three-and-half-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
31-Nov-Dec-2007
user_rating: 
0

Book Two of Virga

A-Queen of CandesceAt the conclusion of Sun of Suns, Venera Fanning is falling through space in Virga, a self-contained balloon that holds people living in free-floating cylindrical and wheel-shaped cities powered by artificial suns. Venera lands safely on Spyre, a decaying world divided into paranoid micro-nations and governed by ancient traditions and rigid class systems. To obtain the power she needs to escape, she poses as the long lost heiress to the nation of Buridan, upsetting Spyre’s delicate political balance. War, destruction, and chaos will result, but more is at stake than Venera’s quest for vengeance: she possesses the key of Candesce, an ancient artifact with the power to destroy Virga.
Tor. 336 pages. $25.95. ISBN: 0765315440

SF Revu 4 of 5 Stars
"One of the real treats in this series is the wildly improbable but ultimately reasonable constructs that Schroeder creates within the constraints of Virga. … With Queen of Candesce, Karl Schroeder’s Virga saga establishes itself as an SF saga of the same order as LeGuin’s Earthsea stories, Asimov’s Robot stories, and Niven’s Ringworld stories." Ernest Lilley

Fascination Place 3.5 of 5 Stars
"It’s a lively story … Queen still has a satisfying ending, and even stands on its own perfectly well. … The story does seem a bit roundabout when Venera stages her grand pose, but it’s all so much fun to read that I didn’t care a bit." Michael Rawdon

Sci Fi Weekly 3.5 of 5 Stars
"The Queen of Candesce doesn’t provide everything the prequel’s fans may expect, but it offers a generous abundance of reading pleasure, and it confirms that Karl Schroeder belongs in the front ranks of SF world-builders." Cynthia Ward

SF Canada 3.5 of 5 Stars
"As strong a character as [Venera] is, it’s still the setting that upstages all of the characters and even much of the plot in this one." Don D’Ammassa

SF and Fantasy News 3 of 5 Stars
"As much as I enjoyed this second chapter in the Virga saga, in some ways it felt less like a second chapter to a larger tale and more like a picaresque side-tale. … Add to that an ending that renders much of the story’s intrigue moot, and I was left with a vague sense of dissatisfaction and impatience." Arthur Bangs

Critical Summary

The ingenuity and inventiveness of Karl Schroeder’s miniuniverse has ushered the acclaimed author into the ranks of leading world-builders. In this second chapter of the Virga saga, Schroeder takes a different approach, with mixed reactions from the critics. He largely abandons the worlds and characters introduced in Sun of Suns and focuses on one character, the Machiavellian Venera Fanning, and one place, the world of Spyre. Most critics agreed that Venera was one of the most interesting protagonists in the earlier book, and she shines here, but it is Virga itself that steals the show. Frequent flashbacks and explanations allow the novel to stand alone, but the brisk plot and vivid settings will leave readers anxiously awaiting the next installment.

First in the Series

Sun of Suns Book One of Virga (2006): In this swashbuckling space-pirate adventure, young Hayden Griffin infiltrates the military and wins the trust of Admiral Chaison Fanning, the man he believes to be responsible for his parents’ deaths and the destruction of his home.