Isabel (kittiwake)'s Reviews > House of Suns

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds
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's review
Dec 10, 2011

really liked it

** spoiler alert ** 'They made it for war,' the little boy told me as we stepped out of the green portal, back into the playroom. 'You know that, don't you?'
'They made what for war?'
The game . . . Palatial.' He still had something of Count Mordax about him - there was a haughty disregard in his voice, above and beyond his usual predilection for teasing. 'It was for soldiers, the same ones your family helped to clone. They went inside Palatial and got memories of being in the war, even though they'd only just been grown. By the time they went into battle, they had as much experience and knowledge as if they'd been fighting for years.'

The story of the downfall of the Gentian Line and what happened next, is told by two shatterlings of the line, Campion and Purslane. Each chapter is split into three sections, with the other section narrated by Abigail Gentian, the originator of the Gentian Line, whose family had made its fortune in providing cloned soldiers in wartime. Having grown up in an asteroid-covering version of the Winchester Mystery House, with her development delayed, so that her childhood was extended by thirty years, Abigail eventually decided to created 1000 male and female clones of herself and send them out to explore the galaxy. Six million years later the remaining shatterlings are still crisscrossing the galaxy, and the Lines have become one of the major power structures of the galaxy.

The story of the boy Abigail played Palatial with, was a bit of a red herring. To start with I though that Abigail having forgotten his name, was to do with the secret of the House of Suns, and maybe he was the founder of that line. Later in the book, when it became clear that the boy had never recovered from the mental breakdown caused by Palatial malfunctioning, I thought that maybe the boy had moved on from playing Count Mordax to playing the original Ghost Soldier, and had either been unable to switch characters again after the Ghost Soldier's soul had been magically replicated in thousands of identical Ghost Soldiers, or that his final breakdown had come when the magician destroyed the Ghost Soldiers. But now I think that Abigail's memories of feeling incredible guilt over destroying the Ghost Soldiers, were actually the only way that the shatterlings' repressed memories could seep out, so it represented their guilt and not Abigail's guilt for something that after all only happened in a game.

In some ways I liked this more than the Revelation Space books, as the main characters did not do such stupid things so I didn't find them as annoying. Although this is currently a stand-alone novel, I would certainly read another book about the Gentian Line, or one of the other Lines, if Alastair Reynolds were to write one. However, Campion and Purslane's sections were narrated in very similar style, so it was never clear to begin with which of them was telling that part of the story, but that's probably because they were clones, rather than being due to bad writing.

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Reading Progress

December 10, 2011 – Shelved
March 24, 2012 – Started Reading
March 26, 2012 –
page 82
March 28, 2012 –
page 229
44.73% "Coincidence; having googled 'galingale' while reading The Time Traveller's Guide to Medieval England, where it turned up as a spice in use in the 14th century, it turns up in the very next book I read as the name of one of the Gentian Line, who are all named after flowering plants."
April 5, 2012 –
page 229
44.73% "So Abigail's million room childhood home was a larger scale version of the Winchester Mystery House, as I suspected before it was spelled out. I'm waiting for some revelation about the childhood friend whose name she has mysteriously forgotten."
April 11, 2012 –
page 397
77.54% "I read 58 pages on the train to work this morning."
April 12, 2012 –
page 397
77.54% "Finished today. Review to follw."
April 18, 2012 –
page 512
April 30, 2012 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Isabel (kittiwake) What happened to the Andromeda galaxy, what has Hesperus forgotten and exactly how much trouble will Purslane and Campion be in when they turn up for the Gentian Line reunion over 40 years late?

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