It was the sense that every pain and sorrow he’d ever felt had an infinite footprint, was somehow smeared across the face of creation like the black rainbow in the Blues Boys’ song he had loved…1
The idea of a literally infinite multiverse is exhilarating but also terrifying: it would mean everything awful exists in unlimited quantity. This novel is a bit weighted towards exploring the awful; the settings include a doomed world, slave prisons, and a vicious militaristic empire. It manages to be fun and often funny anyway.
I enjoyed both Essien’s and Topaz’s character arcs. Essien‘s culminates in a moving rebuttal to the Pandominion’s dismissal of so-called “sinkhole” worlds (“’Who lives in nowhere?’ the voice demanded. … I do, he told the memory. I fucking do.”)2. Topaz’s involves the struggle to acknowledge to herself that the beliefs which comfort her are self-serving and the system which benefits her is unjust, a struggle the novel portrays very convincingly.
I look forward to the sequels. This book is basically just a prologue, but it does end at a reasonably satisfying point.