Spherical Harmonic

by Catherine Asaro

Cover image

Series: Skolian Empire #7
Publisher: Tor
Copyright: November 2001
Printing: December 2001
ISBN: 0-312-89063-X
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 512

Buy at Powell's Books

Note that this is the seventh book of the Skolian Empire series and is very much wrapped up in the plot so far. I do not recommend reading it out of order.

Finally, after exploring several side stories, Asaro picks up the thread of the main plot after the end of Ascendant Sun. This is the story of Dyhianna (Dehya), as foreshadowed at the end of Ascendant Sun, but it's hard to say more about it than that without spoiling the previous books. This book deals directly with the events of war and empire, and there is considerable advancement of the plot surrounding the Ruby Empire.

I liked this book fairly well, almost entirely due to the well-done first person narration that lets the reader really get into the head of the main character. Dehya has been a fascinating but largely background character through all of the previous Skolian Empire novels, and it's good to finally get her direct take on the universe and some insight into how she thinks, particularly since she's no less fascinating as a viewpoint character.

On the negative side, though, the writing style is a bit choppy in places, enough to be a touch distracting. There were a few places, particularly near the beginning, where lots of short, similarly-structured sentences threw me out of the story into an awareness of the prose. The plot also gets led from place to place by the brute force of Dehya's intuition (well, mathematical models, but it amounts to the same thing), which felt a bit forced in retrospect.

Those aside, though, there is much to like here. Kelric (from The Last Hawk, the best book in the series, as well as Ascendant Sun) returns briefly but very appropriately, and Dehya is likeable, competent, and eloquent throughout. Interesting details of quantum mechanics continue, with two interesting essays at the end of the book.

Recommended for fans of the series.

Followed by The Moon's Shadow.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Reviewed: 2004-02-16

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