-this review contains spoilers for The Eternity War: Pariah, proceed with caution-
Series: The Eternity War (2)
Genre: Military SF
Publication Date: 29/11/2018
Jenkins’ Jackals return!
Betrayed by one of their own and stranded in Directorate space, the crew of the Santa Fe must use all their wits and weaponry if they’re going to get out of this one alive. But even if they survive the battle, they still have a long way to go until they get home . . .
Pariah ended on a cliffhanger, and so Exodus begins with a bang. Then carries on with a lot more banging, which is exactly how I like my military SF.
So far the series, and its predecessor The Lazarus War has focused on the Alliance and the Krell, and now we get our first in-depth look at the other human polity: The Asiatic Directorate. When Artifact was released a few years ago, I thought the worldbuilding was a little basic, the West vs East divide of humanity a little cliché. But recent world events make Sawyer’s depiction of the future almost too plausible. The Directorate is made up of smaller groups, and here we focus on Uni-Kor – The united Korea. Unfortunately for our protagonists, it’s been unified in the model of the North.
Sawyer’s depiction of a Uni-Kor gulag is as bleak as it is gripping. The human villains even more ruthless than the Krell, and perhaps even more monstrous. The use of simulants in torture is a brilliantly brutal idea, a natural expansion of their use in war. That variety of application is something I’m really hoping to see more of as the series progresses.
As well as a development of the Directorate, we also get a glimpse into the larger history of Sawyer’s world. There are discussion that touch on the Fermi Paradox, and I love the way the layers are being slowly peeled back to reveal more and more detail. In particular the revelations concerning past civilisations. This is one of those elements that’s hard to write about without spoilers, but I will say we finally get answers about the prologue of Pariah, as well as call backs to mysteries left from the first trilogy.
Sawyer’s action scenes are as brilliant as ever, allowing the reader to feel every bullet zipping by. Every crunch of bone and spray of blood. It’s brutal and involved, yet manages never to glorify the violence. He also does an excellent job of keeping the tension even when a lot of the combatants can’t be killed. It helps that by this point we’re all very much invested in the characters, even our resident fishhead Pariah. Just because they can’t die, doesn’t mean they can’t take losses.
With The Lazarus War and Pariah behind it, and Dominion and The Shadow War ahead, Exodus appears to mark the mid-point of Sawyer’s master plan. Though this is one universe I’d be happy to read about forever. This is one SF series that you cannot afford to miss.