The Tropic of Eternity is the third book in Tom Toner’s Amaranthine Spectrum trilogy and I can’t help but wish I had discovered Toner’s epic tale of the 147th century empire earlier and read the two book (The Promise of the Child and The Weight of the World) that preceded it, although Toner does provide a handy catch up as a prologue.
So the Amaranthine are a race of immortal humans whose empire of 23 solar systems is known as the Firmament. It includes the Old World previously known as Earth which is now home to the Melius, the giant remnants of Earthbound humanity and various talking beasts, and extends to the edge of the Prism Investiture, a ring of poverty-stricken planets inhabited by the Prism the stunted remnants of human colonists. As you would expect with such a huge universe there are many different factions vying for power and when you throw in Aaron the Long-Life an AI created by a long dead race of star-faring dinosaurs you find yourself drawn into a story with as many convoluted plotlines as Game of Thrones.
Principle amongst those in The Tropic of Eternity is the search for the abducted infant Queen Arabis as Lycaste the Melius giant forges alliances to thwart Aaron the Long-Life’s long-term revenge plan . Meanwhile in the Prism Investiture the warlord Cunctus invites the leaders of the Prisms to pick sides as the ships of the Firmament assemble for an almighty battle to determine the fate of humanity and its remnants.
A sprawling space opera packed with an enormous cast of bizarre characters and strange environments The Tropic of Eternity will appeal to anyone who enjoyed Iain M Banks’s Culture novels. There were moments when I found myself wondering what was going on and why, but that is my own fault for not having discovered this dark and fascinating universe earlier and reading the previous books in the series in their proper order first, a fault that I will certainly remedy now.
The Tropic of Eternity is published 26 July by Gollancz price £18.99