Review by Riley
About Spear of Light
When the post-human Next suddenly re-appear in a solar system that banished them, humans are threatened. Their reactions vary from disgust and anger to yearning to live forever like the powerful Next, who are casually building a new city out of starships in the heart of the re-wilded planet Lym. The first families of Lym must deal with being invaded while they grapple with their own inner fears.
Ranger Charlie Windar is desperate to save his beloved planet. The Next are building strange cities he never imagined, and other humans who want to destroy the Next are his worst enemies.
Ambassador Nona Hall strives to forge links between the powerful station she’s from, The Diamond Deep, and the people of Lym. The formidable merchant Gunnar Ellensson appears to be up to no good, and as usual his motivations are suspect. Why is he sending ships to Lym, and what does he intend to do with them when he arrives?
The Shining Revolution threatens to undo everything by attacking the Next on Lym, and their desire to eradicate the post-humans is greater than their desire to save humanity’s home. It is entirely possible that they will draw the wrath of the Next onto all of humanity.
In the meantime, the Next’s motives remain inscrutable. Why are they here at all? What do they want? Why are they interested in the ancient past of a planet that has been ravaged and rebuilt at least once?
Review of Spear of Light
First, some background. Many humans refer to the Next as soul bots. What they are is a highly evolved community of complex intelligent beings. I actually grew to admire the Next when I read Edge of Dark. They evolved from robots created by humans but were eventually forced out into space because they were feared by their creators. Well, they are back and now have a distinct tactical advantage over humans. But there is a deal, worked out between the Next and representatives of both the planet Lym and the Diamond Deep space station/community. Those representatives, Charlie, the planet saver,and Nona the diplomat will have important roles in Spear of Light.
In Spear of Light, the focus is on the human reaction to the Next’s occupation of the planet Lym. They don’t occupy all of the planet, just carefully chosen territories. Why are they even on Lym? Can they be trusted? Why should the people of Lym just give in to them? What happens to human communities outside of Lym? And what, if anything, can the highly advanced Next do for humans? Questions lead to speculation which leads to opinions and taking sides. Sides that disagree as to how to handle the Next.
Despite having not the faintest clue about what the Next want on Lym, the some residents are determined to fight them. And to fight anyone that does not want to fight the Next. Other residents want to honor the agreement with the Next, just as the Next have also honored the agreement. There is a third, space-based contingent, that just wants to wipe out all soul bots. These human reactions are what makes the story ‘real’ to this human. Ignorance and fear are as motivating as reason and respect.
Putting the broader picture aside, a couple of characters stand out. Yi is one of the four humans-turned-Next that played a role in the current state of affairs between humans and Next. Yi and his family were Next representatives because they were closer to human. In Spear of Light, Yi embraces becoming Next and yearns to evolve further and know more. Yi seems to be an outlier in typical scifi where being forced to become a robot should be terrifying and abhorrent to humans. Yet, here is Yi, eager stretch into his new existence. He does this without forgetting what it means to be human. This depiction of Yi’s transformation is refreshing and hopeful.
Charlie Windar, the ranger has, perhaps, the most substantial human role in Spear of Light. He has always worked to restore the natural world of Lym, keeping the wilds safe from humans. He loves Lym and fears what the Next will do to his planet. Yet, as a broker to the current arrangement, Charlie has done everything he can imagine to save Lym from being completely taken over by the Next. Now he faces his friends and neighbors on Lym who believe Charlie is a betrayer because he gave in to the Next. Charlie’s struggle is the most poignant in Spear of Light and absolutely pulled at my heart. And because I am a romantic at heart, Charlie’s and Nona’s continuing romance, what they do for each other and how they even manage to stay together is an inspiring counterpoint to the struggles around them.
Without spoiling anything, I have to say that I did not see the ending coming at all. While I thought the Next’s motives were suspect, due to the fact that they were not at all willing to talk about them, when I found what they were up to I was surprised. And I do like surprises.
Spear of Light is the awesome conclusion to The Glittering Edge duology. Book 1, Edge of Dark, was such an amazing story that I had a hard time believing it could be matched. Maybe that is why I let 7 months elapse between books, even though I had book two in hand. Spear of Light proved that, as a whole, The Glittering Edge duology is an insightful observation of humankind, filled with hope, hard hitting reality and a sense of humanity’s place in the future universe.
NOTE: If you haven’t read Edge of Dark, I highly recommend starting there. If you are interested, here is my review of Edge of Dark.
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