“Light of Impossible Stars” is a deeply satisfying read that does something very rare: it ends a trilogy in a way that not only doesn’t disappoint but excites and surprises.
Like it’s predecessors, it was a fast-paced, page-turning, epic science fiction story, crammed with original ideas and strong world-building, yet what kept me reading were the characters in the book and the empathy and humour of the writing.
All of the books have followed multiple storylines that slowly reveal the big picture. The strength of the characterisation, especially in this final book, keeps those storylines intimate and relevant.
I’d say it kept the book human but some of the main characters are not human and part of the strength of the book comes from how clearly their thoughts and hopes are articulated,
Gareth Powell is very good at letting his characters be themselves, without judgement or apology, whether the character is a genocidal psychopathic poet, a warship who has grown a conscience and resigned her commission, a non-human engineer who believes in work and rest and the world tree, a young woman trying to discover who or what she is or an ex-military officer looking for redemption through service.
I like the fact that, in this world, actions have consequences: not everyone survives, those that do survive are often damaged and neither the pain nor the occasional love is glossed over. I like that some characters fail to learn and are doomed to repeat their mistakes while others grow, develop and find new mistakes to make and some just get by day to day as best they can.
I admire the truly epic scale of the plot and the depth of the world-building and that, despite how strong the plot and SF ideas are, they never push the characters out of the way.
Now that I’ve read all three books, I want to go back and read them again, so that I can take in the grandeur of the big picture and spend more time with characters I’ve grown to know well.
Finally, I have to say that I am, as I’m sure I’m supposed to be, deeply attached to Trouble Dog and I hope to hear more of what happens to her now the trilogy is over.
“Light Of Impossible Stars” works very well as an audiobook with different narrators presenting chapters written from the point of view of the main characters. Click on the SoundCloud link below to hear a sample.