The Armies of Memory

John Barnes, Author . Tor $25.95 (429p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0330-1

Splendidly wrapping up the far-future cloak-and-psychological-dagger series that began with A Million Open Doors (1992), this last grand adventure of master spy and latter-day troubadour Giraut Leones covertly steers the Thousand Cultures of near-immortal humanity between "the box," total withdrawal into virtual reality, and interstellar war involving the "aintellects" Giraut loathes for wanting to enslave their human masters. Giraut and his team fend off assassination attempts, while his songs change the hearts of beings around him—and ultimately his own. Rich with glowing resonances of medieval Languedoc, the inspiration for Barnes's convincing Nou Occitan milieu and language, this final chorale of a long and brilliant SF symphony reprises some of his most intriguing characters via the "psypyx," the consciousness-recording device that allows individuals to die physically and be reborn in new bodies. As Giraut loses one love after another, he discovers that the artist must grow beauty around the wounds in his own heart, an echo of Provençal courtly love that drives him through "insane glorious dangers" into a final Cyrano-sweep of a plumed hat at death: quel geste! (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 01/23/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
Genre: Fiction
Discover what to read next