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Ashes of Candesce (Virga #5)

4.08  ·  Rating Details ·  367 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews

A world of endless sky, with no land, no gravity: this is Virga. Beginning in the seminal science fiction novel Sun of Suns, the saga of this striking world has introduced us to the people of stubborn pride and resilience who have made Virga their home; but also, always lurking beyond the walls of the world, to the mysterious threat known only as Artificial Nature. In The

Hardcover, 381 pages
Published February 14th 2012 by Tor Books
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Jul 08, 2012 Micah rated it it was amazing
Schroeder attempts to pull his series together in a meaningful way, and succeeds to a fair degree.

Frankly, given the structure of the first four books, I'm surprised he didn't expand this--the first three center heavily on Hayden, Venera and Chaison, so having a second three centered on Leal, Antaea, and Keir Chen would have given it a certain symmetry, and allowed some room to flesh out the story. But, he didn't do that, so what did we get? On the one hand, this book feels rushed, like he was t
Apr 02, 2012 Larou added it
Karl Schroeder’s Virga series, of which Ashes of Candesce is the fifth and final volume, appears to have been more popular with critics than with the general reading public. Which is a pity, because (as I have noted before) it is one of the, quite possibly the best Science Fiction series in recent years, if not ever - unparalleled in both the scope and the depth of its imagination, the originality and the thoroughness of its worldbuilding. It is also somewhat puzzling, because even with all the ...more
May 06, 2012 Andrew rated it liked it
After an onerous wait, Schroeder assembles the main characters from the first four Virga books *plus* a new protagonist, and attempts to wrap up the series in a multi-viewpoint blaze of glory. I can't say all the threads held together for me. I can't say he should have spent more pages gluing it together, either -- this series *could* have bloated out into another three volumes of resolution, and I give Schroeder credit for avoiding this.

Instead, he appears to followed the "write all the awesome
Feb 24, 2012 Morgan rated it really liked it
This is the final book in an excellent series. If you're at all charmed by steampunk but a little put off by it's lack of connection to reality, this is the series you've been waiting for.

There's an excellent summation of the series at, so I won't bother, just go look for it there.

Suffice to say this book fills the criteria that Neal Stephenson sets out for his books, they must introduce interesting ideas, but primarily they must be a cracking good tale. Full of adventure and em
Emerson Harris
Aug 30, 2012 Emerson Harris rated it liked it
Alas, the Virga cycle ends not with a bang, but with a whimper.

The first three books in the Virga cycle are incredible. Amazing. A rollicking good time in a world unlike anything you've ever encountered.

And then the fourth book comes along, which is by far the worst. It introduces a new protagonist out of nowhere, and while we do finally get some awesome glimpses of beyond Virga, there's just not enough good stuff to care. Worse, the plot picks up speed, and not in a good way - things are no lon
Booth Babcock
May 07, 2013 Booth Babcock rated it liked it
OK conclusion to a great series. The 5 Virga books kind of have it all -- inventive and creative steampunk (set in a zero gravity air bubble!); far future hard science fiction; pirates and buccaneers and broad romance...Schroeder covers a lot of ground. Doesn't finish quite as strong as the series starts, thanks to increasingly complex and convaluted storylines that only kind of wrap up, but still very enjoyable reads.
David Marshall
Feb 27, 2012 David Marshall rated it liked it
In reality, I would have preferred to give this 2.5 stars but. . . As the fifth and final book in a pentalogy that had lost its spark during the fourth volume, this just ties up the loose ends and, thankfully, ends. Shame really. Sun of Suns started us off so well back in 2006. It would have made such a good trilogy.
Jun 08, 2015 Josh rated it liked it
Shelves: space
Good end to the series. The nature of the series has some of the books starring different characters, so when they all come together in this one there are certain characters that haven't been seen in two or three books and I have trouble remembering their storylines. There are definitely some great ideas in this series.
Aug 19, 2012 Tom rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
The Big Finish!

(I assume this is the last book in this series anyway, as it wraps up all the character arcs and the meta-plot from the previous books. Certainly, though, Schroeder has created a rich enough universe to tell a lot more stories set in Virga/The Arena.)

Ashes of Candesce is the fifth and longest of the Virga books. It's long because Schroeder has set himself the task of tying together all the various plot threads of the previous books and wrapping them up in a suitably epic fashion.
May 13, 2013 Peter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leal Maspeth returns to Virga carrying a message, an offer of alliance against the forces that have been trying to infiltrate and destroy her home. But that assumes that it's not merely another trick by those same forces, as the alliance against her is claiming the same thing. Ultimately, Leal and many of the heroes of earlier in the series must make their choices and take their stands to decide the fate of Virga.

This book is intended as a conclusion to the entire series, so it has a lot to live
May 02, 2013 Jacqie rated it really liked it
This book wraps up Schroeder's Virga saga, and the whole thing is well worth reading. Starting with this book, however, might not be the way to go. All the main characters of the previous four books are featured in this one.

The best thing about the book is Virga itself. It's such a rich, amazing concept: a steampowered low-tech (yes, kind of steampunk, but not just to get in on the trend) bubble world with no gravity except what's generated artificially, with an artificial sun in the center, wh
Sep 13, 2015 Lucas rated it liked it
Shelves: sf
This would have been better if I had read it within a year or two of the 4th novel, but I might have been losing interest in the setting already. I'd forgotten most of the characters, but the intermittent reminders here were helpful.

