It’s been a long time coming, both this book and my review of it. I originally received my hardbound copy many weeks ago, but haven’t had time to put a serious effort into finishing it until now.
It’s a first effort for Tony Gonzales, a man who I’ve had the great fortune of meeting at both of the Fanfests I’ve attended, and one of the rare people in the world that I would classify as a friend even after only a handful of meetings. He’s no stranger to the EVE backstory though, and this is entirely evident throughout the novel.
The Empyrean Age might intially seem to be a daunting novel for someone who’s not an EVE player, but I’d like to put it to rest right up front that this is not the case. It may help to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the game’s story, but any pertinent details are given in the book, enough that even someone with no experience in EVE will be able to follow more than easily. That’s no small feat, and here it’s executed nicely.
The story follows a lot of characters, but probably most central to the narrative is that of an Amarrian who is salvaged from the wreckage of his ship with no memory of who he is or his past. That might sound intially cliche, but works to the reader’s service as it also serves as a central point from which we learn details of the universe the story takes place in.
The larger scope of the story involves characters from all four of the factions in the EVE cluster, as their leaders and people try to work towards their own goals and ambitions. Outside influences are orchestrating events which rapidly spiral out of control, and could lead to all out war between the factions. It’s pulled off well overall, and ties in extremely well with events from the game leading up to the those in the book, and subsequent fiction that has appeared on the EVE website.
The book is definitely not for kids, with a lot of very adult concepts and events happening in the story. There’s also a fair share of heavy political intrigue, which provides an excellent balance to the smaller scale events and the larger scale results. It’s hard not to get caught up in the story, especially as the climax nears and it shifts between all the various facets of the plot.
I only had one real complaint with the story itself. Myself personally, I like to have an element of surprise to the outcome of things in a book such as this, and while that is largely the case there are several instances where the reader is plainly told how something is going to play out.
It’s almost like one of those moments in movies where the good guys all stand around a table and lay out their plans for the viewer, which essentially unfold as the final half our of the film. It’s not quite so obvious in The Empyrean Age, but it’s enough to crank the tension down a notch when you know what’s going to happen.
In the end this is a spectacular first effort by Mr. Gonzales, and its accessibility for all readers means that regular sci-fi buffs will find a lot to like here. No doubt this will be a gateway to the game itself for a lot of people.
It’s earned a spot on my bookshelf, but now it looks all lonely. I can’t wait for more.