After the events of Hellhole Awakening, the people of Hellhole and the shadow-Xayans scramble to rally against the threat from the still-living rogue Xayans. Back on Sonjeera, the Monarchy is in an uproar after their surprising defeat and the breakaway of the Deep Zone planets. The dowager Queen decides to go to Hellhole on a diplomatic mission, hoping to keep her power. But after touring Hellhole, Queen Michella is shaken, and begins to realize that she can never have the old Monarchy back.
Before the Queen can return to Sonjeera, she’s captured by the rogue Xayans and learns the reason for their attack: the orthodox Xayans had developed their minds to the point where they could evolve and, in so doing, trigger another Big Bang, wiping out everything.
The rogue Xayans thought they succeeded in stopping the ascension, but the orthodox Xayans on Hellhole are nearly ready. Now, twenty-two huge asteroids from the outer reaches of the solar system are bearing towards Hellhole, summoned by the rogue sect as a last resort. Can all these lives and the planet itself be saved?
Well I can quite honestly say this book is a one serious roller-coaster of a ride. I finished it and then had to spend some time just staring into space absorbing it. Several hours after putting it down, I’m still not even sure what to do with myself.
There is so much about this book that is great with moments of sheer genius that push it beyond great and into amazing. The resolution for Hellhole’s fate was inspired and made so much sense. The moments before that were just so intense that I was literally holding my breath.
The characters are just superb; General Tiber Adolphus and Sophie Vence are the two that I have adored all the way through this series and my heart was in my mouth several times, hoping that they would stay free just that little bit longer to do what was needed for the galaxy. It’s also rare to come across characters that are truly detestable and despicable yet also be able to see how they came to power. The clever writing in Inferno also allows some of those that were actually quite contemptible to redeem themselves and I found myself rooting for a few of them in the end.
The plot is clever with things happening on so many fronts but it’s never confusing; it’s always clear what is going on but as each event takes place it produces a distinct emotional reaction. I think I say this in both the other reviews too but it bears repeating – the writing is just so clean, straight and to the point but still descriptive enough to clearly envision people and planets. No padding, no flowery language, the prose just flows extremely well.
The pace throughout was full on and really well timed to lure you in and keep you there. I couldn’t put it down because I needed to know what happened next at every stage. When the answers finally came I was truly shocked; by Ala’ru and the solution, and by the number of people who count lives as others would count grains of rice and treat them as just as importantly.
This is not a happy ever after book. The cost of lives is just too high, for both people and places we’d grown to love. Those people who finally stood up and did the right thing, who said no when the final demands came caused the biggest reaction in me. I cried for those lost and those saved and I even cheered for those who got what they finally so very clearly deserved.
I can only applaud Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert on the conclusion of a truly epic series.