My Sun Eater journey continues with Demon in White. Despite taking place over many decades (thanks to the intricacies of space travel), this book kept things interesting: court intrigue, assassinations, an ancient mystery, a little archeology, and a desparate battle for the fate of the galaxy (or of our heros at least). At times, I felt the story (and this series as a whole) leaned a little to heavily into hand waving the story along. But it is an enjoyable journey.

My Highlights

For all its faults—and they are numberless—I felt a sudden affection for the Empire of my home,

Rome of old was not loved for its greatness, so the poet wrote. Rome was great because men loved her, as I loved my Empire in that moment.

A fear born of the fact that though we may come back to a place at the end of our journeys, we never really return, for we are not the same person who departed.

Alexander needed desperately to become something. To become someone. To matter. Thus it is for all men. We are nothing until we have accomplished something.

that the privilege of one’s birth is no privilege at all, only another kind of cage.

“Well then,” she said, “’tis well that whether we fail or not is up to us.”

But it was better this way. To appear ostentatious was to exaggerate my importance. Understating my arrival like this sent a different message: that I did not need to exaggerate.

“Because I have earned their respect. Rank only formalizes relationships between people, Alexander. It does not create them. One has rank because one deserves it, and if one does not deserve it, he will lose his rank. Or his life. A man would do well to become worthy of his honors, else he will be deposed as a tyrant.”

“From little towns in a far land we came, to save our honour and a world aflame,”

That is why the best commanders, the best captains and kings, make themselves known to their people—that their people may be known to them. That we might not betray their trust and obedience when the critical time came.

Sir Gawain. Turning my head, I stopped and looked to the statue nearest me on the other side. SIR LANCELOT. I guessed then I could name the others. Percival, Bedivere, Gareth, and Kay. Gaheris and Galahad. Tristan and Palamedes. The Knights of the Round Table.

I had believed that I alone had the wisdom to set the world to rights, not knowing then that true wisdom lies in knowing that I did not possess that wisdom, and never would.

Men are slower to act from principle than self-interest, and far slower to act on principle than jealousy or revenge.

I had to choose. The only way out was through. Always forward, I thought to myself.

Reader, have I already said that there is a difference between knowing a fact and owning it?

“Because we are not good.” It took me a moment to realize that it had been I who’d answered. Both my master and student looked at me. “If we were good men, we’d not need all this reflection.”

The stone giants, the city, the mountain on which I stood existed in another present. One that had not happened—that could not happen—because the past that informed its reality had not. I had come to a time unreal and unrealized.

As darkness brings forth the creatures of the night, so silence brings forth the things within our hearts… if we will but listen to it.

“Hadrian,” she said, “you were gone for forty days.”

The allusion here is interesting.

Consciousness, I think, is a mechanism we humans have evolved for sorting the threads of time. We do it blindly, and that is enough for most of us, most of the time. I am no different, save that I have learned to listen. To see.

Nothing is without meaning, because nothing is without consequence.

“We are all chosen for something,”

I am not certain if a hell awaits the unjust hereafter, but I know there are hells in this life.

We had expanded too far, brushed against the borders of infinity. Infinity had pushed back.

“We are going to lose people now.” It had struck me as a funny thing to say at the time. We had already lost people fighting in the streets, had lost an entire fleet and orbital defense platform. We had been losing people for days. He’d meant civilians, but the word choice stuck with me. What were soldiers then, if not people?

Pallino had told me long ago that proper Sollan officers don’t duck. In the open, a shot will find you crouching as easily as standing, he’d said. Plus the men don’t like it. That had always stuck with me. The men don’t like it.

He was braver than I ever was. Braver… or more foolish. Or perhaps they are the same thing.

Darkness greeted us, darkness and the sense that we were running out of time.