Review: Judgment of Proteus
Author: Timothy Zahn
Publisher: Tor Books
Published: June 5, 2012
Hardcover, 416 pages
Genre: Science Fiction
In Timothy Zahn's Judgment at Proteus, the Quadrail that connects the twelve civilizations of our galaxy has been the flashpoint of a battle for dominance fought mostly unnoticed by humankind. But Frank Compton of Earth, aided by the enigmatic woman Bayta, has fought on the front lines, using every bit of his human ingenuity and secret agent skills to outwit the Modhri, a group intelligence that would control the minds of every sentient being it can touch.
Following a trail of deception and death to Proteus Station, Compton has discovered a conspiracy that threatens all life in the galaxy: the Shonkla’raa, an ancient enemy thought to be long dead, is rising again. So serious is the danger that the Modhri, the enemy of his enemy, may now be his friend, as the burgeoning threat of a race of invincible soldiers emerges.
If Compton and Bayta can’t stop them, the Shonkla’raa will decimate all who oppose them, destroying the Quadrail and billions of lives throughout the galaxy.
I have been a Timothy Zahn fan since the first moment I picked up Heir to the Empire, the first of his Star Wars novels. So when I got the chance to read Judgment at Proteus, I was overjoyed. The Quadrail series finale does not disappoint. The Quadrail is an intergalactic train of sorts that connects the twelve civilizations of our galaxy. The story is an amalgamation of spy novel that happens along with a railway murder mystery as told by a Noir detective in a sci-fi setting. That seems like a lot going on, but it works wonderfully because of the writing of Zahn. The characters are well written and fully developed.
Frank Compton is the main character. He is a former government worker from Earth and is the detective/ spy that the story is told through. He has a partner/friend, Bayta, who has a telepathic relay with the Spiders that run the Quadrail. They are escorting Terese German, a human who seems to have great significance, to Proteus Station, a research facility run by the Filiaelians. The Filiaelians are one of the major species in the galaxy and also believed to contain a group called the Shonkla’raa who are the original masters of the Modhri, a group-mind that controls a mind and assimilates it to the collective.
There is murder, deception, political intrigue, investigations, and action galore. I have not read the first four books of the Quadrail series but plan to after devouring this one. The fact that I had not read the others did not hinder me. Zahn gives just enough backstory to leave you informed without taking away from the present. This story flows well, is fast paced and will leave you wanting more. I can’t wait to read the rest of the Quadrail series. This book should be on your to read list.