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3.70  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,100 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews
Angelmass, a black hole deep in space, emits "angels," small particles that render humans calm, reasonable, and virtually incapable of lying. The Empyrean, human colonies in the far reaches of the galaxy, has discovered the angels and the power they wield. All members of Empyrean government must carry an angel.

The Earth-based Empire, the Pax, view the angels as an alien pl
Paperback, 531 pages
Published September 16th 2002 by Tor Science Fiction (first published September 1st 2001)
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Old Man's War by John ScalziStarship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinPandora's Star by Peter F. HamiltonDune by Frank HerbertLeviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey
Excellent Space Opera
214th out of 385 books — 2,096 voters
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50th out of 120 books — 28 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,622)
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Dirk Grobbelaar
Apr 17, 2013 Dirk Grobbelaar rated it really liked it
There are any number of things not quite right with this book. The characters aren't as fully fleshed out as they could be. The science bits are a bit odd at times. The 'interstellar' politics are laughably simple. Why then, is it such a blast to read? Well, the pacing is flawless. Despite the fact that the novel isn't saturated with action or adventure scenes it reads surprisingly fast for a novel exceeding 500 pages. That, in itself, is an accomplishment. Also, there is a rather fascinating my ...more
Aug 06, 2009 Ron rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Five may be a gift, but with so much sloppy SF being written these days , Zahn deserved the extra star.

A thoroughly satisfying hard science fiction tale, of the kind rarely found now (with all the market attention focused on fantasy).

Don't let Zahn's Star Wars credits scare you away. Freed from the constants of fan fiction, Zahn shows himself fully capable of a rich, nuanced story with plenty of science as well as human interest. (Once you accept the idea of a "tiny" black hole, you're home free
An Odd1
May 26, 2013 An Odd1 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
This edition includes six-page preview of Manta's Gift, another whirring exoskeleton. Thankfully other Zahn work has more than exoskeletons. A link to the text expired; luckily someone said "Like", so time to revise review. Google-books helps preview and find quotes or facts, easier than re-reading paper, until I learn how to highlight on my Kobo.

I cheered for Captain Lleshi, trying to save his Pax armada, crew, a
David Lawson
Aug 22, 2010 David Lawson rated it it was ok
This book had a fairly good storyline, but I think it was poorly written. At times, the writing was fairly simple to understand (sometimes enough for a little kid to follow) which wouln't be bad if the writing was consistently simple. At other times the writing was very difficult to understand, was filled with black hole theory (I'm was never that good at physics and can't remember most of it), and didn't have any type of glossary or anything to help the reader understand his imaginary spaceship ...more
Jun 11, 2015 John rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi, scifi-fantasy
2012 Grade A-.

