It took me a really long time to finish this book. Longer than I would have liked. Part of that is because life has been a lot busier lately, and part of that is because I’ve read the book before and I was more in the mood to read something new.
There are some problems with the book. One of the big things I noticed was an occasional dated reference that knocked me out of the narrative and reminded me that the book was written in almost 30 years ago (the reference to the old slogan “It’s Miller time” was the most glaring). I also found several of the aliens to be a little too human in their thoughts and motivations, especially the Suzerain of the Gubru and Kault the Thennanin. Brin tries to make them seem more alien by describing their physical characteristics, like referencing the Gubru’s wings and feathers, or Kault’s gill slits, but those seem superficial. The Tymbrimi, especially Athaclena also come across as being very human-like, but they’re supposed to be, so it’s not as big of an issue. The Tymbrimi also seem to have some of the most alien responses of the three galactic races.
Despite its problems, and the time it took me to get through the book, I really like it. It’s my second time reading it, and it was just as enjoyable as my first time through. Robert is a likable protagonist, and the fact that he makes mistakes and has some emotional issues makes him all the more relatable. Athaclena is the same way. She occasionally comes across as being older and more knowledgeable than she should be for her described age, but not to an extreme degree. Even the enemy galactics like the Suzerain of Cost and Caution, or Suzerain of Propriety, have their sympathetic moments and can be likable. My personal favorite character is Fiben. He’s a little more perfect than the other characters, but that’s offset by his terrible attitude through most of the story. He complains a lot, but in a very humorous way. The story in the book is great, though it’s a little difficult to judge when the story is taking place relative to Startide Rising. The different storylines all connect pretty well, and even though some things come across as being a little to coincidental, it doesn’t bend the narrative.
I’ll likely get around to reading the second uplift series at some point, but until then, The Uplift War is a solid conclusion to the original trilogy.