THE WILL TO BATTLE
If earlier installments of this engrossing, heady political SF epic were thrilling in some small part because it seemed near impossible for Palmer to keep such a volatile mix compelling as she went forward, by the time of this third book of four, it is increasingly clear that we are in the hands of a new master of the genre. As events bring this future (too flawed to be utopia, too promising to be dystopia) to the brink of possible disaster and ruin, the narrative is just as meaty and satisfying as before, the narrative voices just as cleverly chosen and implemented, the turns just as surprising and logical, the characters just as vivid and complex. There's a resonance and richness to the Terra Ignota series that is like almost nothing else being written today, and the finale ought to be a thing of wonder.
After hundreds of years of peace, guided by technological and social revolutions that have changed the shape and direction of mankind, humanity is again on the brink of war. This time it's not nationalism or religion, but the revelation that the system that's kept the world tranquil and prosperous for so long engaged in secret murder, and the larger questions the different Hives must grapple with now: when do the means justify the ends? what can be counted as self-preservation? And most crucially, as two sides finally form, the ultimate question: do you let the smartest person in the world design a new system from nothing, or do you try to improve what's almost worked for so long? Revolution or reform? (TOR, Dec., 352 pp., $26.99)