Review: To Sleep in a Sea of Stars

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars
Fractalverse 1
By Christopher Paolini

Kira Navárez dreamed of life on new worlds.

Now she’s awakened a nightmare.

During a routine survey mission on an uncolonized planet, Kira finds an alien relic. At first she’s delighted, but elation turns to terror when the ancient dust around her begins to move.

As war erupts among the stars, Kira is launched into a galaxy-spanning odyssey of discovery and transformation. First contact isn’t at all what she imagined, and events push her to the very limits of what it means to be human.

While Kira faces her own horrors, Earth and its colonies stand upon the brink of annihilation. Now, Kira might be humanity’s greatest and final hope .

938 pages
Published by TOR
Published on September 15, 2020
Author’s webpage
Buy the book.

I purchased this book.

Almost all readers of fantasy fiction will have heard of Christopher Paolini, whether you’ve read Eragon or not. He has experienced phenomenal success has a large following of avid readers for his Inheritance Cycle books. I read Eragon, and I quite enjoyed it. It was a well-told story with familiar themes and ticked all the boxes I look for when I want to lose myself in a novel.

Alas, the other three books in the series did not fair s well for me, but that hardly seems to have made a dent in his sales.

I met Paolini back in 2011 (or 2012) when he was in Sydney, and I recall him telling me he’d just read Hyperion by Dan Simmons (a book I still need to read!), how mind-blowing it was, and that he’d started working on a space opera. Well, I guess ‘To Sleep in a Sea of Stars‘ is it.

I’ve been reading more sci-fi than fantasy of late, a lot of that on audiobook, and like my fantasy, I find that I seek a particular feel in my sci-fi.

Unfortunately, Sea of Stars is not it for me. That’s not to say it is a bad book. I am sure there are many readers out there who will love it – and if his Inheritance fans cross-over and read sci-fi they will possibly like it as well (although it is a very different tale to Eragon).

I found the development of the first contact premise to be somewhat passe. And it seemed to me that Paolini took Arthur C. Clarke’s statement “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” and ran with it for everything but the tech base that the humans in the story use. In and of itself that’s not a bad thing, but I prefer the execution of such science to be more in the vein of work by Gary Gibson and Peter F Hamilton myself and much less indistinguishable from magic.

And I did not connect with his main character at all. So that was endgame for me, and at 900 odd pages, it was at times a slog to get through – even when I stopped reading the eBook and took up the audiobook.

In a recent interview, Paolini wanted to assure his readers that this is an ‘epic’ story. And for all intents and purposes, I guess it is. He’s certainly set it up to be a series of indeterminant length. Still, I feel he tied the root plot to closely to the actions of his main character for it to feel truly epic in the way a reader might expect from his background in epic fantasy and the fact he’s set this story on a galactic stage.

So, while ‘Sea of Stars’ might work well for readers of Eragon, I am not sure how many readers of sci-fi will buy into this one.

To Sleep in a Sea of Stars is a solid space opera adventure that moves at a breakneck pace. With tons of action, space battles, aliens and advanced technology I can see it easily appealing to fans of Sanderson’s Cosmere books and even fans of Star Trek and the like.

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