Although the book has 560 physical pages, the story is only 531 pages. The rest is mostly a preview to another book. Quite interesting, good characters and plot, both of which, as a reader, I cared about. Reads easily and can be read in short segments, for example 30-60 minutes. I had no problem putting it down when necessary and picking it up later, at least until page 295 when the action starts. But it was good enough that I never let a day pass without reading it. I did speed r
Apr 17, 2008 David rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
I generally enjoy Zahn's novels, and this one is no exception. It has stock but well crafted characters and a plot that keeps things moving along. A good "rainy weekend" read that will not unduly stress ones vocabulary or philosophical capacity, despite the jacket blurb's claim that it is a serious science fiction novel disguised as space opera. I'm not sure what "serious science fiction" is, but "space opera" is a good description.
James Bell
Sep 11, 2014 James Bell rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 19, 2014 Robert rated it it was amazing
It's an excellent read! WONDERFUL character development and intense sci-fi mechanics and theory!
Alex Jones
Aug 14, 2014 Alex Jones rated it really liked it
Really enjoyable, this is one of those science fiction book that just sets up a premise and explores it, speculative fiction, probably being the term for it. A dark hole is emitting these unexplained particles called Angels which cause people to behave 'morally well'. The vast majority of the novel is then spent looking at what these Angels they are and what effect they have through three eyes: a scientist researcher who is a spy for a nearby system wanting to invade; a con-woman on the run from ...more
Christopher Smith
Feb 01, 2011 Christopher Smith rated it liked it
Angelmass is not without its defects. The universe in which it is set is fairly uncreative, although Zahn manages to come up with some interesting hyperspace technologies and a few interesting political dynamics. The premise is interesting and thought-provoking, but frankly not very plausible. The book is a little too long, a little too repetitive, and a little too light on action. It is also scientific-jargon-heavy, so stay away if that bothers you. But for all that, it still manages to be an e ...more
Dec 05, 2011 Amy rated it it was amazing
Loved this story, even if the science is dubious. Sub-atomic particles that make people truthful? Others that are just evil? Okay...right...but still a great story. Warring empires of humans. One character is a former street kid/con artist. Another is a infiltrator from the Earth-based Pax, sent to spy on the Empyreum's use of the "angel" particles to insure honesty and ethical behavior from public servants. Kosta is a nerdy academic, woefully unqualified for the job. But he is still able to bef ...more
Kristin Lundgren
Aug 17, 2012 Kristin Lundgren rated it it was amazing
This is a really different, but solidly written SF book - one of the best I've read recently. Characters you care about. Plots within plots, and some really unique ideas, but at the heart, a classic SF story. The Pax rules the known galaxies. An earth born initiative, they rule through a government that is increasingly being controlled by adjutors, glorified accountants/bean counters who want to squeeze every last dime out of everything they do, and try and make sure than all projects are cost-e ...more
Kay Iscah
Apr 01, 2013 Kay Iscah rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 02, 2010 Punk rated it liked it
SF. For decades, the senators of the Empyrean colonies have been given angels, rare subatomic particles captured from a quantum black hole. The angels are supposed to prevent the bearer from acting in bad will, but what are they really? And are they as harmless as they appear? We shall answer these questions with SCIENCE.

On balance, this is a solidly mediocre book. It starts out boring, but slowly gets more and more interesting. The characters are medium. You know, not awesome, not flat; medium.
Antonin Januska
Jun 03, 2013 Antonin Januska rated it really liked it
I'd rate Angelmass lower than rest of Zahn's work; however, it's an amazing book nevertheless. Angelmass takes you through 500 pages as if it were a 100 because of its superb pacing, likeable characters, and an interesting plot.

The book left me wanting to know MORE about that specific world and definitely how the entire situation came to be and what happens in the future.

Angelmass left out a good portion of detailed backstory at the beginning. You learn bits and pieces as you go. This method is
Aug 02, 2016 Loki rated it really liked it
Stand alone scifi from Zahn, and just as good as his better known Star Wars work. Well-drawn characters with believable motivations, a twisty plot that delivers both intrigue and action, and a sly commentary on a certain Middle Eastern quagmire. Would gladly read a sequel.
D.M. Dutcher
May 08, 2011 D.M. Dutcher rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Kosta is an academic sent into a spy mission hoping to uncover the mystery of angels-small atomic particles which influence the behavior of a federation of planets, and what the hyper-capitalist Pax worry is an alien invasion. The angels come from a massive black hole called angelmass, and it draws Kosta and others, such as a con artist, a politician suspicious of angel influence, a pair of angel-gathering pilots, and others as the mystery of what they are deepens.

