Really good futuristic hard space opera. Star Wars meets Run Silent; Run Deep with a dash of Enemy Mine. Huge cast of complex—occasionally opaque—characters, some of whom are clones of themselves. Expansive setting on a galactic arm scale. Technologies and speciation which boogle the mind. All encased in excellent prose.
Make no mistake: this is not light reading, but it is fully engaging. A well-developed story of love and war in the distant future. All the more amazing because it was first published in 1988. While so many stories so old suffer from technology lag, Cook successful bypassed the obvious pits which many stories fall into. Advances in computing and personal communication are assumed (correctly). His solution to faster-than-light travel is most ingenious.
All neatly contained in three hundred pages, no Jordanesque series of volumes. A satisfying, if open conclusion.
A very good read for hard-core hard science fiction readers. Others will wonder why the fuss.