Literature / The Saga of Seven Suns
A series of seven Space Opera Sci-Fi
novels by Kevin J. Anderson
, set in the Milky Way in The Future
. The principal players are (initially) the Terran Hanseatic League, governed with an iron fist by its dictatorial chairman, Basil Wenceslas; the Roamers, gypsies/opportunistic explorers in space
; and the Ildirans, the light-loving, psychically-linked inventors of the faster than light stardrive whose homeworld is illuminated by the titular seven suns. As the first novel unfolds, the Hydrogues, evil diamond-ship-using, gas-giant-dwelling aliens, and the World-Forest (initially just a fairly esoteric means of FTL communication) become major players.
As the series progresses, other major protagonist groups are introduced including the Klikiss
and their robot slaves
, and the Faeros and Wentals, who, along with the Hydrogues and Verdani (the World-forest) form a fairly traditional war of the elements plot, without the typical Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors
, however, as each is capable of fighting each of the others, and losing or winning, rather than one always beating the other.
The series consists of seven books, and a prequel graphic novel:
- Prequel: Veiled Alliances (Graphic Novel)
- Book 1: Hidden Empire
- Book 2: A Forest of Stars
- Book 3: Horizon Storms
- Book 4: Scattered Suns
- Book 5: Of Fire And Night
- Book 6: Metal Swarm
- Book 7: The Ashes of Worlds
Starting in 2014, a Sequel Series
, The Saga of Shadows
, is ongoing:
- The Dark Between the Stars
- Blood of the Cosmos
The series features the following tropes:
- Ape Shall Never Kill Ape: The Ildirans hold to this, due to the thism. While it's painful to break, it is not an ironclad rule.
- Alien Sky: The title says it all, really. Ildira is BRIGHT.
- The Alliance: The Roamer clans, and later, the Confederation under King Peter.
- Always a Bigger Fish: The first appearance of the faeros.
- Always Chaotic Evil: The Klikiss and their robots. The hydrogues, while inimical to corporeal races, are more an example of Blue and Orange Morality.
- Anyone Can Die: Though once established, main characters tend to scrape by fairly well, it can be hard to tell who's going to be important and who's going to die, what with the sheer size of the cast
- Becoming the Mask: Peter soon rises up to become a true king leading the people against the various evils of the galaxy. When Basil rants about "he's not even a real king!" one of his underlings muses "Maybe he is. More than we ever knew."
- Bee People: The Ildirans have a limited Hive Mind through the thism and castes for each function of their society, though the ruler is a male.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Four of them (Basil, Sirix, Rusa'h, and the hydrogues) operating largely independently, though Basil and Sirix have a tense partnership at one point.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: The Saga of Shadows has an alliance between the new Klikiss robot leader Exxos and the Shana Rei.
- Blackmail Backfire: As Peter's power grows, an increasingly manic Basil has the families of major admirals and general held hostage to force them to obey him. During the final battle, when one of his chief generals refuses to fire on an unarmed enemy vessel, Basil threatens the man's wife. Instead of cowering, the general declares that anyone who's reduced to threatening innocent lives to get ahead is no true ruler and switches sides with many of his fellow officers following suit.
- Colony Drop: Jess Tamblyn's attack on Golgen involves hitting the gas giant with several comets.
- Cosmic Horror Story: Borderline, and less so as the series goes on. Still, the hydrogues are initially presented as an uncaring and invincible force of nature, and humans as bit players in the elemental conflict.
- Crapsack World: Earth devolves gradually into one of these during the series, mostly because of Basil Wenceslas. The world on which Nira is imprisoned is another.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: It can be done by humans or Ildirans. Really, you're better off getting backup.
- Earth-Shattering Kaboom: Well, moonshattering anyway, in Ashes of Worlds.
- The hydrogues initial attack is a response to the destruction of one of their worlds with the Klikiss Torch, which converts gas giants to suns.
