War In Heaven

David Zindell, 1998, Sci-fi

War in Heaven, the sequel to The Wild, is both the most rewarding and the most annoying of Zindell's books. Danlo, son of Mallory Ringess, has completed a dangerous quest to find the Architects of the Old Church and get them to agree to stop artificially causing supernovas.

However, his problems are just beginning. The events of The Wild took place over 5 years, so as Danlo returns to Neverness, he sees many changes in the city, few of them for the better. The religion that Bardo started in The Broken God has become insanely popular, and those who don't follow it are scorned. Hanuman is the real power in the city, and is building a gigantic computer that employs forbidden technology in near-Neverness orbit. He says the computer will be used for the benefit of all citizens. Yeah. Right.

Hanuman's actions lead to war, of course. Danlo's compatriots attack Hanuman's forces, and Danlo is caught in the middle. After a saboteur destroys Neverness's main source of food with a hydrogen bomb, everyone in the city begins to suffer. Zindell draws the problems of living in a blockaded war zone very well, and it's easy to feel sympathetic towards Danlo, his friends, and his family as they go hungry. It's even easy to feel for Danlo as he breaks his vow to never harm another living animal in order to hunt seal and bear to feed his friends.

Heck, even Danlo's preposterous master plan to end the war sings. Danlo confronts the bad guys, gets ambushed and left for dead, then after an enormous amount of suffering, he gets his act together and pounds the bad guys like they were cheap veal. It's all very satisfying if you can suspend disbelief.

Unfortunately, the book has problems after the bad guys are defeated and Danlo's managed to stop the war. Clichés abound, and the falling action and resolution are far too tidy. Zindell's writing style may also annoy some people, and the stylistic badness is at its worst in this book. Anyway, despite the flaws, this book brings the series started in Neverness to an end in a way that thunders like the last movement of the 1812 Overture. It's not to everyone's taste, but In My Humble Opinion, the whole series is worth reading.