Tor, Nov 2003, 25.95, 384 pp.
For all practical purposes humanity is immortal, but with the Millennium ending, the Transcendence begins. Anything sentient in the solar system whether the creature is biological, mechanical, technological, or hybrid briefly merges into one super mind. These end days will judge the merit of all species to determine who will survive the Transcendence.
Phaethon the Exile has regained control of the Phoenix Exultant, but he has no time to rejoice, as the Lords of the Silent Oecumene, beings of a dead star system, hunt him for they need his ship. The invader's plan to destroy any sentient being in the Inner System, but need to use the superpower of the Phoenix Exultant to achieve this objective. As Phaethon struggles to stop his deadly foe, he wonders if he wastes his time as he has doubts about his future. He ponders whether the Lords of the Silent Oecumene, if inside the Transcendence range, will be judged and why risk his life now when he may be condemned by the final verdict?
The final tale in the Golden Age trilogy is a cerebral story that leaves the audience pondering many, perhaps too many, concepts. The author rightfully believes his fans will intelligently consider philosophical issues such as the meaning of life, when is war the right answer to a conflict, what is truly humanity, and whether it is religious or science in origin how will you and your species stand up in a life or death judgment, etc.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner