Hidden Empire (Saga of the Seven Suns book 1) by Kevin J Anderson. Review by R.S. Gibson
Hidden Empire is the first volume in Kevin J Anderson's Saga of the Seven Suns. In the future, mankind has made it to the stars with the aid of the benevolent aliens of the Idirian Empire who gave man the secret of FTL travel. As mankind has expanded across the galaxy the Idirian Empire, although still powerful, has become stagnant and begun a long gentle decline. In Hidden Empire, Anderson describes mankind and their allies in bruising encounters with aliens who are far from benevolent. The Hydrogues of the Hidden Empire are a powerful race of gas giant dwellers.
Anderson is an experienced author and a fan favorite with the X-Files novel Ground Zero being voted book of the year by readers of SFX magazine. He has also produced numerous best-selling novels for the Star Wars, Dune and X-Files "franchises".
In Hidden Empire, Anderson sets out to create an epic work light on science and big on fiction. The Galaxy of the Seven Suns is certainly action-packed. In addition to the looming conflict with the Hydrogues there are several other mysteries and intrigues that will no doubt unfold throughout the series. These include a missing generational colony ship from the first days of humans' attempts to reach the stars, a vanished civilization of great power and an enigmatic "race" of robots with their own agenda, among others.
In Hidden Empire, we experience the tale through the multiple viewpoints of various human, robot and alien characters. The author really only sketches-in many of his characters, even major protagonists. While his descriptions of some planets are well thought out, original and detailed, other equally important locations are given only scant detail and suffer by comparison. There is only a superficial description of culture, either Idirian or human, and the details of star travel and future science are kept vague allowing characters to commute simply and easily between their scenes or take a month to reach their destination as the plot requires. Anderson concentrates on moving the plot along briskly and diverts the reader from some of the glaring inconsistencies in the way the powerful and intelligent cast of characters respond to the situations they find themselves thrust in to.
Personally this reviewer didnít enjoy Hidden Empire at all compared to some of the fine Space Opera that is otherwise available, such as Peter F Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy.
R.S. Gibson works by day to support himself and his growing book collection. By night he dreams of a career in comics. He is a long time fan of alternative reality fiction.