- Easy Evangelism: The telink/thism network. Mind you, there are strong insinuations that it involves (possibly unintentional) brainwashing. And it also turns out to be as much a weakness as a strength, and gets a lot of humans killed by the faeros who would have otherwise been safe.
- Elaborate Underground Base: Basil has one in the Whisper Palace.
- Eldritch Abomination: Hydrogues, faeros, wentals and verdani are borderline examples. The Shana Rei, mentioned in Ildiran legends and taking a central role in the Sequel Series are the genuine article.
- Elemental Embodiment: Obviously. The gaseous hydrogues, the sun dwelling faeros, the earth and plant based verdani, and the living water creatures called wentals.
- Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Averted in that none of the four elemental species trump another merely because of their affinity. The hydrogues and faeros are matched while the verdani are weakest without human help. At least not initially. The Wentals Took a Level in Badass in the last book.
- The Empire: The Hansa (malevolent, though according to the exposition it is supposedly organised on a confederal/alliance basisnote ) and the Ildirans (more nuanced).
- Energy Weapons: Jazers
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Sirix doesn't realize that DD actually likes the Colicoses, and is loyal to them for reasons other than programming.
- Likewise, Basil Wencelas's enmity with Peter. His ego and paranoia regarding Peter's criticisms and reservations leave him unable to understand that Peter is not trying to spite him, but trying to help humanity win the Hydrogue War.
- Evil Chancellor: Basil Wenceslas plays with this. Officially, he's just the Prime Minister and answers to the King, but in practice the King is supposed to be a puppet. He gets closer and closer to this as the King assumes more power.
- Fantastic Slurs: Hansa people call Roamers "Roachers." The Roamers call the Hansa "The Big Goose" and "Eddies." None of these is a compliment — though Eddies is sometimes used neutrally.
- The Federation: The Confederation.
- Forgotten Phlebotinum
- Four-Star Badass: Despite sometimes being a General Ripper, when he goes into action, General Lanyan reminds us why he's the commander of the Earth Defense Force.
- Adar Kori'nh is an old, obsolete soldier and he knows it knows it, but that doesn't stop him from doing everything in his power to whip the Solar Navy into shape.
- Adar Zan'nh combines Kori'nh's tactical skills and willpower with a level of ingenuity and flexibility that even humans are impressed by.
- Gambit Pileup: Each leader has their own idea of how best to save their people, however they define "their people." Mage-Imperator Jora'h takes note of this, because at least half of his plans are forced by someone else's dead hand.
- Guile Hero: Udru'h almost single-handedly splattered Rusa'h's rebellion by taking advantage of his enemy's mental flaws.
- Gunship Rescue: The Wetal-Strengthened/Chained Hydrogue Warglobes coming to the aid of the Confederation and Ildiran fleets above Golgen, in the second last battle against the Faeros. Also a callback/ironic echo to the very first major Hydrogue attack.
- Also, during the battle for Earth the constant arrival of more and more factions.
- Interspecies Romance: between Nira and Jora'h.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Nira's various children, the green priests, the various elemental incarnates, the various Verdani/Wental hybrids.
- The Ildirans have a breeding camp set up to produce these with various castes, as human genetic material produces Ildirans better at their inborn tasks. Nira's children were an attempt to strengthen the thism with her Green Priest telink ability.
- Hired to Hunt Yourself: As a minor element, Eldred Cain. Basil asks him to investigate who the leak to the media of Estarra's pregnancy is, which is revealed when Basil asks about it in light of it also getting leaked that the King and Queen are in effective house arrest. Cain takes the opportunity when asked how the investigation is going to suggest the perpetrator must be very clever for it to be so hard to find leads.
- Hive Mind: The thism is an incomplete example. Ildirans can act independently, but they're all connected together, instinctively know their place and obey the Mage-Imperator unless circumstances interfere. Rusa'h's thism is a straighter example.
