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Seven Surrenders: Terra Ignota    by Ada Palmer order for
Seven Surrenders
by Ada Palmer
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2017 (2017)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Seven Surrenders follows Too Like the Lightning as the second in Ada Palmer's Terra Ignota series, set in a 2454 Earth. The world building that forms the backdrop to the series is extraordinary, detailing a future in which social media mapping takes us far away from current national and geographic boundaries. Though this social order bears some resemblance to Robert Charles Wilson's portrayal in The Affinities, Palmer's meticulous and very detailed world building makes her version a real challenge to absorb.

It's a utopian world, its people grouped into like minded Hives and its criminals turned into Servicers, a rather benign form of slavery. The first book introduced as protagonist anti-hero Mycroft Canner, a Servicer sentenced for a particularly monstrous crime. Indeed, most people believe that he was executed for it. Having grown fond of Canner in the first volume, readers now learn why he did what he did (to prevent the controlled war that those closest to him were about to unleash), and how it failed to change the course of history.

There are many key characters and plot threads to follow in this very complex tale. Mycroft has secretly raised a miraculous child, Bridger, who can wish things (like plastic toy soldiers) into living existence. Mycroft Tanner believes that Bridger might ultimately save humanity if he can learn to use his godlike power wisely. Another important part is played by sensayer Carlyle Foster, a spiritual counselor who stumbled upon a dangerous secret in the Saneer-Weeksbooth bash (the world's transportation center) in the first episode.

We gradually learn that world leaders have been carefully manipulating events for a very long time, using selective assassinations to prevent possible world conflict, an end justifies means approach that I've never believed in. Underlying it all is a discussion of the impact of this society's 'neutered dress and speech', the ultimate political correctness regarding gender. As different individuals fight for the future that each believes in, violence erupts on all sides. Seven Surrenders ends with the world on the cusp of war. And Mycroft Canner's History of these Days of Transformation is to be continued in The Will to Battle.

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