Empress of the Sun – Everness #3 – Ian McDonald
World-hopping, high-action adventure starring a smart boy with computer skills and a tough girl who pilots a blimp
The airship Everness makes a Heisenberg Jump to an alternate Earth unlike any her crew has ever seen. Everett, Sen, and the crew find themselves above a plain that goes on forever in every direction without any horizon. There they find an Alderson Disc, an astronomical megastructure of incredibly strong material reaching from the orbit of Mercury to the orbit of Jupiter.
Then they meet the Jiju, the dominant species on a plane where the dinosaurs didn’t die out. They evolved, diversified, and have a twenty-five million year technology head-start on humanity. War between their kingdoms is inevitable, total and terrible.
Everness has jumped right into the midst of a faction fight between rival nations, the Fabreen and Dityu empires. The airship is attacked, but then defended by the forces of the Fabreen, who offers the Everness crew protection. But what is the true motive behind Empress Aswiu’s aid? What is her price?
The crew of the Everness is divided in a very alien world, a world fast approaching the point of apocalypse.
We’ve been to some strange, yet slightly familiar places in the Everness series before. We’ve seen an Earh where everything runs on electricity and airships are an important means of transport. We’ve been to an Earth with alien intelligence on the moon and an Earth infested with an all devouring nano technology. But the place Everett takes the crew of the Everness next beats everything. While trying to find Everett’s dad they get stuck in an exotic forest with strange creatures. Everett soon thinks there is something truly weird about the place, especially when he sees the sun doesn’t follow the same path as it does on all of the other Earth’s he’s visited so far.
The crew of the Everness is confronted with the Jiju, a species millennia older than human beings. They are what would have happened when the dinosaurs hadn’t been wiped out, but had the chance to evolve. They have no idea what to expect from these creatures that learn their language and voice timbre in mere seconds. As a reader we have reason to be scared for our favourite airship crew, because for the first time ever Charlotte Villiers shows some uncertainty and fear when she finds out where the Everness has gone next. Are these Jiju such a threat?
‘Empress of the Sun’ was another exhilarating ride in the Everness Series. I loved it just as much as the previous two books, I might even love it a little more. I might even go as far as saying that I think this one is the best book of the three.
Sen keeps stealing more little pieces of my heart in every book. In this one I enjoyed her character immensely. In my opinion, Sen shows a lot of growth. She still has her sassy ways, but she is such a strong person and that really shows in this book. During their adventure on the plane inhabited by the Jiju she has to face some real tough decisions and overcome fears to save the people she loves. And she deals with it splendidly. Everett again has to face equally daunting decision, but Everett is still Everett, so he overthinks every choice he makes and doubts the roads he chose to take.
I also enjoyed finding out more about Everett M who is currently staying on Earth 10 in Everett’s place. Especially his interaction with Ryun was great to read about. Everett M goes through a transformation of his own during ‘Empress of the Sun’ and I liked how he turned out at the end of it. Everett M is still recognizable as Everett, but has some different traits, that Ryun recognizes as well. I think this is a great writing accomplishment from the author, making a character that is basically the same and gives that feeling of familiarity, but make that character just different enough to see them as separate, distinguishable people.
The writing is fantastic, as I’ve come to expect after the last two books. All of McDonalds’ books read so easily and are real pageturners. I’m always surprised how many pages I’ve read without even realizing it, after I close the book. This one wasn’t any different, the story just sucks you in.
Another thing that I thought was great about this book is the entire new world and civilization the author has come up with again and how he used it in his story. I’m very impressed with how he can keep the story interesting book after book and coming up with new elements that are still believable and not tedious.
I was a bit doubtful if there was a future for the Everness series after this book. I thought that every possible road the author could have taken was already explored in all the three books. But then the ending came and I was proven wrong. I can’t wait to find out what that was all about!