Arminzerella's Reviews > Legacy

Legacy by Greg Bear
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's review
Feb 06, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: adult-fiction, other-worlds, science-fiction, colonists, exploration, borrowed-from-the-library
Read in October, 2006

Olmy Ap Sennon is sent on a secret mission by the Hexamon to the world Lamarckia. He is to discover the whereabouts of a group of colonists who traveled there secretly several years ago – unbeknownst to anyone. They followed a strict Naderite, Lenk, into this new world and settled there. One of them was able to steal part of the tool that enabled them to leave the Way (an attachment to their large space colony) in the first place and he returned to Thistledown (the space colony). That is the first anyone knew of their defection.

Olmy arrives in the midst of some kind of skirmish. Most of the citizens of Moonrise have been killed by Brionists (followers of Brion) and their children and resources have been stolen by the same. Olmy helps the survivors to escape and his performance and leadership there convinces several of them that he’s good to have around. His cover story is that he’s been studying independently in the “silva,” as he comes to know it. He has to scramble a lot to learn about Lamarckia so that he can appear to be native.

There’s a lot that’s just way too convenient. Olmy finds a slate (and not all that many people have them) that belonged to an important person. He also discovers the password to unlock that person’s personal files. He’s able to learn much about the history of Lamarckia from these files, and his new knowledge makes him more able to pretend to be who he says he is. Still, those who trust him most have a suspicion that he’s from Thistledown. They call themselves Adventists and have been hoping that someone from the Hexamon will come and judge Lenk and return them to Thistledown.

Olmy is asked to join a scientific expedition to learn more about other silvas. He meets a woman, Shirla, on the ship and they become quite close. In fact, his relationship with her and what he learns about Lamarckia make him more sympathetic to them, and in some ways he loses sight of his mission and responsibility to the Hexamon.

The biology of the silva is really fascinating. The book could have been all about that, and much of it was. But instead of following that story to its conclusion, we’re left to wonder how the silvas finally made use of chlorophyll and the other things they learned from humankind.

There are a lot of things going on, and it seems like Greg Bear wasn’t entirely sure which story he wanted to make prominent. The disparate parts don’t fit together particularly well, and are more distracting than anything else. In the last 75-100 pages, we flash forward to Olmy’s rescue – the Hexamon is finally able to retrieve him and most of the colonists (although, about 300 elect to stay behind). Then there are explanations for everything that has happened – to tie up all of the loose ends.

I remember liking the others in this series much better. This is a prequel to Eon.

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