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On the Razor's Edge    by Michael Flynn order for
On the Razor's Edge
by Michael Flynn
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Michael Flynn's lyrical Spiral Arm series has given us rousing far future SF filled with battles, heroes, and quests. On the Razor's Edge is the fourth in the series (which has a strong Celtic flavor), following The January Dancer, Up Jim River and In the Lion's Mouth. At the center of the conflict is a Long Game between the Confederation of Central Worlds and the United League of the Periphery (carried out by their feared, all powerful agents, Hounds and Shadows).

If the series has one hero (or perhaps antihero) it would be the scarred man, Donavan buigh. Serving the Confederation, he took on the personality of the Fudir, a petty thief. Later, the Names (leaders of the United League) punished him by slivering his intellect, leaving his mind a quarrelsome committee, which I for one have appreciated watching in bickering action. Despite this, he can be very effective indeed. Now Donavan has been embroiled in a perilous civil war between those who support and oppose different Names.

Holding key knowledge from a past rebellion against the Names, Donavan was kidnapped in In the Lion's Mouth and is now being taken to Earth to play his part there. He was once the lover of Bridget ban, a Hound of the League, and they have a daughter, the talented harper Méarana. As the last episode ended, Méarana accompanied Shadow Ravn Olafsdottr in search of her father - a ploy on Ravn's part to force Bridget to come after them.

It works. On the Razor's Edge opens on Bridget's Call to Hounds to assist her in her quest to recover her daughter - and to winkle out a treasure trove held by the Names, the Seven Vestiges, powerful old Terran Commonwealth technology that cannot now be reproduced. As they prepare for action and head off in various directions, Ravn seeks her own backup, Shadow Domino Tight. And on Terra, Donovan wins allies to his cause and (for a time) gives his kidnapper the slip in order to recover old memories and research ancient technologies.

All parties eventually converge on Terra, where unlikely (though temporary) alliances form against formidable opponents. Méarana proves herself her parents' true daughter and finds a new use for harp strings. Many die while others come very close to death. And Donovan discovers yet another self before he and Bridget ban are reunited once more.

It's a remarkable series (which I recommend reading in order) and On the Razor's Edge brings it to an outstanding conclusion. Don't miss the author's Notes for the Curious at the end. He gives links to leading edge research relating to the amazing technologies that appear in his work - fascinating stuff!

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