship, Jess shook his head. "What has happened to us, if we can cheer because our losses were 'not too bad'?"


Excerpted from A Forest of Stars by Kevin J. Anderson Copyright © 2003 by WordFire, Inc.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Meet the Author

Kevin J. Anderson has written 46 national bestsellers and has over 20 million books in print worldwide in 30 languages. He has been nominated for the Nebula Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and the SFX Readers' Choice Award. Find out more about Kevin Anderson at www.wordfire.com.

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Forest of Stars (Saga of Seven Suns Series #2) 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 38 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Story keeps moving along. Sorry to see some major characters are dead. The fall of I lira would be nice. King Peter needs to remove the chairman permanently.
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MichaelTravisJasper More than 1 year ago
By the time I dove into this second novel in the seven volume saga, I was hooked on the story. I am really cheering for the well being of the characters now and invested in the narrative. Slowly but surely, this huge tale of civilizations scattered through space has developed into a fun and interesting story. There are many characters, and each contributes. This large series is developing into a creation similar in nature to the vast fictional Dune universe, as I hoped it would. I have already begun the third book, and am enjoying this “space opera” very much. Michael Travis Jasper, Author of the Novel “To Be Chosen”
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Glitchster More than 1 year ago
This has become addictive. I had to buy Book #3. I found the action a little slow and the prose a bit flat. But the tremendous amount of characters and world cultures that are introduced takes up most of the pages to introduce the reader to the complex plotting. Although Anderson seems to achieve plodding through the first two books, getting the reader introduced to the SAGA. He does it fairly well. I gave it three stars because I kept falling asleep every ten pages. But I'm sure it's just my low sugar. I told myself I wasn't going to read the rest of the SAGA. But, I found after a few days I kept wondering what was going to happen with the Klickiss robot conspiracy and will the HANSA be able to defeat the Hydrogues. Being in my late 50's I find it a struggle to remember all the names and worlds visited. I'm sure I would appreciate it more twenty years ago when I could've imagined joining the EARTH DEFENSE FORCE traveling light years to meet a lldiran of a privileged kith, after sending a message through a local Green Priest to prepare a guest room with thick curtains to keep the scorching radiance from the seven suns blinding me while I try to sleep. OK... I'm starting book three!
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