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Empress of Eternity by L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Cover Artist: Daniel Dociu
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765326645
Date: 09 November 2010 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

On a far future and very different Earth, civilizations rise and fall. During three different epochs, pivotal points are reached and the fate of each civilization rests on a few researchers. The climates of each time are at crisis points. Each period has different technology and societal norms. The story progresses mostly by cycling through each time in turn.

An event some time in our future, their past, destroys the moon. A canal splits a continent and spans over 2000 miles. The canal can withstand any attempt to destroy, mark, or attack it. The reason is explained during the novel.

In the earliest time Maertyn and Maarlyna man a weather station watching the encroaching glaciers that are impacting their world. They are trying to discover the secrets of the canal. They make some progress, but before they get too far, Maertyn is recalled to the Capital to justify his spending in the face of the budgetary crisis caused by the encroaching glaciers. He also has a secret he doesnít want to admit related to Maarlyna.

Eltyn and Faelyna are also trying to learn the secrets of the canal. Their time is facing extreme heat and desertification. They are part of a hive mind. Much of their communication is nonverbal. It was also is a bit confusing until I understood that they use exponents to emphasize words. The leaders of their civilization are trying to bring more people into the fold with less questioning. A revolt places them in direct conflict with the new leadership.

Duhyle and Helkyria are also studying the canal, notice the similarity? Their time is another facing glaciation. The problem for their world government is a faction that wants to break away and rule themselves. Of course, their ideas are at odds with the others. This is the most militaristic civilization.

Each group will find a way to use the canals. Their ultimate success is less than perfect. The path they follow is interesting and worth a read. The conclusion isnít exactly what you expect, and that in itself makes this novel worthwhile.

This is a standalone novel and thus there is no prior reading required. It is also a science fiction story, so fans of his fantasy be warned. Overall it is a pretty good story, but I still prefer his fantasy work. This isnít a knock on his SF, it is a rave for his fantasy. Empress of Eternity is a thought provoking tale that interlocks the events of three disparate groups and weaves them into one coherent story. The three points of view quickly rotate so readers get back to their favorites quickly. The short length of each chapter makes the pages seem to fly. I preferred the Maertyn chapters, partially because he travelled and gave additional glimpses of his world. The crisis points made me think about how our world would try to deal with the climatic extremes, sadly I wasnít comforted by what I envisioned.

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