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    Review of HIDDEN EMPIRE by Kevin J. Anderson (see his website)


    Warner Books, July 2002

    Humanity has reached the stars--not through their own efforts, but largely through the gift of an alien race. The ancient Ildiran Empire has dominated the stars alone for thousands of years. They have willingly shared their technology with the humans, but are now increasingly concerned about the human urge to expand, and the risks that humans are willing to take. When the humans take one risk too many, creating a new star out of a gas giant, both humans and Ildirans must pay the price. The gas giants are inhabited--and don't take kindly to the genocide of their people.

    Author Kevin J. Anderson (see more reviews of novels by this author) delivers an impressive display of world-building. The divisions of humans into mercantile Hanse, mystic Theroc, and entrepreneurial Roamers, the all-knowing Priest-King of the Ildiran, and the enigmatic robots of long-extinct Klikiss make for a fascinating background. Unfortunately, Anderson's clunky writing, constant repetition, and the illogical actions of many of his characters mar an otherwise interesting story.

    The humans have an ultimate weapon at their fingertips--the tool that created a star from a planet that set off the war in the first place, yet neither they, nor the inhabitants of the gas giants seem to recognize the power that this gives them--or the danger that it offers to the gas dwellers. And if the Ildiran really knew about this ancient enemy, why didn't they stop the crazy human experiment in the first place? With careful editing, this could have been a fine novel. Perhaps Anderson will deliver in the sequel.

    Two Stars

    Reviewed 9/27/02

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