I knew this was an alien invasion book going in but it turned out not to be exactly what I was expecting. Aliens coming for our planet is pretty cliché at this point so I was expecting the typical large invasion force to show up and start kicking our asses right from the start; however, that isn't what happened. Instead it turns out that these invaders have studied humanity well enough from afar to know that if they just showed up and attacked us we would likely just nuke the planet to hell in the ensuing war and they would be left with nothing. They want a habitable planet so they need to deal with us first. Hence they launch a covert operation that arrives eleven years ahead of their full fleet, which is already on it's way, with the intent of either disarming our nuclear capability, or if that plans falls through then just wiping us out with a deadly virus. Either way they have the technology to pull it off as long as they remain undetected...
By the end of book two, Dina and her Inn, Gertrude Hunt, had gained a big boost in power from the peace conference without losing their rating in the Directory. She was also now viewed favorably by three powerful races from our galaxy and owed a favor by the Arbitrator, George. She and Sean are starting to date again when she receives an urgent message from her sister Maud, who is in need of rescue. She also receives another request for help that will prove far more dangerous on behalf of the Hiru. The Hiru are nearly extinct because a neighboring race believes them to be demons so they have used the last of their resources to buy two answers from the all-knowing Archivarius. In return for Dina's help in transporting and protecting the Archivarius, the Hiru offer her the second question. Since their parents, along with their Inn, completely vanished a few years ago Dina and Maud are unable to resist investigating despite the strong danger Gerturde Hunt will face.
Innovation is all the rage in the Union as the next generation picks up the reins from their parents. Although some characters from the first two First Law series return, they are much older now since it is 28 years after the end of the first trilogy and the focus is squarely on their children. The Dogman's daughter, Rikke, is not a fighter like her father, but she is gifted with "the Long Eye" and can see the future. Jezal's son Orso has certainly inherited his father's penchant for women and wine and just like his father he is ill prepared to be the next ruler. And finally, Glokta's daughter Savine is making a name for herself as an investor with the cunning she has learned from her father. All three are PoV characters eager to take on the world, unfortunately for them they are unlucky enough to inhabit a Joe Abercrombie world so things aren't likely to turn out too well for them.
With the second book this series gets more serious, more entertaining, and just plain better. Since this series is a fairly unique blend of both fantasy and sci-fi its great to see both aspects gaining more depth. Galactic politics come into play as Dina is asked to host a peace conference for three factions fighting over a single unique planet. The first faction are the vampires of the Holy Anocracy and one of the attendees is Lord Arland who she met in Clean Sweep. She is also familiar with the Merchant Nuan Cee and his clan of the Lees. The third faction is the Hope Crushing Horde of the Otrokars who have often clashed with the vampires as the two empires are both aggressive and expansive. The last time an Arbitrator tried to broker peace between the Otrakars and the Vampires it ended in disaster and blood. But in addition to the boost Gertrude Hunt, the Inn, would get from forty guests staying several days the Arbitrator offers a large paycheck that Dina desperately needs. According to the Treaty visitors to Earth must not reveal themselves to humans and the primary responsibility of the Innkeeper is to keep their guests safe. Dina is about to have a really bad week.
When Bob Johansson signed the contract to cryogenically freeze his head after death he never imagined the future that he would wake up to; however, he knew it had to be better than being dead. Now he is learning whether or not that is actually true. Things on Earth have gone from bad to worse in the 117 years since he died in a car accident and now Bob is awoken to a world that is a geo-political mess. The disappointment continues when he learns that he is no longer actually a human but rather a computer AI that happens to retain all of his human memories. No longer in control of his own destiny he is told that his consciousness will be placed into a space probe and launched into space in search of a new home for humanity. To a sci-fi geek like Bob that is kind of cool, but when a rival faction attacks the project facility he is launched on his mission before his training is even complete. He now needs to take on the universe alone, making it all up as he goes along...
All the freshwater on Earth is gone. Now the alien invaders are working on the oceans and they are down to about half their volume. If humanity is going to fight back, then the time is now. In the last book, the Cheyenne Mountain biosphere team proved that their new weapon was capable of disabling the alien shields so they shared that technology with the Ghosts of Atlantis, the last remaining military submarine. Now they have discovered a potential new alien vulnerability which could allow an attack to disable all of the aliens planetwide. They shared this knowledge with the GoA as well and Captain Noble has decided it is worth the risk to launch such an attack. While his team works on a longer range version of the weapon to make this possible Noble notices that biosphere goes dark. He must now decide between his attack plan and investigating what happened to the scientists who made it all possible - the scientists he promised to protect.
Gertrude Hunt is a Bed & Breakfast Inn where the guests are out of this world. Literally. Local Earth space has an amazingly high number of warp points which almost led to an interstellar war for possession of the planet back when humans were still making war with swords and arrows. Even though humans were completely unaware of galactic civilizations it was still decided to declare Earth neutral territory and the Inns were established, which also happen to be sentient beings themselves. The rules are simple: any violent acts by a guest is cause for a lifetime ban from the Inns and attracting any attention from humans will result in a species wide ban depending on the severity of the incident.
Dr. Sophie Winston and her small band of survivors now understand how dire their circumstances are, but unfortunately they are not aligned on how best to move forward. The aliens have already removed all of the fresh water from the planet and now they are working on the oceans where they are sucking the water into the toward their orbiting ships. Back on land the aliens have set up a number of "human farms" where they mount people onto poles and slowly drain the water from their bodies. The human farm that has been discovered in Colorado Springs has Sgt Overton adamant about mounting a rescue mission to save as many people as possible but Sophie believes that such a mission would put them all at risk and she refuses to authorize it. The strain of this disagreement has them both at their breaking points.
For long time fans of this series Cast in Wisdom is a satisfying return to what made the early books great. Kaylin and her friends are back to investigating the problem of Ravellon, the ancient city overrun by the corrupt Shadows that simultaneously exists on all worlds. When a shadow escapes into the Fief of Candallar without triggering its protective Tower and the dragon Bellusdeo suggests they start their investigation by looking closely into the border zone between the towers. To Kaylin and the others what they find is a strange puzzle, but to the Arkon it is of great personal significance. So much so that he will risk everything, including his sanity, to solve it and if the eldest and most powerful of the Dragon Lords should lose his sanity....
In the year 2055 an unprecedented series of solar storms results in a coronal mass ejection (CME) that bombards the Earth with radiation and renders many locations uninhabitable. This cataclysm motivates the governments of the world to start collaborating on a joint project to start to populate another world - Mars. New Tech Corporation (NTC) becomes responsible for getting humans to the red planet and they are hiring the best scientists in the world to make it happen. Their sense of urgency in this endeavor is off the charts and that is because they know something that most people on Earth don't - the CME of 2055 was not a random event.