Written by David Brin.
Narrated by George K. Wilson.
This is book 1 of the Uplift Trilogy and book 4 of the Uplift Saga. I read the first three books of the Uplift Saga when I was in high school uncountable unmentionables ago. It seems time makes memory fuzzy yet I’m going to state that this book has a rocky start for the reader until you are several chapters into the work. Let’s lay the basis.
Uplift – a patron species that has already achieved star travel arrives and selects advanced pre-sentient species to genetically advance so that they are capable of traveling the stars. Each patron species ranking in galactic culture is based on how many species they have uplifted and whether or not an interstellar war was the result.
During the time frame of this book there are six master patron species forming the Galactic Council. They have laid down rules on how to treat planets and where species are allowed to colonize. They have stamped their approval on seven standardized Galactic languages and created a draconian entity, The Galactic Library. Any squatter or Sooner colonies on off limits worlds are subject to immediate judgment by the Library Enforcers and the penalty is sterilization…maybe.
See, the colonies established on Jijo by six Sooner species tribes including humans are out of touch. The Humans got there by way of a massive ship called the Tabernacle three hundred years prior to this story. Their methods of keeping knowledge alive is through an order of Sages and printing technology that would make Gutenberg sigh in disgust.
A human is discovered wandering out of marshland with a gaping hole in his skull. The Sage Arianna embarks on a journey with her assistant Sarah to the cave known as Biblios where they expect to get help figuring out who this guy is. Elsewhere, a research station of “Star Humans” are employing locals to help them illicitly gather wild DNA which they will implant on other worlds and eventually hope to reap Upliftable species. In another broad stroke you have the bunch that always exists who do not like where this is going and have machinations running to subvert being: destroyed, sterilized, outed to the Galactic Council…
There is a lot to this story and I can not even hope to spoil it in the space of this review. Did I like the story? Yes. Was I ticked at the choices the author made in arranging the first several chapters? Yes. Was the narration a good fit? Yes. How was the World building? Really imaginative, diverse and overwhelming at times but then it would revert to the human mindset imposed on non-human species.
This book should be read in close succession with the first three books from the Uplift Saga. I am giving this a three out of five as a stand alone read. Enjoy.