Being a Lyctor isn't at all what Harrow expected and Ascension has brought her nothing but grief. The Emperor immediately arranges for some of the resurrected, who have been in stasis for ten thousand years, to be transported to the Ninth, her former House. However, as a Lyctor Harrow has little time to brood over their fate because she must begin preparing to join the other Lyctors in battle against the great Resurrection Beasts. Each beast started as the soul of a planet that was altered by that planet's Resurrection and now Harrow and Ianthe, the other new Lyctor, have only a year to become fully functional or they will likely die when the next Beast is engaged. Of course, that is assuming the other Lyctors don't kill Harrow first.
Because the marketing hype for Gideon appeals more to millennials it led me to avoid this book until I was desperate for something new. The publisher's blurb also gives the impression of yet another teen competition plot albeit with lesbian necromancers and dirty magazines this time. The first chapter does in fact mention dirty magazines, and there are in fact necromancers, but ignore the rest as the Post-Resurrection Empire is a unique and strange setting. The Undying Emperor, father of the resurrection, has spent the last ten thousand years fighting a terrible cosmic threat with the aid of his immortal Lyctors. For the first time he has issued an invitation to the eight noble houses to send their best necromancer, along with their cavalier, to attempt Ascension and become Lyctors to replace the fallen. The brilliant and psychotic necromancer Harrowhark sees this as an opportunity to save the dying Ninth House if she Ascends but first she needs a cavalier. Gideon only cares because the announcement interrupts her latest and best attempt to escape the Ninth and join the army but then Harrowhark offers her an irresistible deal. Help Harrow Ascend and she will not only sign the paperwork so she can legally join the army, but also have Gideon commissioned as an officer.
Age of Death picks up right where the last book ended, which is good since that one had a major cliffhanger ending. However, don't get your hopes up for resolution as Sullivan serves up another such ending this time as well. The characters are now front and center instead of the war and yet the stakes have never been higher. Tressa's group is well on their way through the "hidden passage" to the Elven capitol, where they hope to rescue Suri, but they need arrive before the Elves manage to get the secret of dragon summoning from her. It may already be too late though as Suri has some new Elven allies who have convinced her that teaching their leader to summon dragons is the best way to bring about peace. It isn't clear which choice for Suri will lead to the best outcome but there are plenty of interesting revelations that happen along the way.
What made this series unique at the start was the concept of trying to survive an apocalypse by living in the sky aboard airships. Once the focus moved down to the planet for the last two books there were times when the series felt like it had gone on a bit too long. The same storm related issues continue to arise over and over and the fights with the sirens have gotten old, but each time the story starts to drag a bit it is the characters that save the day. After a slow start to this one I was once again heavily invested in the outcome before it was over due to the characters and my desire to see them succeed. King Xavier has more enemies to fight than ever before, and that is saying something, and that means that humanity's future is as bleak as it has ever been. Certain Cazadores still resist his rule and cause internal strife while even larger external threats are organizing to come and take the Vanguard Islands for themselves. Once more we get a chance to find out if X, aka The Immortal, can live up to his nickname, or if time has finally run out for the dream of living on the surface.
When the second half of the series begins a number of years have passed in the war between the humans and the elves. The humans have pushed the elves back to the Nidwalden river but the tower of Avempartha has prevented them from advancing any further and it has been this way for years. Out on the open plains, the humans rule with their superior numbers and their dragon ally, but within the forest near Avempartha the elves always come out on top in any skirmish. All attempts by the humans to cross the Nidwalden river have resulted in disaster as the magic wielders within Avempartha can easily stop all crossings from afar. It is within this period of frustration that Persephone decides to seek peace with the Elven leader and he agrees to talk, but only on his terms. He will only speak with Suri, the human mystic who summoned the dragon, and he requires her to come alone to the Elven capital. Is this the best hope for a peaceful resolution or is it just a trap that could turn the war against the humans?
Students of military history know that there are fifteen proven ways to defend a walled city. Unfortunately they all require things like catapults, weaponry, and soldiers. What the capitol of the Robur empire has are nice thick walls, five hundred watchmen, a few gardeners, some gladiators, and the Corps of Engineers led by Colonel Felix Orhan. Sadly, they also have an enemy that numbers thirteen thousand with the best armor and swords the empire can buy. Felix could run away and become a farmer somewhere, or even join the enemy since they are also pale skinned "barbarians", but he chooses the third option which involves making up a sixteenth method for defending a walled city.
As the newly chosen leader, Persephone must find a way to do the impossible and prepare the Rhunes (humans) for war against the Fhrey (elves) and their vastly superior weapons and magic. Not long ago the humans considered the Fhrey to be gods so going to war with them was unthinkable. That all changed when Raithe, now known as "the god killer," proved that the former gods could be slain. With the rebel elf, Nyphron, advising her on one hand, and Raithe offering different advice on the other, Persephone struggles to make the right choices with so much at stake. Ultimately siding against Raithe she decides to go with Nyphron's plan to attempt to take control of Alon Rhist, the elven stronghold on their border. Nyphron believes that this can be done without bloodshed due to his personal standing with the inhabitants, but if he is wrong the war could be over before it even starts. Nyphron seems to be offering good advice to Persephone but he is not without his own agenda. Since Nyphron and the other rebel elves still refuse to kill their kin, when the bloodshed starts it will be up to the humans to determine their own fate.
Terra of the future looks pretty good overall and Earth along with a few space stations are united under one representative government. The largest threat to that security is an enigmatic alien race, the Greys, that likes to kidnap humans for an unknown purpose. Although technologically stronger the Greys are vulnerable to powerful psionic attacks which has made the psi guilds prominent in the space navy. For that reason the government and the space navy take it very seriously when precogs all over the globe start reporting visions of navy personnel encountering at least one new race, and possibly two. Based upon those visions the navy launches a new set of exploratory missions including a crew made up of six people seen in the visions. Unfortunately for them, the visions all agree that there will be a crew of humans at the mercy of a hostile race that intends to eat them alive.
After giving us some insight into the cultures of the humans and elves in book one, this time around we learn a lot more about the dwarves. War is coming for the Rhunes (humans) and they are ill prepared to fight the elves for many reasons. Already 3 dahls (settlements) have been destroyed, including Dahl Rhen, and new chieftain Persephone finds herself leading her refugees toward Dahl Tirre. It is there that she hopes to summon all the clan chieftains together in order to elect a single ruler, known as a Keenig, to start fighting back. It is this process that exposes the many problems facing the humans, first and foremost of which is that they have very inferior weapons to the elves. This is where the dwarves come in, but unfortunately for Persephone and the other Rhunes the dwarves don't like them and gaining their help is not going to be easy.
Emmett is smart enough to know it sounds too good to be true, but he's desperate for money and being one of the first humans to visit another planet would be really cool. Still, he doesn't trust the slick corporate mouthpiece and once he's in space he would have no way of knowing if his mom was getting the medical care they promised. Then the guy's ring starts changing shapes, a ring made out of Nyxia, a substance Babel Corp found on the planet they call Eden, and Emmett is hooked. Besides, the contract looks legal. Naturally there's a catch or three, or maybe ten. First, the planet Eden is already inhabited by humanoids, but they say its not a problem because they have an agreement, not to mention the wildlife which killed most of the survey team. But they wait until Emmet and the other nine recruits are on the ship to reveal the most immediate catch. Only seven of them will actually be going down to Eden and so the trip will be spent in physical training and learning to manipulate Nyxia with their minds to prove themselves worthy of risking their lives for an enormous sum of money. However, not even Babel Corp is prepared for the really big catch that may kill them all.