- The elemental races are a straight example.
- Horde of Alien Locusts: the Klikiss
- Human Aliens: The Ildirans, except for some of the more specialized castes, are virtually indistinguishable from humans. Thoroughly averted with the other alien species, though.
- Humans Are Warriors: Which is why Adar Kori'nh takes a crash course in human military history.
- Idiot Plot: In-universe, Jorah considers his father and grandfather's plan to breed a communicator between them and the hydrogues to be this. Hundreds of years and untold suffering on a gamble when they could have used that time make better weapons to fight their enemy instead!
- Last Of Its Kind: The nebula wental.
- Never My Fault: Basil Wencelas increasingly becomes this as the series progreses. It gets bad enough that former Hansa Chairman Maureen 'Battleaxe' Fitzpatrick accuses him of being pathologically incapable of admitting any wrongdoing.
- Loads and Loads of Characters, many of whom have at least one chapter told from their point of view.
- No Blood for Phlebotinum: Ekti, a form of hydrogen most often found in gas giants, is vital for stardrive fuel, and much of the conflict between the Hansa, Roamers and hydrogues is fought over the ekti supply.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: Very much so, it's just hard to tell because there are so damn many of them.
- Precursors: The Klikiss have left behind ruins, strange technology, and powerful robots. They aren't all gone, though...
- Psychic Link: Between ALL the Ildirans, between Green Priests and the Verdani, and particularly between Nira's children.
- Punctuation Shaker: epitomised by the Ildirans, though it has some justification due to their ranks being denoted by the PunctuationShakers.
- Puppet King: Peter. Until he's not.
- Ramming Always Works: Ramming is the only thing that works, initially. The hydrogue warglobes could not be damaged by anything other then a ship being used as a giant missile.
- Recycled IN SPACE!: the Roamers are basically frontiersmen/gypsies IN SPACE, not to mention the use of a traditional fantasy-style Elemental battles plot.
- Revenge Before Reason: By the time of the fifth book Eldred Cain believes Chairman Wencelas has fallen victim to this when he attempts to abort Estarra's baby and force her to commit suicide. He flat-out tells his boss that he believes the Chairman has allowed the existing enmity between himself and King Peter to escalate into a personal vendetta.
- Space Elves: The Ildirans.
- Space Opera
- Shiny-Looking Spaceships: the Ildiran navy are decked out in solar sails and other shininess. Most of their time is spent on displays.
- Smug Snake: Basil is certainly clever, and he starts off a borderline Magnificent Bastard, but as his prolonged Villainous Breakdown happens he gets much sloppier, and is solidly in this trope for much of the series.
- Starfish Aliens: The Elementals.
- Summon Bigger Fish: Humanity's best hope for beating the hydrogues is to get other elementals as allies.
- Turned Against Their Masters: The Klikiss robots. And the Soldier compies, in later books.
- The compies were more that the people who owned them didn't realize that they weren't the masters.
- The Klikiss robots get complicated when it turns out they were meant to fight Klikiss, in a bid to control the Klikiss instinct to dominate. The Klikiss just didn't account for the possibility that the Klikiss robots would bring in alien races against them.
- Used Future: Roamer ships invoke this aesthetic.
- Villainous Breakdown: Basil has a prolonged one beginning after the appearance of the Hydrogues proves he's not as on top of things as he thought, and getting worse from there.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Cyroc'h, Udru'h. Basil Wenceslas starts out this way, but after breaking down, becomes less "well-intentioned" and more "It's All About Me."
- Wrench Wench: Zhett Kellum, Tasia Tamblyn.
- Youre Kidding Right: In the big climax, Basil storms the throne room and tells his security force to take Peter into custody and throw him in the dungeon. Looking around at how they're clearly outnumbered about four to one, the head of the force openly asks "Ah...how do you suggest we do that, sir?" Showing how far gone he is, Basil blames her as not being able to do her job.