Sasha Naradnyo had come a long way from the slums of Crack City on the planet Peezgtaan—from Human gangster to head of security for Tweezaa e‑Traak, the Varoki heiress to the largest fortune in the history of the Stellar Commonwealth. Then the largest nation on the Varoki home world collapsed into riots and civil war, a murderously anti‑human Varoki fanatic made his bid for power, and the head of the Secret Police decided to take a personal interest in Sasha.
Now Sasha must navigate the violence and anarchy of a growing revolution, come to grips with ghosts from his past who have suddenly turned up alive, make common cause with resistance fighters who want him dead, expose a conspiracy which will shake the Commonwealth to its foundations . . . and do it all without losing his soul.
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In this poorly paced sequel to 2014's How Dark the World Becomes, former gangster Sasha Naradnyo winds up fighting for his life when he's caught in the middle of a military coup on the grim planet of Peezgtaan. He gets his family to safety, but he's trapped in a hostile alien city when racial tensions explode, forcing him to take refuge in the human-occupied neighborhood of Sookagrad. His only hope is to make a tentative alliance with criminals and revolutionaries, and to use his logistical skills and experience to organize the locals into a makeshift defense against the encroaching army. This job is complicated when long-lost relatives surface after many years, and one of them holds the key to a devastating secret that could upset the balance of power in the Commonwealth. Though Sasha is in his element as a leader and innovator, the real conflict comes as he attempts to reconcile his new pacifistic attitude and role as a family man with the thug he used to be. The story starts slowly but picks up quickly, though it suffers from a rushed final act and hasty wrap-up. Chadwick's worldbuilding is compelling yet oddly claustrophobic in this installment.