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Heretics: Apotheosis: Book Two by S. Andrew Swann
Cover Artist: Stephan Martiniere
Review by Andrea Johnson
DAW Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780756406134
Date: 02 February 2010 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Prophets: Apotheosis: Book One / Show Official Info /

As the second book in S. Andrew Swann's Apotheosis series, Heretics keeps the action going, along with healthy doses of intrigue, betrayal, destruction, and an unkillable bad guy armed with self replicating nanomachines.

More S. Andrew Swann:
* Prophets
* Heretics

As the crew members of the Eclipse try to regroup, all hell is breaking loose around them. Along with Mosasa, Mercenaries Parvi and Wahid, and lowly data analyst Rebecca have been taken hostage on the Caliphate ship The Prophet's Voice, while the rest of the crew, including Nickolai, Father Mallory, and Kugara have made it to the surface of Salmagundi, where they team up with Flynn/Tetsami and the Protean construct.

When Adam confronts Mosasa on The Voice, they both know only one can survive, and facing Adam's unparalleled strength, how can Mosasa hope to survive? Setting himself up as a God, Adam promises paradise and unrivaled power to those who join him, and instant death to those who don't.

When Rebecca is given the choice to join with Adam, she sees an opportunity to become something few humans will ever experience, and soon becomes one of Adam's special disciples, able to keep her own unique self while still melding with him. Through his digital eyes she sees more death and destruction than she could imagine. As she hears the quiet voice of Mosasa in her head, she realizes that Adam is fallible and there may yet be a way to stop him.

Back on Salmagundi, the Protean Construct is be made of the same technology as Adam, but he uses it differently. The Protean will not force his ways on anyone, but offers to help those who ask. The nameless Protean sacrifices himself to save Nickolai, Kugara, and the other escapees. His dying words are clues regarding how to stop Adam. In all the chaos, will Kugara and the others get the message out in time?

In between all the action, Swann gives us some much needed and much appreciated history of the Race AI's. The technology was foreign, but wielded by a human who didn't realize the secret orders sleeping in his creations. The man died, and his creations lived on, spying on the Confederation, building plans within plans to one day have their revenge on humanity. The AI's slowly broke down, or went mad, until only Mosasa and Adam were left.

Back on Earth, the Vatican and other Earth governments know Adam is on his way, and panic sets in. When a Protean emmisary pays a visit to the Vatican, the solution offered could easily be a trap.

Ending on a cliffhanger, Heretics is unpredictable, enjoyable, and hard to put down. The final battle could go any way, and the fate of all of humanity's descendants are at stake. If you enjoy futuristic space operas, questions about ethics and faith, super-bad guys with superpowers, and cheering for the underdog, you will like this series. Fans of contemporary SF series such as John Scalzi's Old Man's War series or Ian Douglas's Inheritance trilogy will also feel perfectly at home with this series.

I'll admit, some of the religious bits at the end caught me off guard, and I began to wonder if Swann had some underlying religious message he was trying to get out. After reading some of Swann's more personal writings on his website, I came to the conclusion that Swann is just using religion and faith to expand on an age old question: What do you do when God, or something claiming to be God shows up? When an omnipresent, omnipotent being shows up promising paradise to followers, how do you tell billions of faithful they are wrong? Perhaps his underlying message is that science fiction is the perfect platform to ask these kinds of questions.

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