Tor, May 2003, 17.95, 671 pp.
The Winter clan's century and a half reign over Tiamat is ended and now its Summer's time to rule with Moon as the leader. Moon, vowing a different economic path through technology, has ended the harvesting of the Mers whose blood was the cash crop sellable commodity, providing off world longevity to clients. The Hegemony also has left the planet.
Moon's former lover, Gundhalinu, attempts to save the Hegemony by trying to gain control over stardrive plasma spilled from a wrecked Old Empire ship. If he succeeds, faster-than-light travel will become available as it once was and Tiamat will no longer suffer periods of isolation. However, the Brotherhood seeks the immortality elixir allegedly found only on Tiamat while Moon clashes with opponents over the fate of the Mers, as these intelligent beings are the source of the elixir. She also must keep safe the ancient computer hidden under the planet's prime city that links the galaxy's clairvoyants. If the Hegemony obtain either the people of Tiamat will face endless winter, but if the Hegemony gain both the people of the galaxy will face eternal winter.
Surprisingly the sequel to THE SNOW QUEEN is a tighter, albeit still very complicated, planetary thriller. The story line is loaded with many concepts though some get shortchanged because of the abundance. The key charcaters are fully developed (critical in this novel) so that the audience appreciates Moon's troubles and her former lover's endeavor. Joan D. Vinge provides readers with a strong galaxy tale that shows why she was nominated for a Hugo for this work (and won with the first story).
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner