The Snow Queen, World's End, and The Summer Queen by Joan D. Vinge

together form a large, complex, and on the whole very satisfying story. The story takes place in a Hegemony of eight human-inhabited worlds, a small part of what used to be a galactic empire. One of these planets rediscovered a limited form of faster-than-light travel a few centuries back, and has since maintained an economic dominance over the several other worlds within reach. One in particular, Tiamat, is an object of special concern to its government; the Hegemony has been very careful to keep its people from learning too much of science and technology, or becoming semi-independent. Tiamat is the only source of a drug, the 'water of life,' which keeps humans from aging.... I shan't say much more in specifics. Suffice it to say that the plot is wonderfully complex, and there are lots of well-drawn characters (and a few not so well-drawn, but that's to be expected when there are so many).

The style ranges from competent to lyrical, with occasional weak spots (especially when the archaic "thou" is used to represent the intimate pronoun in one of the languages; Vinge apparently does not know when to use "thou" and when to use "thee", and neglects the corresponding verb forms, so it sounds very jarring to someone who knows the usage. I had to recast each such sentence in my mind before I could go on.)

My only other criticism is that in the early part of The Summer Queen, when the number of separate story threads reaches its peak, she lets some threads drop for far too long; when they become important again later on, the newer characters aren't well enough developed for us to really care about what happens to them. Other than that... beautiful. (12/1996)

Only the first book appears to be in print now (2/2003), but you can search for the others on

Search on

To the Book Reviews page.
To my home page.
Email me: Jim Henry.

Get a GoStats hit counter