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    Review of FORGE OF HEAVEN by C. J. Cherryh (see her website)

    EOS, June 2004

    For thousands of years, Concord Station has hung above a desert world--an desert intentionally created to destroy mankind's aggression. Now, representatives of Earth, the Outworlds, and the alien ondat coexist in uneasy balance, watching the survivors below, interacting with them, helping them, learning for them, but most of all being careful of them. Because one of the survivors is the Ila, the virtually immortal member of the first movement--which almost destroyed both human and ondat civilizations. Others below, in ever-shifting alliance with the Ila, are also immortal, living residences to the nanobe technology that Earth fears so much.

    Keeping the balance is essential for Concord Station--and that balance is threatened when an Earth ship arrives out of schedule. Aboard it, a registered diplomat demands to talk to Procyon, a 'Tap' and one of the few humans allowed contact with the immortal Marak below. The Earth Governor, and Outworld Chairman, traditional rivals, struggle to deal with this request when their entire existance comes under direct attack. Could the First Movement be loose after so many centuries? Could the Ila have penetrated the galaxy's most secure system?

    Author C. J. Cherryh (see more reviews of novels by Cherryh) is at her best in stories of complex interaction, moral ambiguity, and futuristic societies that have constructed cultures that are both dramatically different from those of Earth while remaining logical. FORGE OF HEAVEN is all of these--and an exciting adventure as well. Life-threatening action plays out in the planet below and in the station above, with Procyon, the Chairman and the Governor playing the major roles (although Marak, the key character in Cherryh's HAMMERFALL (see our review) is also a significant character.)

    As with many of Cherryh's books, the reader needs to invest some energy into understanding the culture and background of the world Cherryh describes. Certainly in FORGE OF HEAVEN, the investment pays off. This is a good one.

    Four Stars

    Reviewed 9/02/04

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