Pros: Gorgeous web of scheming heavily grounded in SF concepts; plenty of new plot developments
Cons: Repetitive information; some weak characters
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Spoiler warning: If you haven’t read book one of S. Andrew Swann’s Apotheosis series yet (Prophets), you might want to wait to read this review; it’s impossible to avoid giving away at least some of the developments from the previous book.
Adam—once an AI, now something much more powerful—plans to subjugate the known worlds. The surviving remnants of the crew of the Eclipse want to do what they can to stop him, but what can they do? He has agents everywhere. He’s converting entire populations of planets. He’s been planning his attacks for centuries.
Once again the lawless planet of Bakunin comes into play. Father Mallory and the others must somehow escape back to their starting point, a place that’s unlikely to be at the top of Adam’s target list. Once they get there, however, what will they do to prepare for his arrival? How does one stop a being so powerful that it might as well be a god?
S. Andrew Swann’s Heretics picks up where Prophets left off, so you won’t have to wait long to find out what happened to our erstwhile mercenaries, scientists and spies. The characters gain a bit more depth in this volume, thus adding to my list of characters that intrigue me and whose fates I care about. There are also fewer blocks of static information, although there’s still a degree of over-repetitiveness in the way information is conveyed.
The main attraction is an even greater degree of what we saw in Prophets: i.e. an incredible knot of tangled webbing meticulously played out through far-flung actions and devastating consequences. Science fiction concepts are integral to the plot developments rather than tacked-on window dressing. The religious and philosophical questions intermix freely with the science fiction in rather fascinating ways, providing plenty to think about. And just when you think you know what’s going on or what will happen next, there’s always something new to keep you glued to the pages. Certainly I can’t wait to start in on the final book in the series (Messiah).