Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Judge of Ages

John C Wright
Tor, 2014 (a review copy was gently provided to me by Tor)
Size: Average (my paperback proof copy has 380 pages, but final version might differ)
Theme: Evolution
Narrative: third-person
Main character: Menelaus Montrose
Recommended minimum age: Young Adult
Would purchase as a gift to any sci-fi reader: LIKELY

As the third book in the “Count to a Trillion” series, this is the sequel and the mandatory companion to “The Hermetic Millennia”. It picks up straight from the end of the previous book and continues narrating the story of Montrose, the “judge of ages”, awake from his hibernation slumber in order to deal with a major threat to his tombs system, which have been raided and are being plundered. Still unrecognized by his captors, he continues to attempt to regain some control over the tombs’ security systems, working together with a myriad of thawed people from different epochs along the last ten millennia. As expected, the pace and style are the same as the 2 previous installments in the series. The story continues being very one-dimensional. But in this book, it seemed to me that the author does a better job grabbing the attention of the reader and keeping him motivated to find out how the story will develop.

I have to say I enjoyed this book more than the previous one (and in fact, more than the first one as well). This was due to two aspects: first, there is more action and story development and less chatter (the latter being the worst aspect of this series), and second, the author comes up with a feasible way near the end of the book to explain a lot of the events which had only been hinted at. John Wright clearly has a tremendous imagination, which is the strong feature of this series. The described events are as imaginative as compelling, although a little bit too ambitious in scope and magnitude which renders this future scenario very hard to accept even in the realm of sci-fi. Unfortunately, there is still one major flaw persisting from the previous book: despite the fact that the characters are from different races and lived hundreds or thousands of years apart, many of them apparently (and unbelievably, in my opinion) share a peculiar sense of humor. I also have trouble accepting that a post-human as Montrose can exhibit brilliant projections on some issues and total lack of insight on others. But his weird sense of humor (and of some of the cast around him) was really what put me off the most while reading the novel.

I’m actually eager to read the final novel in the series, since I have the feeling it will either be a very good caper, or a monumental failure. Time will tell, but I’m really keeping my fingers crossed for the former.

Related work:

This book is the sequel to “The Hermetic Millennia” and should not be read before the first 2 books. A fourth and final book in the series has just come out.

*** Spoiler Alert ***
(Warning: the following text contains information that may hamper/ruin how much you enjoy the book):

There are really a lot of things that are only explained near the end of the book and which make it hard to pick appropriate spoilers. As Montrose and del Azarchel prepare to square off in a duel for the fate of humanity, they review and describe to each other their plots, the different feints and counterstrikes, and end up explaining to the reader a lot of what had been left hanging in the story. Montrose’s xypotech is revealed to occupy part of the Earth’s inner core. Exarchel, Azarchel’s xypotech, shoots itself towards Jupiter in order to achieve the same but on a much larger scale. The book ends with a new rising race, the Second Humans (or swans, who represent a new level of post-humanity beyond that of Montrose), essentially expelling both Azarchel and Montrose from their assumed roles in trying to define the future of humanity, but they decide to work together to a certain extent and escape in the ship Emancipation.


  1. The fourth novel is not the final: that was a mistake in the promotional material which was not discovered until it was too late for Tor Books to retract it.

    The Eschaton Sequence is a six-volume series.

  2. Dear John,
    Thank you for the updated info! I will correct ASAP.