In the Shadow of Death is set in a universe with an extremely complicated political system. This system involves six political parties who are allied into two major camps. Those who aren’t loyal to the main players are constantly nipping at their heels, waiting for a chance to destabilize the alliance. Any shift in power could result in war and upheaval. The main character of the book is Second Scout Terrliss-rr. He is the new military aide to the General Assembly’s Envoy, who is investigating charges of corruption on the planet Elexi.
Apparently, Kapel Pen, the ruler of Elexi, has condoned (or at least not prevented) free citizens being enslaved to fulfill the labor needs of the mining planet Anulus. Anulus, which is under Elexi control, is a strategic and very lucrative asset because of it’s mining and refining operations. Normally the systems are left pretty much to their own devices. But when free families are forcibly relocated, the Bureau of Administrative Affairs overrides local hierarchies and steps in. Returning to Terr, we follow his progress on Elexi as he meets violent opposition from local priesthood guards and corrupt officials. His investigation is aided by the slave boy Alasi, who watched while his family were taken away by government staff.
When I first started the book, I found the swift point of view changes disorienting. Trying to understand who everyone was and how the political system worked added to the confusion. However, I discovered that if you persevered, it became a gripping story, which made you care about what happened to the characters.
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