The last book ended with a large amount of chaos and now Ayrion finds himself trying to care for those that have been banished by the street rat tribes. These kids have no place else to go and no one to look out for them, so naturally Ayrion attempts to fill the void. But first things first, Ayrion must deal with those who betrayed him and that means the head of the Hurricane tribe needs to go. As a trained assassin, Ayrion has the skills to make someone disappear, even someone as well guarded as a tribe leader. Of course that will only make life harder for everyone as the balance of power amongst the five tribes relies on the fact that an odd number of votes in Guild meetings never results in a tie, but a missing leader means no vote for that tribe and gridlock. When matters can't be decided in the Guild meetings then tribes are essentially free to do as they will and Ayrion's outcasts are going to suffer even more. So once again the responsibility falls on Ayrion to find a solution.
After quite the series of adventures in the first book Ayrion finally arrives in Aramoor and it isn't long before he questions the wisdom of coming. He arrives quite confident about his prospects here, even though he has never been in such a large city with so many people, and he is looking forward to seeing all the wonders it has to offer. The advantages of his training as an Opakan warrior have allowed him to survive some pretty tight spots already but even his skills are no match for an overwhelming number of enemies. Not long after arriving in the city he receives a lesson in the strength of numbers after which he finds himself left for dead and robbed of all his possessions. Not only did he lose all of his money and clothes to a gang of street kids but he also lost his father's warrior ring which is something that can never be replaced. Welcome to Aramoor!
The Goblin Emperor is a wonderful book but I've liked nothing else Addison (Sarah Monette) has written so didn't know what to expect from the second book set in that world of Elves and Goblins. There are many references to Emperor, including Thara Celehar's tragic and scandalous past, without any explanations offered in Witness for the Dead so Emperor must be read first. As the title suggests Witness is about Celehar's new career as a Witness vel ama, an impartial advocate, speaking for those who have died. Celehar is a prelate of Ulis, god of the Dead and Dreams, who was blessed with the ability to communicate with souls for a short time after death. Most often it involves answering questions for the family but occasionally he is asked to represent murder victims and bring their killers to justice.
The Opakan are a race of contract killers with white eyes that live underground in the ruins of a forgotten city. They train from birth to be unrivaled warriors and it is whispered that if you ever do see the white eyes of an Opakan then that is likely the last thing you will ever see. Ayrion is a young Opakan who was born with a gift for magic as well as being a repeater, which means that he need only be taught something once for him to be able to flawlessly repeat the action. This makes him an incredible fighter and his skills should allow him to become the youngest Opakan ever to pass the warrior test, which is his goal. However, his astonishing skills also make him a target for the other young Opakans who resent his abilities and there are those with power who want to see him fail. This is a coming of age story that could easily been considered a YA book but it never insults your intelligence and it is easy to get wrapped up in discovering Ayrion's world from his limited perspective.
Nine of the Greek gods turned their power against humanity when we started to worship other gods so Zeus punished them by restricting their power and binding them to the Agon. Every seven years the Agon begins and those gods become mortal and walk the Earth for seven days so that the descendants of the greatest Greek heroes can hunt them. Any human who delivers a killing blow inherits the slain god's power and thus becomes bound to the Agon themselves. Lore is the last mortal descendant of Perseus and as a child she was determined to win glory in the Agon until her family was brutally murdered by the new Ares. She might dream of revenge but killing him means becoming hunted herself so instead she hopes to escape the Agon. Alas, the Agon isn't done with her yet. The new Ares is still hunting for her, an old friend is in desperate danger, and the most cunning of the old gods, Athena, offers Lore a deal she can't resist.
