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Angelmass [Hardcover]

Timothy Zahn
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Sept. 28 2001

Timothy Zahn, renowned for his bestselling Cobra and Black Collar series, and for his hugely successful Star Wars trilogy, takes a giant step with a novel sure to thrill science fiction readers everywhere. Mankind has colonized many planets, most under the control of Earth and its Pax Comitus. One group of colonies, the Empyrean, has resisted the Pax, and now the Pax has sent a spy, Kostas, to try to alter the balance of power there.

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From Amazon

How does Hugo-winner Timothy Zahn turn an otherwise straightforward SF page-turner into something truly interesting? With one of the oldest shticks in the book: the good ol' black-hole-that-spits-out-quantum-particles-of-human-goodness trick.

Of course, that's not exactly an old sci-fi shtick, but the essence of it (and its effect) is: the ever-clever Zahn has taken a very cool idea--what if there were quantum particles (or whatever) that compelled people to act ethically--and then explored the impact that might have, in this case on a society and its internal and external interactions. The particles in question are called "angels," and the interstellar alliance known as the Empyrean has been blessed with Angelmass, the eponymous black hole that emits them. The greedy, Earth-based Pax empire sees these angels as a brainwashing alien invasion and threatens to invade the Empyrean itself to set things straight. Thrown into the fray to explicate the implications are a bumbling but earnest Pax scientist-spy, a pretty young grifter, a brother-sister pair of grizzled space vets, and an Empyrean High Senator who fears the complacency that angels have bred into his society.

Fast, fun, and thought-provoking, Angelmass combines Star Wars-style action (which Zahn knows well) with enough substance to satisfy a more serious reading. --Paul Hughes

