Book Review: House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

I really liked this book. It didn’t hook me at first, and I thought it slowed down a bit in the middle, but I’ve always enjoyed Reynolds’ work and John Lee is a great narrator. Ultimately, the ending was fantastic and I think the Goodreads score of 4.2 is completely justified.

House of Suns follows three first-person POVs. Two of these belong to Campion and Purslane, clones of a woman named Abigail Gentian born nearly six million years before when humanity was just starting to explore the galaxy. Since then they and the thousand other clones of Abigail Gentian have crossed the galaxy countless times assisting and observing the many human cultures that have come and gone during that time. The third POV consists of flashbacks from Abigail Gentian’s childhood, memories that all of the clones share. At the beginning of the novel Purslane and Campion are running several decades late for the Gentian Line reunion, an event that happens every quarter million years at which the clones of Gentian Line sync their memories and conduct various pieces of business. At first, this tardiness is a major problem as the two of them have become romantically involved and the implications of them both arriving late together are obvious. As it turns out, their tardiness saves their lives. When they arrive at the reunion and discover that the entire star system has been destroyed in an effort to wipe out all of the Gentian clones. Luckily there are other survivors, and together they have to discover why someone would try to wipe them out aa well as find the collaborator in their midst.

It’s during the investigations and politicking that follow the ambush that the plot slows down a bit. Although we learn a great deal about the characters involved I found some parts of this book drags. The ending however makes it worth it. Reynolds excels at portraying the weirdness of post-human societies and basking in the enormity of the universe. Read this book, or listen to it on Audible like I did, if you want a story that takes place on long time scales (60,000+ years), have a fascination with megastructure concepts, or like to ponder the relationship between memory and identity.

109 thoughts on “Book Review: House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds”

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