James Alan Gardner’s Hunted is the sort of book that makes you want to just lean back and smile, because it’s so damn enjoyable. I mean, it combines an SF puzzle story with an over-the-top space opera — it’s got an inscrutable empire of transcendent beings, speechifying villains with dastardly plans, exotic alien insectoid races, interstellar spaceships, massive battles, the works — and does it with great characters, solid writing, and a wonderful sense of pace
Longtime readers will recall that I was similarly fond of Gardner’s other books (though Trent didn’t share my enthusiasm); but I think this book is the best of the lot so far. Either that, or I just forgot how good the other ones were, so was impressed anew by Gardner’s talent for writing enjoyably good light SF adventure.
Note that this is a quasi-sequel to Vigilant and Expendable. It’s playing in the same universe (so if, like Trent, you have an aversion to arbitrary rules of the universe set up by unknowable and God-like aliens, a la Vinge’s Zones, you’ll still be bothered by the setup) and characters from the other books appear at length in this one. If you’re planning on reading this, you’ll definitely want to read at least Expendable first.