From Publishers Weekly

Hugo winner Zahn (Conquerors' Legacy and numerous Star Wars novels) offers a satisfyingly complicated story of an alien force, Angelmass, that has for decades been spewing off particles called Angels, which have power over human behavior. Angelmass has become a significant part of the governing structure of one interplanetary system, the Empyrean, and a source of concern for its legendary enemy, the Pax Comitus. A series of marginalized characters contends with its social effects and other properties: Jereko Kosta, an academic researcher into atomic physics trained as a Pax spy; Chandris Lalasha, a highly skilled thief who is escaping a dangerous lover and hoping for a big score; High Senator of the Empyrean, Arkin Forsythe; and Forsythe's aide, Ronyon. Forsythe is ostracized because he doesn't like the Angels that all senators are supposed to use, Ronyon because he is mute and of low intelligence. Predictably, these individuals become the heroes of the story, willing to pursue unpopular scientific theories (Kosta opposes Pax and discovers important information about Angelmass), to sacrifice their goals for others (Lalasha learns to help her friends, personal and intergalactic) and to question official scientific and governmental opinions. Through in-depth characterization, as well as toothsome scientific and political mysteries, Zahn unfolds an intricate tale of adventure sure to please his many fans.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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First Sentence
There were two of them waiting as Jereko Kosta climbed awkwardly up the ladder through the shuttle hatch: a young ensign and an equally young crewer second class, both clothed in shiny black and silver Pax military uniforms, the glistening red and blue threads of the Komitadji's insignia pattern swirling with arrogant pride across collarbone and shoulder. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Zahn's engaging writing style makes this book a real page-turner. He blends some elements of "hard" sci fi within a space opera and spy thriller context. The political/strategic conflict between the Pax and the Empyrean is fascinating, as is the scientific mystery about Angelmass that slowly unfolds as the story progresses. The philosophical issues (can "Good" be quantified? What constitutes sentience?) are thought-provoking and handled very naturally in the narrative. We don't find out the truth about Angelmass until the end of the book.
Also, the main characters are very believable and realistic, in my opinion. Kosta, Chandris, Forsythe, Telthorst, Lleshi, Ronyon, Hanan, and Ornina are all very human, and each seems to have very valid reasons for his or her actions. Their motives are believable and reasonable, given their backgrounds. Each character has his or her own fears/vulnerabilities and aspirations, and I found them all to be very memorable (BTW, I keep imagining Christopher Lee as Lelshi, due to his aristocratic, military demeanor).
I found the plot to be highly engaging, and I found the ending of the book to be very satisfying. One previous reviewer thought there were some loose ends, but I don't see it that way at all. I found the conclusion to be perfectly reasonable, without resorting to a "storybook picture-perfect" ending with everything neatly tied with a bow. On the contrary, I found the ending had more of an authentic feel to it.
If you're looking for a science fiction story with both a sense of wonder and action, this might be what you're looking for.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Zahn falters July 22 2003
By jrmspnc
Format:Mass Market Paperback
When Timothy Zahn is at his best, there is nobody better. The Conquerors Trilogy deserves to be remembered as an all-time great, and The Icarus Hunt was a delightful action/suspense novel that keeps the reader on the edge of the seat. Angelmass, unfortunately, does not come close to Conquerors or Icarus. It is better than some of Zahn's middle-period works (like Triplet, for example), but not the five-star we'd been coming to expect. (And that's okay; we can't expect a writer to be perfect *every* time, can we?)
Angelmass is a black hole that spits out "angels." What the angels are and how they affect humans is the center point of the novel, and often the science babble overwhelms the story. Characters here are often too wooden, and sometimes seem to be caricatures of previous Zahn characters (High Senator Forsythe reads like a dumbed-down version of Talon Karrde, for example). We learn on the last page to our astonishing lack of surprise that the two main characters are becoming romantically involved - a result both blatantly predictable and poorly developed.
But then one doesn't read Zahn for character or romance, does one? Zahn is best at plotting and action, and Angelmass provides both. Zahn is a master of battle - both space battles and one-on-one combat, and there is enough of each here to please any Zahn fan. There's political intrigue, too, of course. In short, Zahn fans will find enough here to enjoy. Non-Zahn fans, however, may read this one and wonder what all the Zahn fuss is about.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Falls Flat Dec 12 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
There are some books that when they end, you want to run to the book store to make sure your copy wasn't missing any pages. Angelmass is one of those. It's a pretty good book right up to the end, where things just end without being resolved. There are more questions than answers at the end, which leaves room for a sequel, but left me feeling that all the build-up was for nothing. When all is said and done the Pax still hold Lorelei, Angelmass is still a threat (not an immediate one), and Empryan society is about to be thrown into chaos.
I shouldn't be surprised really. All of the Zahn books I've read: the Star Wars Thrawn Trilogy, the Conquerors Trilogy, Star Wars Hand of Thrawn Duology, and Icarus Hunt all have the same kind of open-ended finish, but in those cases there was always enough excitement to make the trip worthwhile. Angelmass, however, moved along slowly but didn't have much of a payoff for readers who plodded through the first 500 pages waiting for the "secret" of Angelmass to be revealed and for the big showdown between the Pax and Empryans.
The good thing about Angelmass, though, is that Zahn sticks to his strengths. The overall universe is about the same as the Conqueror's Trilogy and Icarus Hunt (and even his Star Wars books) and similar enough to our own that he doesn't need to spend the whole book explaining how everything works. There's more science featured in Angelmass, making it less approachable than his last efforts, but in small enough doses so that it doesn't dominate the entire book. The characters are fairly well-written, though some seemed like warmed-over versions of characters from previous novels. And as always, Zahn uses a mix of political intrigue, military strategy, science, and con artistry to full advantage.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Change of pace Aug. 27 2002
Format:Mass Market Paperback
This is not your everyday novel involving a massive interstellar plot. It involved few character to keep track of. It was definatly a change of pace. I realy enjoyed it. Instead of all out war there was subtle hints of a possible alien invasion.
The Empyrean has found a way to keep their polititions and high ranking military members ethical. The use of angels. The angels are produced by a small black hole aptly named Angelmass. The Pax, a goverment that seems like the good guys at the begining, see the angels as a alien intelligence trying to warp the minds of the Empyreans. The Pax has sent a young inexperienced spy, Jeriko Kosta, to find out the truth behind the angels. But instead finds the whole thing to be utterly confusing. Meanwhile the Pax is sending a task force to "liberate" the Empyrean's form the angels. This presses Kosta for time to find what is really going on out at Angelmass.
I was expecting a plot more like the other Timothy Zahn books I have read. Nevertheless i still enjoyed this novel aproach on the whole good vs. evil idea. The only thing I didn't like was the sub plot with the Adjutor's real agenda came out at the very last and didn't have the mystery and guessing I would have liked with plot twists. All in all, a good book.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Character Development
Excellent development of the main characters. I cared about them enough to be concerned for them--I didn't want to see them get hurt, etc. In fact, I really liked them. Read more
Published on Feb. 29 2004
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting
Angelmass was not really at all what I was expecting. It was very interesting and forced me to ask specific questions about the character's actions. Read more
Published on Feb. 6 2004 by Christina A Matta
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Disappointing
I finished this book, but afterwards I have to wonder why. The characters were trite, the plot was juvenile, and the science in the science fiction was ludicrous. Read more
Published on Nov. 14 2003 by Jeffrey Owens
3.0 out of 5 stars Angelmass, a blackhole of boring
Well, what can I say. I finished it, and I can't say I hated it, but I wasn't rushing home to finish it either. Read more
Published on Oct. 21 2003 by flodnag
4.0 out of 5 stars Angelmass is good...
...but not excellent. At first look, the actual concept is very original and promising. It is both of those, but there's something about how Zahn takes it that doesn't make it as... Read more
Published on Aug. 12 2002 by Turambar_`
4.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating - and that's good!
Before I ramble on, I'd like to say that I recommend Angelmass, so please don't take this review as being negative in any way.
"The door dialated. Read more
Published on Jan. 11 2002 by Rick
5.0 out of 5 stars Exciting story--interesting speculation
Author Timothy Zahn writes an exciting novel. ANGELMASS is enjoyable both because of the adventure plot and also because of the interesting scientific speculation about... Read more
Published on Oct. 29 2001 by booksforabuck
5.0 out of 5 stars A thought-provoking novel
The black hole dubbed "ANGELMASS" because of what it emits has dramatically changed the Empyrean colonists on planet Seraph. Read more
Published on Oct. 14 2001 by Harriet Klausner
4.0 out of 5 stars Zahn can't really make a bad book
This book was pretty good (not great). It was a little lacking in Zahn's typical "take existing sci-fi technology and do things with it no-one has ever thought about",... Read more
Published on Oct. 13 2001 by David Mcanulty
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