The Phoenix Legacy series isn’t so much a true series as one story broken up into separate books. In fact, there’s a good argument that the first book broke off at the wrong place – an earlier split would have suited the book better, but made the books different lengths. These days, I suppose they’d just publish one giant tome. In any case, this second book offers more of the same sweeping, romantic, space opera as the first. And that’s a good thing.
With Richard Lamb dead in this volume, I found that his sociological papers drew my interest less. They’re essentially painting the long backdrop of the series – its political history. They’re great if you you’re in the mood, but that wasn’t always true. The good news is that you can skim or skip them entirely with no great effect on the main narrative; they’re color, not content.
Alex, the protagonist, comes across as a little less developed in this volume; we simply need to take on faith that he’s disciplined and committed, and that others love him. Earlier critiques still apply – the working Bond class are more prop than true participants; this is a story about elites who know best. But the human story holds up regardless. Not perfect, but still great SF romance.