Tor, Apr 2003, 24.95, 320 pp.
With his exile, Phaethon knows that his life will never be the same (see THE GOLDEN AGE). Instead of the advantages he has received as a member of powerful and wealthy Radmanthus House, Phaeton will traverse the solar system on a quest to regain all he lost starting with his memory.
However, though humans, other strange life forms, and sentient machines might want to offer their help, anyone who actually assists the exile risks banishment too. Still some intelligent beings refuse to allow a threat to stop their assistance to Phaethon. The Old Woman of the Sea whose mind traverses all sea creatures and the surviving residue of a mass mind do not fear exile and aid the expatriate. Soon Phaethon concludes that essences from another star system plan to eradicate him and probably his people beginning with his logging onto the Mentality, but still he believes he must do all he can to save the stagnating society that he was once the Prime.
THE PHOENIX EXULTANT, Volume Two of The Golden Age trilogy, displays John C. Wright's skills in species building so that the reader believes in the varying, several weird, races that populate his galaxy. The story line is exciting as the hero goes on a quest, but also suffers to a minor degree from the genre's bane, middle speculative fiction syndrome (better known as MFSF). New readers will enjoy the tale, but gain much more from reading the first novel before perusing this delightful book for better understanding.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner