Empire of Light (Shoal Sequence 3) by Gary Gibson

Title: Empire of Light
Series: Shoal Sequence book 3
Author: Gary Gibson
Genre: Space Opera
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Tor UK July 2010

Order from: Tor UK | Amazon US | UK | sfbok

The nova war has begun to spread as the Emissaries wage a fierce and reckless campaign, encroaching on the area of space occupied by humanity and forcing the Shoal into a desperate retreat. While Dakota goes in search of the entity responsible for creating the Maker caches, Corso, left in charge of a fleet of human-piloted Magi ships, finds his authority crumbling in the face of assassination attempts and politically-motivated sabotage.

If any hope exists at all, it lies in an abandoned asteroid a thousand light-years beyond the Consortium’s borders, and with Ty Whitecloud, the only man alive with the skill to decipher the messages left behind by an ancient race of star travellers. Unfortunately Whitecloud is locked in a prison cell aboard a dying coreship adrift in space, awaiting execution for war crimes against Corso’s own people. But if humanity has any hope of survival, Corso is going to have to find some way to keep him alive – and that’s only if Dakota doesn’t kill him first …


This book is dedicated to Emma and continues the story from Nova War.

World building

This is where we learn about the entity behind the Maker caches spread through the galaxy and maybe the known universe as traps for emerging interstellar civilizations. It reminds me a bit of Neal Asher’s Jain technology but different. We also learn about their counterpart the slower than light traveling race the Atn. But much remind hidden in mystery.

On the other hand human politics continue to disgust as the Peacekeeper fleet becomes more powerful.

The Author

Gary Gibson is a new acquaintance I have only read Stealing Light and Nova War before. According to Tor UK he is a graphic designer, previously magazine editor, in his home city of Glasgow. He has been writing since the age of fourteen. Gary has become one of my favorite authors with this series.


With both sides in the war having access to the Nova weapon it threatens life in the galaxy. Something has to be done and Dakota tracks down one of the entities behind the Maker caches and discovers a lead to a possible solution.

The quest bring former enemies together but the mistrust is strong as they put the pieces together for a reckless rush into enemy territory worthy of Star Wars to deal a decisive blow before it is too late.


I like the way Gary explores the feelings after a war crime like the massacre the main characters where involved in here. Dakota seems a bit less accessible in this book and I find myself rooting more for Corso.

I also enjoyed reading about Ty Whitecloud’s struggles aboard that dying coreship.

My View

Empire of Light would be a good concluding book minus the epilogue that opens up for a sequel. I like the whole series, it feels fresh and original; it reads easy, I finished all three books in just a few days; it has a good escalation of the scope with each novel and the characters are accessible even if the human interest factor becomes less and less as the characters evolve. It should not be the last book in the Sheol Sequence according to the ‘cliffhanger’ epilogue. It is wide open for sequels.

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