A fulfilling conclusion to the Species Imperative Trilogy that started with Survival. In Migration earth was saved at the last moment, the Ro signal stopped, the Dhryn turned back, and the Dhryn ships were destroyed by the Ro when they couldn’t use them to attack earth. But there are still Dhryn out there following a species instinct that kills worlds. Not all members in the Inter-species Union (IU) realise or accept that the Ro are the true enemies, many still fear the Dhryn.
Dr. Mackenzie “Mac” Connor studies Salmon and she keeps telling people that (it becomes more and more ironic as the story unfolds). Her Origin group has become the focus for the IU’s Gathering even now when it is being dispersed. Her best friend, Dr. Emily Mamani doesn’t remember anything from her time with the Ro. But she is furious and in need of some stable human company to help her recover mentally so Mac goes with her to the Norcoast Salmon Research Base. Em and Mac struggle with their relationship. Em started out as an idealist looking for the Chasm Survivor Race, but got involved with the Ro.
Before Mac leave the Gathering she exchange promises with Sinzi-ra Archen, a promise that will have major repercussions. Her mission is to find out how the Dhryn evolved and how they could be weaponized by the Ro. Her friendship with Brymn and her own research let her see the Dhryn as victims too. Victims that needs to be stopped, but still victims that should be saved if possible.
Mac’s welcome home party at the Base is heartwarming and well written.
Mac’s boyfriend Nikolai “Nik” Trojankowski was sent on a contact mission to the Dhryn Progenitor who helped save Earth. The whole trilogy conspire to keep the star-crossed lovers apart. Nik is her spy.
Czerneda’s world building is outstanding. The alien races especially, her background in biology shows. Beside the obvious major races i had fun with the Grimnoii, a race of depressing giant teddy bears and with the Si, a tree-living walking-stick-like race of clumsy warriors. Fourteen is also a very colorful and entertaining alien.
Spoiler alert, if you read on it might spoil it for you.
At the Base Em remember critical information, the Ro placed something in the ocean. Mac sets the whole Base to look for it with Emily in charge. While she heads for the original Dhryn home world in the Chasm.
Mac starts to feel the importance IU puts on her mission when first her ride is upgraded to a dreadnought, then two Sinzi join the crew, one of them is the former Sinzi-ra of Haven the last Dhryn home planet, he’s multi mind also host the newly elected speaker of the IU’s inner Council.
Meanwhile a fleet of dead Dhryn ships is found on the outskirts of Haven, the Home world. It’s all the ships from the Dhryn colony worlds, that arrived after the Progenitor left. Mac is still the only person that understand the Dhryn language. The IU send three of them to Myriam for Mac to look at them.
The Sinze gave Nik some spiffy rings that he uses to send messages to Mac with. Unknown to him they record more than the message, they record being him sending the message. He is on his way to the progenitor who is in an area with radiation dangerous to life, but he makes it and can deliver the truth to the progenitor.
Dr. Mackenzie “Mac” Connor is in the center of it when much is revealed, a new kind of Dhryn is discovered, the IU is threatening to fall asunder under mistrust, the story how the Chasm really was laid waste is revealed and the scene is ready for the epic final fight in the Sol-system.
There are some loose threads after this book. Chasm 232 is an exploded planet that might have had an aquatic species that might have survived the destruction by running sub light, to a system 100 light years away, outside the transact network. Something Emily might do in a new book?
The Species Imperative trilogy forms a circle and the Sinzi have a thing for circles. It’s a great story with a successfully told Big Idea, the characters are to love, the science is beautifully and skillfully presented by Julie E. Czerneda.