This was my first Modesitt book, and may well be my last. I simply do not understand why so many si-fi writers have to plague their books with religion and politics, but it gets really old. Alastair Reynolds remains my favorite si-fi writer. Modesitt has a wonderful imagination, but the religious overtones of this book really annoyed me halfway through the book.
Best hard sf book I've read lately.
For those who enjoy science fiction that involves the exploration of unknown planets and artifacts, this book is a good read. A bit of military sci-fi is thrown in for good measure.
The structure of the book is interesting in that it is written in the first person but is from the perspective of four different characters. Each chapter starts with the name of the character so readers will need to pay attention to who is the focus of the chapter, especially if your reading is interrupted mid-chapter. Also note that one of the characters is an academic who loves to elucidate in obscure terminology so having a dictionary on hand is helpful.
The book moves at a good pace with exposition interlaced with action so I never found myself having to slog through dull sections, nor was the action so rapid and chaotic that I found myself scratching my head and wondering what happened. There are some heady science concepts involved but it is still possible to grasp what is going on without an advanced degree in physics or astronomy.
Overall, a good, fast read that is entertaining and thought provoking at the same time.
Interesting mix of characters and premise.... a little slow starting, but keeps your interest throughout.