Stephen R. Donaldson is the bestselling author of the series The Gap Cycle, Mordant's Need, and the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, including Lord Foul's Bane and The Second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant; and other works, such as Daughter of Regals and Other Tales and a mystery series under the pseudonym Reed Stephens. He is the recipient of the first prize of the British Science Fiction Society and the John W. Campbell Memorial Award.
Although this third volume of Donaldson's projected five-volume space epic doesn't answer the questions raised in the first two books ( The Real Story and Forbidden Knowledge ), it brings many new, if unsatisfying, twists to the various plots and counterplots. And the scattered main characters--captured police officer Morn Hyland and rival pirates Angus Thermopyle and Nick Succorso--are assembled by the book's end. Nick, with Morn under guard and the angry alien Amnion on his tail, has fled to the pirate trading post Billingate, where he hopes to wheel and deal his way out of the mess he's in--even if this means trading Morn to the Amnion. Angus, meanwhile, successfully programmed by the police back in human space, has been sent to Billingate as well, ostensibly to sabotage it. But it seems that Nick, who sometimes works for the cops himself, was sent to wreak havoc on Billingate, too . . . and the convolutions don't stop there. By the final pages, readers may well have no idea who is doing what, or why, or at whose bidding. Original purposes are revealed as lies; new motives contradict others; unlikely coincidences spur major plot twists. But through it all runs Donaldson's trademark sadism, betrayal, amorality and purposeless cruelty, so his fans will hardly be disappointed. (Oct.)