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

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

by Kevin J. Anderson

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Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780759528147
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 07/01/2003
Series: Saga of Seven Suns Series , #2
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 82,384
File size: 2 MB

About 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.

Read an Excerpt

A Forest of Stars


By Kevin J. Anderson

Time Warner

Copyright © 2003 WordFire, Inc.
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0446528714


Chapter One


JESS TAMBLYN

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'?"

(Continues...)



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.

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Forest of Stars (Saga of Seven Suns Series #2) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 45 reviews.
JeffV on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Much better than the first book, probably because far fewer principle character are killed off. Humanity is at war with a mysterious, powerful race and their full military capacity seems unable to phase them. These aliens, the Hydroges, live inside of gas giant planets, and a war was inadvertently triggered when, in the first book, an ancient technology was tested that turned such planets into small suns. The Hydroges were not amused as cities containing millions were annihilated. With the war going poorly, humanity considers using the ancient technology to blow up other known planets, but are concerned that doing so could trigger a campaign of extermination. Little do they know such a campaign is already under way.There is still some very strange twists and turns. Humans are proving to be late arrivals in what was an ancient war. The World Trees, a sentient tree that can transmit thoughts across vast distances instantaneously with the help of "green priests" are an ancient enemy of these Hydroges, and the real reason humans are being targeted is because they are aligned with and sheltering these trees. Meanwhile, a fiery race dwelling in suns is also made an appearance, joining the war without even a how-do-you-do by an exploding diplomatic emissaries. Then one of the characters from the first book discovers some sentient water that condensed as he was scooping up free hydrogen in a nebula cloud. In spite of the war, political machinations continue abound. The chairman of the Hanseatic League is dissatisfied by the lack of tractability in what was supposed to be his puppet king, Peter (replacement for Frederick, who was blown up by the aforementioned emissary. Political marriages are arranged which could create a string of alliances throughout all of the human groups, but war causalities are wreaking havoc even on the aristocrats. And then there are the robots. Evil, evil robots.
amobogio on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Couldn't engage with this one and the idea that there were still five more after this - had to abort.
Karlstar on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Things don't get much better in this 2nd book of the Saga. The mysterious hygrogues continue to attack the human and Ildiran civilizations, and the humans continue to remain blissfully ignorant about just about everything. Apparently in this future while they have some neat technogadgets like a FTL drive, they don't have any sort of improved sensor technology, robotics, weapons technology, or a whole lot of common sense. There are some interesting ideas in these books, but they move too slow, the 'science' is far too uneven and inconsistent, and the reader has to ignore far too many things to make them really worth reading.
lithicbee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kevin J. Anderson set all his toy soldiers out in the first book, a tedious if necessary procedure. In this second volume, he gets to pick them up by the fistful and smash them against each other, which is much more fun. Besides the familiar cast from the first book, a couple of more alien players take the stage as well, promising some epic battles in the coming books. This one definitely kept me turning the pages.The book is a bit less repetitive in its descriptions this time around, although you will still find yourself reading passages, especially exposition about character's motivations, that you already read earlier in the book, and in the book before that.One complaint: The whole Klikiss robot conspiracy is painfully obvious: how can the humans not see this coming? And didn't Anderson do this already in the Dune prequels?
kmv on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This series continues to amuse me by combining all the stereotypical and overused sci-fi story elements into one epic. We've got tragic love stories, an evil corporation, ancient evil robots who rebelled against their creators, grudges between ancient races of aliens, some very strange types of ancient aliens (including sentient and telepathic trees for some reason), huge space battles, and, of course, plenty of scrappy and resourceful humans. I love it like I love made for TV movies about space monsters/godzillas/fill in your favorite really bad and clichéd entity.
DWWilkin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Book 2 of Seven. That places me closer to the finish line. Looking now at what will probably be close to 4500 pages of material, and being 28% done, we should have plot twists and we do. When you thought before we had three, perhaps four combatants by the end of the last book, that number has nearly doubled.Not that the short chapters and the cast of thousands still does not detract from the book. Though I also read it several years after publication, the story line seems to echo in my memory, and so do several of the plot points. I wonder if I have read this all before by another author. Somethings are different, the archaeologist thread, the world forest, but the battles always lost at the beginning, the abandoned officer, those seem to come from stories that are part of sci-fi lore by other authors. It is possible that it is being done better here.But also worse. When you confront some introspection all in four pages and then flip to the next scene, it is a disservice to one of our many protagonists. We have so many it is hard to keep track of who are our real heroes and who are our villains. Where the smartest people are, and that too few brains at the top syndrome permeates to govern a society of billions. (The whole chairman, one commanders in chief, General thing is worrisome, since we know from our own reality that the top man would have hundreds of advisers who would be the best in their fields, relying on many other brains to filter information. One man can not do it all.)To judge on style then, this book would get lower marks. Too short chapters, too many characters, action is decidedly lacking and one sided, the bad guys always win right now... (That changes as new allies? come to play)To judge on story, except for the echo of what has happened in other very well done science fiction epics, it is getting better. Based on the first two, may not be worth a read, but by the end (3000+ pages to go) it may be so.
kainlane on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Book two of the Saga of the Seven Suns worked well to continue the story of the numerous characters featured in book 1. Speaking on that point, there are almost too many POV characters to keep track of and really care for. Any lesser author than Kevin J. Anderson and it would have failed miserably. What I did like about this book was that it went further in depth of the ancient war that is being renewed. He brings about all of the four races, though some are still very shrouded in mystery. I would like more information released about the Klikiss, though too. Another problem with the numerous POV characters, is the fact that there is so much repetition. I counted at least 12 at one point, though some die off, some are not featured as often, and then of course some are very important. Since it moves between them so often, it can be six or more chapters down before coming back to the same character. Then Anderson has to repeat (loosely for the benefit of the reader) what happened last time the character was featured. Overall, I liked the book. I will definitely read the third in the series when I can get my hands on it. Lucky for me, they are already released so I can get straight to it, though due to it's problems I won't rush.
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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