The brief glimpses into life outside Virga were very interesting, as were additional details on life inside Virga where the details had something to do with dealing with floating in a giant bubble of air. The formal dance in the middle of the book was not, or the cha
Nov 23, 2013 Cy rated it did not like it
I really struggled through this one over the past few days and I think I'm going to have to call it quits and put an end to my attempts. It's a much too crowded book that gets too caught up in telling us events rather than characters and the charm of the unique Virga setting has long since worn off for me. The...rather fun and interesting set pieces of Virgan life have fallen to the wayside in favor of boring and uninteresting bland science fiction discussions, like technology vs personality and ...more
Dec 26, 2014 Roy rated it really liked it
Flawed but superb.

I expect the last book of a series to be the worst, but in this case it was by far the best. Several characters grew into their own and we're fun to follow. The plot was engaging and not too predictable, though a bit hard to follow (possibly not the book's fault).

Most of all, I appreciate the willingness to throw absurd genre bending elements into the story. The setting is a gem and I'd be happy to read more books set there.

The flaws? Mainly that the story doesn't always make
Mar 29, 2012 JW rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Well, it's over. Sigh, another amazing series from a new talent comes to an end.

If you read the other Virga books this one won't be a disappointment. Schroeder didn't suddenly forget how to plot, or describe, or make fascinating characters do interesting things. The climax isn't as swashbuckling as the prior Virga books, but we're dealing with larger matters in this story. It's a fitting ending to the increasingly complex world he's built.
Aug 14, 2012 netjeff rated it it was amazing
Great conclusion to the Virga series, in my top 3 favorite series. I was worried about the final book, because this is a "hard" sci-fi series (compared to "soft" sci-fi like Star Trek). My experience is that "hard" sci-fi struggles to have a satisfying conclusion -- many either pull-a-rabbit-from-the-hat (violating the "hardness"), or else the endings can be bleak. "Ashes of Candesce" finds the middle path, with no rabbits and no bleakness.
Apr 17, 2014 Brittany rated it really liked it
Shelves: sciencefiction
More philosophical than the other Virga books, I occasionally felt a little bit lost in this one. I could have stood more explanation of the thought processes and alliances. But then the pace of the book, which was quite good, would have suffered.

Still wonderful adventure novels in a wonderful world.
McCartha Sheron
May 01, 2012 McCartha Sheron rated it really liked it
I like the whole series. It combines adventure with a really interesting world. This part of the series encounter natural intelligence and looks at artificial intelligence and the threat it imposes on humanity. Thought provoking. This one moved a little slower than some of the others, but still was worthwhile.
Stephen Graham
Apr 25, 2012 Stephen Graham rated it really liked it
As with any series, this would have been better had I recently read the other volumes. Still, it's an engaging world with interesting characters, playing around with one of the recent themes of science fiction: what is consciousness and what happens to us once artificial intelligence comes into existence. Strongly recommended.
Sergio Poo
Mar 24, 2013 Sergio Poo rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi, favorites
Great conclusion to a great series. I really loved the stories that were told in Virga and I'm sad to see them come to an end. Loved the world and characters and this final chapter brings all threads together and gives readers a great conclusion to the series. I highly recommend the series to anyone who likes great world building in their Sci-fi
Jan 18, 2015 Michael rated it it was amazing
a very exciting end to the Virga series. the action felt confusing at parts but perhaps that's successful writing that I just couldn't slow down to read more carefully.
I'm glad to have finished the series and look forward to Schroeder's other books.
Angraecus Daniels
Sep 28, 2014 Angraecus Daniels rated it it was ok
Disappointing compared to the previous books in the series. Ashes felt rushed and choppy. Poor transitions from scene to scene, especially in the second half of the book, made it difficult to follow the action or the character alliances.
Jul 30, 2016 Cheryl rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
This was a great end to the series. It brought everything together very well. This was a spectacular world with many characters who were well developed. Overall, I very much enjoyed this series. This would be a good mini series for tv.
David Rossing
Sep 17, 2012 David Rossing rated it really liked it
A universe in thousands of miles bubble of air in space, humans float and live in this world. Small empires with their own sun control their space and try to control those around them. A boy helps his family with a sun for their town and so the adventure becomes.
Mouldy Squid
Apr 21, 2013 Mouldy Squid rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
Review forthcoming.

Yeah, I know. I am behind on my reviews. I hope to have the reviews posted this week.

Jan 12, 2012 Ian marked it as to-read
This better be good or I'll be pissed. The Virga series started strong but has fizzled in the last book or two.
Aug 01, 2013 Kitsuniku rated it really liked it
A really good series. This last one focused more on Kier, an being from outside of Virga. The the story came to an end with some tidying up. of the characters.
Apr 22, 2013 Dan rated it really liked it
A great wrap-up to the series. The Virga cycle is so compelling, that you almost forget how incredible the physics of this world really are -- you just become immersed!
Eric rated it liked it
Jan 26, 2015
Emollick rated it really liked it
May 15, 2014
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Karl Schroeder is an award-winning Canadian science fiction author. His novels present far-future speculations on topics such as nanotechnology, terraforming, augmented reality and interstellar travel, and have a deeply philosophical streak. One of his concepts, known as thalience, has gained some currency in the artificial intelligence and computer networking communities.
More about Karl Schroeder...

Other Books in the Series

Virga (5 books)
  • Sun of Suns (Virga, #1)
  • Queen of Candesce (Virga, #2)
  • Pirate Sun (Virga, #3)
  • The Sunless Countries (Virga, #4)

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“I know that traditionally, monsters hang around empty places for no apparent reason—and” 0 likes
“Venera spent much of that time as the queen of a buzzing hive of courier bikes, who zipped in from all six points of the compass to drop off and pick up dispatches.” 0 likes
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