The Promised Few by Frank Kennedy [8/10]

Grandiloquent space opera grounded in the lives of real people flows from the pen of Frank Kennedy. “The Promised Few” is the conclusion of his tetralogy, The Impossible Future, and it delivers as a maximum-octane, intelligent finale. Over the previous three instalments, we followed the lives of three young Americans – awkward Jamie, joshing Michael, and composed Samantha – thrust into the sprawling space empire of the tyrannical Collectorate. At the end of Book 3, James was a rising god overseeing god-human hybrids and immortals, now ravaging the Collectorate; Samantha was Collectorate nobility captured by James; and Michael was a semi-reluctant rebel within the Collectorate. The Promised Few plunges us into frenetic action interspersed with brilliantly conceived and executed space empire diplomacy. Kennedy’s dialogue is whip-smart, his control of the rocketing pace is wonderful, and the many battle scenes thrill. Imaginative plot twists abound. Best of all, the grandiosity of the war and diplomacy sit alongside deeply rooted character studies; this is that rarest type of space opera, one that marries the personal with the vast. And, in the grand tradition of this genre, the entire series of four books is suffused with the mystery of the Jewels, powers that choreograph the fate of all three of our characters, and indeed of the world. The Promised Few is a superb closing volume of a brilliant series. Indulge yourself and sink in!

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