Zahn writes good, non-ideologi
Sep 03, 2015 Amber rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
A decent sci fi novel, heavy on the physics but at least Zahn doesn't seem to assume we'll all know it already so the characters do some explaining. I found it interesting enough but getting nearer the end I wished I was just finished already. Some political intrigue, some fun-to-watch conning/pranking/trickery, a lot of hanging around and talking about scientific theory.
Oct 24, 2015 Nuranar rated it really liked it
It took a long time to get into, and there is a lot of mystery. Eventually it gets really going, and then just speeds up from there. Definitely a rewarding read.
Apr 01, 2011 Diana rated it liked it
Fitting neatly into the genre fiction of starships and far-flung colonized worlds, Angelmass outlines a decent, if not entirely thrilling story of a research scientist posing as a spy, a teenage con-artist, and the political machinations of two empires. As a scientist myself I probably found the research angle the most compelling, followed closely by the young girl's trials, although the characters themselves seemed relatively simple and rather transparent. The pages spent with the political and ...more
Станислав Атанасов
След "Кобрите" се бях отказал от Зан. Не можех да разбера защо е толкова популярен и награждаван... После хванах Ангелиада и нещата ми се изясниха. Прекрасно написана, увлекателна... Забележителна.
Jun 29, 2007 Jon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Serious scifi fans
Zahn is an excellent writer, and manages a good overall balance of plot and description. I took one star away from him because I thought several of his sub-characters weren't as fully fleshed-out as they could have been--especially since they're so critical in the closing chapters. I also thought his idea of WARNING: SPOILER! a black hole as a "conscious" being was a little far-fetched for a science fiction novel, as was his use of what essentially amount to atoms of "good" and "evil". Such conc ...more
Feb 14, 2009 Foomy rated it really liked it
I loved it, but it gets pretty technical in places. One of the main characters has what I assume is the equivalent to three PhD's, and a part of his role in the book is to do research on a particle, so I suppose "technical" is to be expected, but that still might turn some readers off.

Still, the premise is interesting and fairly fresh, the characters are fun to follow, the twists are unexpected, and it's a standalone novel, so it's worth reading without requiring a huge commitment from the audie
Cyn Mcdonald
Jun 07, 2016 Cyn Mcdonald rated it liked it
Dense but enjoyable.
Dec 03, 2015 Olive rated it liked it
First there's Jereko Kosta, the Pax spy. Then there's Chandris Lalasha, the thief from Uhuru. Don't forget Hanan and Ornina Daviee, the owners of the Gazelle hunter ship. And, of course, there are the angels of angelmass.

Angels are great. They make everyone feel good all the time. Until.......

This is a great novel about life on another planet and about the angels and how they help, or do they?

Enjoy the adventures, the findings, the fun, and the love. Must check this out.
Jul 05, 2011 K rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Interesting, but strangely short on real science. How could a society with enough technology to put a space station in orbit around a black hole be in need of a few terawatts of energy? The book depends heavily on "revolutionary" scientific and philosophic arguments with quite gaping holes. Unfortunately, the characters swallow every theory that's thrown their way in this pretentious work, leaving the reader unenlightened and slightly exasperated at its end.
Jul 17, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
I LOVE THIS BOOK. It's an amazingly creative story with a fantastic, thought provoking moral to it, which I can't tell you because it would ruin the early part of the book. I highly recommend the book, though you should skip the section when Chandris goes back (the second time) to's a bit racy. And when Trilling shows up at the ship, you know what's gonna happen, so if you want to skip that violence too, you probably won't miss much of the story in doing so.
Jan 02, 2008 Kay rated it it was ok
Too much science for me. The plot didn't move fast enough. The two main characters were both interesting, but they did too much thinking. Plus, I kept waiting for them to hook up, but the only hook up that ocurred was at the very end of the book and it was basically just a "hey, I think I might like you." Very anticlamatic.

If you like science stuff, though, you'd probably like this book. I prefer character oriented books, not science oriented ones.
Jul 05, 2011 Wendy rated it really liked it
This was a combo sci-fi and mystery novel. I liked the characters. The plot moved along. No sex and very little swearing. The ending was rather abrupt and a little bit too tidy. And not everything was answered. Oh, and the book was about a scientist sent to spy on a planet where the people were wearing "angels", a particle from space that may or may not be an alien that is controlling them.
Dec 22, 2010 Josh rated it really liked it
Quite an interesting book. Zahn never disappoints. A culture that harvests 'angels', a molecule that seems to produce good behavior from people near it, is such a novel concept within a book. The struggle to know if the effect is controlling people or merely enhancing who they causes the books character and the reader to question the morality of using such devices if they were available.
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Timothy Zahn attended Michigan State University, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in physics in 1973. He then moved to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and achieved an M.S. degree in physics in 1975. While he was pursuing a doctorate in physics, his adviser became ill and died. Zahn never completed the doctorate. In 1975 he had begun writing science fiction as a hobby, and he bec ...more
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