Captain Keyes is not the same man he used to be and he has emerged from his captivity placing vengeance above all else. He is also willing to pay any price to get it. None of this is good news for his crew or his allies since the enemy fleet is far larger than they ever imagined. Even so, the real threat to team Keyes is not the enemy fleet itself but rather the Advanced AI that is controlling it. The presence of the AI behind the scenes makes things more complicated for everyone caught up in this mess and that AI is quite capable of out thinking anyone fighting against it. It has been lurking in the background for quite a long time and it planned for this very war long ago when it wrote the original Ixan Prophecies. Using its incredible ability to predict the future the AI put the prophecies into play many years ago and so far they are proving to be quite accurate. Is this a case of the AI predicting the future or are the prophecies themselves a form of manipulation? Free will may be battling destiny in this war but no matter which side you believe in there is no denying that the prophecies have always fortold the destruction of humanity.
Now that the various races are picking sides in the galactic war nothing could be more appropriate than for humanity to start fighting with each other. Dark Tech can no longer be relied upon by the human fleet so that makes Captain Keyes and the Providence a force to be reckoned with. The Providence is bigger and more well armored than any of the newer ships in the human fleet, perhaps even the entire galaxy, and as a Supercarrier class it can carry multiple wings of fighters making it a battle group unto itself. With the support of the alien personnel that he has allowed on board Keyes is plans do what is "right" even if it means fighting against his own race. What makes it all the more complicated is that all of these events were predicted in the Ixan Prophecies and Keyes is starting to believe that those prophecies are more than just religious mumbo jumbo. While he hopes to use what the prophecies predict as a form of military intelligence to help him win this war, he is also concerned that the prophecies could be manipulating him and others into taking actions that will ultimately make them come true. Not good when those prophecies end with the downfall of humanity.
The Six Families made a deal with the Anvarrid invaders. In return for leaving their Fortresses untouched the psychics of the Families would become warriors to guard the Anvarrid. They would share their technology and give up their individual languages. The Families lied and rather than share technology that could be misused they hid it. Also, one promising engineer in each generation was designated the Oathbreaker and taught the language of the Fortress so they could communicate with it. Then the Horn Family discovers a man freezing to death on a glacier within sight of the abandoned Salonen Fortress. A man with no memory, probably a spy sent by a hostile empire, of pure Salonen DNA, and with an instinctive knowledge of engineering. Killing him and burying Salonen would be the safe choice. Or the Horn might risk their independence, the Treaty, and their way of life to recall the technology of the founders and bring Salonen back to life.
The last Joe Ledger series came to a close with the formation of a new agency, Rogue Team International, which replaced the Department of Military Sciences after it fell out of favor with the current administration of the US government. RTI is much smaller than the DMS, but other than new team names and new call signs, it is still playing a similar role protecting the world from the largest and most deadly threats. In theory, RTI should be able to play an even bigger role now that it has no affiliation with any country, but since Mr. Church is still running things and Joe Ledger is still the main operative, the rest of the world isn't so quick to accept RTI's professed neutrality. Nevertheless, RTI is first on the scene when leaked footage appears to show the United States testing a new bio-weapon on the inhabitants of a small North Korean island. A bio-weapon that almost instantly turns anyone it comes into contact with into a rage filled killer...
An aging starship that is the last of it's kind within a fleet of modern warships has become a sci-fi trope at this point. In the case of Supercarrier, that ship is the Providence and it is not the only trope embraced right off the bat. Captain Keyes is a veteran of the first galactic war, and loved by the public, but he is hated by the rest of the military brass and that is why he captains the Providence. He has also just been assigned a first lieutenant to serve under him as a form of punishment to go along with a demotion for not following orders. That's three tropes so far but we better stop counting or we won't get to the actual story. Humanity has ruled the galaxy since winning the first galactic war by deploying Dark Tech (lol, what could possibly go wrong there) and the other races have started to resent us for it. Dark Tech allows our modern ships to do amazing things like create their own wormholes for travel and curve ordinance after they fire it, so it is a carefully guarded secret and shared with no one. We humans view ourselves as peacekeepers and believe that we use Dark Tech for the good of everyone, but the other races don't see it that way and they have had about enough of us. This is a powder keg of a situation just waiting for a spark...