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The Phoenix in Flight by Sherwood Smith and Dave Trowbridge

Published by Tor Books

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

Trouble is afoot in the glittering Panarchy, the Thousand Suns. Twenty years ago they defeated Jerrode Eusabian, Avatar of Dol, the sinister ruler of Dol'jhar. He has spent those years planning his revenge, and revenge is an artform among his people. His plan -- to capture the Panarch and slay his three sons in a single masterstroke.

It almost succeeds. Only by chance the Panarch's youngest son escapes the doom planned for him. On a lark the scapegrace Brandon nyr-Arkad decides not to attend his own Enkanion, an important coming-of-age ceremony for one of his class. Suddenly he is fleeing a planet under attack.

Where can he turn for help when his enemies have the power to crush the defenses of entire planets. He recalls an old friend, disgraced in a power game gone terribly wrong. Brandon recalls Markham had a base on a secret planetoid. But to appeal to Markham, Brandon must first get safely down.

Thus Brandon sets out on a wild adventure in the company of the Rifters, free spacers who live on the edges of respectable society. He travels through worlds that are wonderfully realized through a wealth of subtle details, each carefully thought out by the authors to build this fascinating universe. The Panarchy is a place where high technology co-exists with studied elegance, a place where you would actually want to live.

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Review posted December 15, 2000

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