Gods & Assassins is a detour in Frank Kennedy’s panoramic Collectorate space opera story, told over a few long series. Whereas the main game is a vast tale encompassing worlds galore, in Gods & Assassins, released in the form of five short novels picturesquely titled Red Dust, Silver Skin, Blue Heart, Black Star, and White Sunset, the focus narrows to Royal, a barbarous, immortal once-God, now scrabbling a living on a shit-bucket planet. Over the five books, Royal (and his even more bloodthirsty collaborator, Moon) begins carving out a criminal enterprise that spreads from a town to a planet to a collection of planets. Aided by an ancient intelligence he allies with, Royal assembles an organization lovingly described by the author. Like his main series, this one oozes atmosphere, in this case Royal’s bloodthirstiness (this read is not for the faint-hearted), is packed with set-piece action sequences that work wonderfully, fizzes with lively dialogue, and is underlaid by complex politics. In essence, Gods & Assassins is a 1,000-plus-page novel that will energize any lover of space science fiction.